The Catholic University of America

Dissertation Defense - Kevin Douglas Schemenauer

Final Examination of

Kevin Douglas Schemenauer

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Monday, April 27, 2009

2:00 p.m., MCM 109

Committee in Charge

Chair: Dr. Regis J. Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., Ph.D.

Secretary: Dr. John McCarthy, Ph.D.

Director: Dr. John Grabowski, Ph.D.

Reader: Dr. Brian Johnstone, C.SS.R., Ph.D.

Reader: Dr. Kenneth Schmitz, Ph.D.

Summary of Coursework

GER 500 Reading for Comprehension

TRS 501 Theological German

TRS 731 History of Catholic Moral Theology

TRS 732A Sexuality, the Person, & Ethics

TRS 732B Beginning of Life Issues

TRS 737 The Body in Theology

TRS 737A Ethics and Action

TRS 737B The Virtues

TRS 737D 20th Century Theological Ethics

PHIL 809 Modernity and Humanism

TRS 997 Doctoral Dissertation Guidance


"Dietrich von Hildebrand on Procreation:

The Primary and Superabundant End of Marriage"

Kevin D. Schemenauer, M.A.

Director: John Grabowski, Ph.D.

In the 1920s, Dietrich von Hildebrand published two works, Purity and Marriage, which promoted conjugal love's role in marriage. While the early reviewers almost universally praised these works for von Hildebrand's account of conjugal love, some reviewers also proposed that the works failed to treat sufficiently procreation's role in marriage.

Both in anticipation and in response to this critique, von Hildebrand argued that an authentic account of conjugal love does not diminish but enhances and clarifies procreation's role in marriage. He argued that one understands the significance of procreation only after understanding conjugal love, marriage, and the conjugal act. Since he dealt with these themes in various small works, his claims about procreation come into greater clarity through a systematic presentation of his published writings on conjugal love, marriage and the conjugal act.

More directly related to von Hildebrand's account of procreation, and more unique to his thought are the principle of superabundance and reverence. The principle of superabundance explains how procreation is an end of marriage, namely, as an overflowing fruit of the conjugal act which ought to be an actualization of conjugal love. This connection between the conjugal act and procreation is established by God and requires reverence from spouses. Procreation is the primary end of marriage because it deals with man's fundamental disposition before God. In procreation, spouses come face to face with the Creator as creatures called in love to participate in God's creative power.

A proper understanding of conjugal love enhances procreation's role in marriage by demonstrating that procreation is not merely a biological product of sexual intercourse but an overflow of conjugal love pointing towards and participating in God's creative love. Further, reverence for conjugal love's role both in marriage and in the conjugal act fosters reverence for procreation. Accordingly, von Hildebrand maintains that spouses who have serious reasons to postpone having children should employ the rhythm method and not artificial birth control. The former respects the means of creation established by God and the latter irreverently intervenes in a domain that should be uniquely reserved for the Creator.