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Alphonsian Academy

Our Story

The Alphonsian Academy is a Higher Institute of Moral Theology located in Rome, Italy, founded in 1949 by the Redemptorists(). Since 1960, the Academy has specialized in moral theology as a part of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Lateran University(). As such, the Academy grants both the licentiate and the doctoral degrees in Moral Theology.

In the Spirit of St. Alphonsus Liguori , Patron of Moral Theologians and founder of the Redemptorists, the Alphonsian Academy, faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, has as its mission:

1. To study moral theology in the light of the Mystery of Christ, and to deepen this research according to contemporary developments and the needs of the People of God.
2. To educate our students, clerical, religious and lay men and women, in the study of moral theology based on its primary sources, its principles, its methodology, its pastoral application and the other relevant sciences. This education is directed towards giving the students a high level of mastery in their chosen field, be it teaching, or research, or in other fields in the service of the Church and society.


A long history of determined efforts to establish an academy of moral theology in the spirit of St. Alphonsus came to fruition on August 2, 1960. It was on this day that the Alphonsian Academy was fully incorporated into the Faculty of Theology of the Lateran University as an integral part of it. As such, it is recognized as the founding day of the modern Alphonsian Academy. With it’s decree, the Sacred Congregation for Universities and Seminaries elevated the Academy to full university status. This allowed the Academy to admit those who, having earned a licence in theology, opted to pursue the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology with a specialization in Moral Science.

Shortly after Saint Alphonsus Liguori was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871, the Redemptorists conceived the idea and began to make plans for the establishment of an institute dedicated to teaching and promoting the moral theology of Saint Alphonsus. The Redemptorist General Chapter of 1894 approved a decree which stated: "It is the express wish of the Chapter that, as soon as possible, a general higher institute of learning be set up, to which shall come from the various provinces, young fathers who have already completed their studies. Here, under the guidance of expert members of the Congregation, they are to receive a fuller training in the philosophical and theological teachings that are proper to Saint Alphonsus and thereby be prepared in their turn to teach them to others."

The first institute opened its doors with six professors and twenty-six student priests for the academic year of 1910 - 1911. The faculty offered courses in dogmatic and moral theology, as well as canon law, philosophy, and Hebrew. It looked as though the Redemptorist dream of an Alphonsian moral institute was well on its way to becoming a reality. Then came World War I and the fledgling institute was forced to close its doors. An effort at re-establishing the institute was once again thwarted by the onset of World War II.

On February 9, 1949, the Most Reverend Father Leonard Buijs, the Redemptorist Superior General, founded the Alphonsian Academy as an internal Institute of the Congregation. The postwar years were a time of reorganization and growth for the Institute, culminating on March 25, 1957, when the Academy was formally recognized by the Vatican Congregation for Religious as a "public internal Institute" entrusted to the Redemptorists. The Academy, although not having formal university status, was now authorized to accept Redemptorist as well as non-Redemptorist students. The inaugural class began its academic journey the following October with twenty students, of whom eight were Redemptorists, and a faculty of fourteen professors.

Following a number of years marked by steady growth and progress, on June 28, 1958, the same Vatican Congregation authorized the Academy to confer a Diploma in Moral and Pastoral Theology. This diploma, however, was considered solely an "internal degree". This was followed on August 2, 1960, by the full incorporation of the Alphonsian Academy into the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Lateran University. This elevation to full university status allowed the granting of both Licentiate and Doctoral degrees which are universally recognized.

In the keynote speech given at the formal confirmation of this new status, the Alphonsian Academy was described in words which are as true today as they were then :

"It is a real Institute of moral theology, the first of its kind in the whole history of the Church, an Institute, which under the inspiration of the teaching of Saint Alphonsus, intends to pursue a profound study of the natural and supernatural aspects of all problems of the moral life, according to the needs of the modern world and under the guidance of the Magisterium of the Church."

The Academy today

Situated near the center of Rome, a leisurely ten minute walk from the Coliseum, the Alphonsian Academy is the academic home for over three hundred post-graduate students divided between the Licentiate and Doctoral Programs. The students come from over sixty countries and all five continents. The international community of laity, priests, and religious men and women are guided in the studies by thirty professors, twenty of whom are Redemptorists.

The faculty at the Alphonsian Academy has influenced not only the students of the Academy, but the Universal Church as well. Alphonsian faculty members were instrumental in crafting some the key documents of the Second Vatican Council, in particular Gaudium et Spes. They were also invited to lead the spiritual exercises for His Holiness Pope Paul VI.

Today the faculty is composed of both permanent and visiting professors who are experts in areas as far ranging as Systematic Moral Theology, Sacred Scripture, Patristics, History, Pastoral Theology, Social Anthropology, Scientific Methodology, and a host of others. All of this knowledge and talent comes together at the Alphonsian Academy for the single purpose of profoundly studying the moral issues and question of the present day and providing the best possible education in moral theology for its students. Always faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, the Academy pursues its research and educational mission in the light of the best studies of Sacred Scripture and of the latest scientific developments. The search for excellence and maintaining high academic standards have been hallmarks of the Academy and continue to be priorities.

The Academy and the World

The dedication, effort, and sacrifices of the Redemptorist Congregation, the faculty, staff, and students which have gone into making the Alphonsian Academy what it is today have not gone unrewarded. It is with a sense of thankful pride and satisfaction that the Alphonsian family can point to one Alumnus Cardinal, over forty-five former students who have been raised to the episcopacy. The Alphonsian Academy can point with equal pride to our graduates who are now moral theology professors, religious formation directors, spiritual directors, and pastors in almost every part of the world

The Alphonsian Academy is truly a dream-come-true for the Redemptorists and a ministry that is at the heart of our Congregation, having its roots in the work and writings of our founder Saint Alphonsus Liguori, moral theologian, Doctor of the Church, and patron of moral theologians and confessors. Saint Alphonsus wrote his famous Moral Theology to teach and help priests and other ministers guide their people in the Christian life. In the same way, the Alphonsian Academy of Moral Theology seeks to teach and help contemporary ministers, both ordained and lay, in their service to the Christian Community. Like Saint Alphonsus, the Alphonsian Academy continues to "teach the teachers".