William E. May


1928-2014  In Memoriam  William E. May was Senior Research Fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation from 2008 until his passing in December, 2014.  He is most remembered as the Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he taught the academic years from 1991 through 2008 after teaching for 20 years at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of more than a dozen books. The 2nd edition of his Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life was published by Our Sunday Visitor (2008), and a substantively revised 3rd edition is scheduled for publication in 2013. In 2003 Our Sunday Visitor published a revised and expanded edition of his Introduction to Moral Theology. Among his other books are: Marriage: The Rock on Which the Family Is Built (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1995; 2nd revised edition, 2009)); and, with Ronald Lawler OFM Cap and Joseph Boyle, Catholic Sexual Ethics (rev. and enlarged ed. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1998; 2nd rev. edition, 1998; a 3rd edition, substantively revised by May alone, was published in 2011); Theology of the Body: Genesis and Growth (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2010) He has published more than 240 essays in scholarly journals such as The Thomist, Anthropotes: Rivista di Studi sulla Persona et la Famiglia; Annales Theologicae; The Linacre Quarterly; National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly; Theological Studies; American Catholic Philosophical Journal, and others.. His personal autobiography is Standing with Peter: A Lay Moral Theologian’s Reflections on God’s Loving Providence (Bethune, SC: Requiem Press, 2006).

Professor May, at the appointment of Pope John Paul II, served on the International Theological Commission from 1986 through 1997. Pope John Paul also appointed him a “peritus” for the 1987 Synod of Bishops on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world. In September 2003 he was appointed a consultor to the Congregation for the Clergy. May has served as Visiting Professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences located in Arlington, VA and at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. In September 2008 he became Senior Fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation. Professor May received the Cardinal Wright Award from the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal from James Cardinal Hickey, the Paul Ramsey Award for Outstanding Contributions to Bioethics from the Center for Bioethics and Culture, the St. Dominic Medal from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and the Smith Award of University Faculty for Life for outstanding scholarly contributions to the pro-life movement.

Since 1958 he has been married to Patricia Keck May. They are the parents of seven children, four boys and three girls and are the grandparents of sixteen grandchildren.

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