Course Number: APO 535

Course Title: Moral Apologetics


Trent Horn, M.A.



Welcome to moral apologetics! Apologetics is a branch of theology dedicated to providing a rational defense of the Faith. The Church’s moral teachings, especially those related to life and sexuality, are constantly under attack so Catholics must be ready to provide a gracious and compelling defense of these doctrines. In the first part of this course we will learn how to defend the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality and how to refute objections to those teachings. In the second part of this course we will tackle life issues like abortion, euthanasia, and embryo research and learn how to provide a rational defense of the Church’s teachings on these issues.




Each week’s readings will be accompanied by an audio lecture whose content will appear in some form on the final exam. Each week will also include a link to a live webinar-based question and answer session with Mr. Horn. These Q+A sessions are optional but students are encouraged to attend so that they can be further edified on the subjects covered in this course.

Week 1: Moral Foundations

Reading: Chapter 2 of Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life

Francis Beckwith, “Why I am not a moral relativist” (PDF)

Week 2: Introduction to Sexual Ethics

Reading: Chapters 1 and 2 in What the Church Teaches About Sex

Edward Feser, “In Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument” (PDF)

Week 3: Non-Marital Sexual Behavior

Reading: Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 8 in What the Church Teaches About Sex

Week 4: Marital Permanence and Fidelity (Divorce/Remarriage)

Reading: Chapters 3 and Appendix A in What the Church Teaches About Sex

Tim Staples, “Is Pope Francis a Heretic?” (PDF)

Week 5: Marital Fecundity (Contraception) 

Reading: Chapters 9-10 in What the Church Teaches About Sex

Chapter 4 of Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life

Week 6: Marital Complementarity (Man-Woman Marriage)

Reading: Sherif Gergis, Ryan Anderson, Robert George “What is Marriage?” (PDF)

Week 7: Homosexuality

Reading: Chapter 7 in What the Church Teaches About Sex

Timothy Hsiao, “Why Homosexual Sex is Immoral” (PDF)

Robert Gagnon, “What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues” (PDF)

Week 8: MID-TERM EXAM (A live Q+A session with Trent will be available this week for students who would like any clarification before the exam).

Week 9: Answering Pro-Choice Arguments

 Reading: Chapters 3 and 5 of Defending Life

Week 10: The Humanity of the Unborn

Reading: Chapters 4 and 6 of Defending Life

Week 11: Answering Pro-Choice Arguments II

Reading: Chapters 7-8 of Defending Life

Week 12: Embryo Research

Reading: Chapter 6 of Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life (pgs. 229-249)

Week 13: Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Reading: Chapter 3 of Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life (pgs. 67-94)

Week 14: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

Reading: Chapter 7 of Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life

Week 15: Final Paper Due.






(Basis of evaluation with explanation regarding the nature of the assignment and the percentage of the grade assigned to each item below). Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at


A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 D 60-69; F 59 and below


Grading Rubric for the Major Papers  

Grade F

Grade: D

Grade: C-

Grade: C to C+

Grade B to B+

Grade: A


Absence of


Analysis shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as they relate to the topic.

Lack of


Analysis seems to

misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Analysis is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Analysis demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.



Analysis demonstrates a clear

understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Analysis clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connections to other concepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.




Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing. 

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research;

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating

documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors. 

facts not referenced; several errors in citation format. 

be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors. 

sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors. 

extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow

standard bibliographic format. 


Incomplete writing

Analysis is only partially written or completely misses the topic.


difficult to understand, serious improvement needed  

Analysis fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development;

little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in

grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Analysis noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partiallyinternalized; weak

organization and development, some meandering; simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Analysis is an uneven response to

parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors.

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Analysis is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error.

Command-level writing, making

a clear impression

Analysis is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of

issues; compelling organization and development; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage.


Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in oncampus courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Disability Resource Center ADA Coordinator at at 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them.


Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends. Plagiarism includes: 1. Directly quoting without acknowledging the source. 2. Changing a few words of a text without indicating this was done and/or not acknowledging the source. 3. Not acknowledging that the structure of ideas or logic is from another author. 4. Not acknowledging a unique image (including analogies, similes, metaphors etc.) is from a particular document or author.

Students, where applicable:

·      Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.

·      Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.

·      Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.

·      Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students caught plagiarizing will receive a zero for the assignment, and may be withdrawn from the class and/or expelled from Holy Apostles.


Attendance will be taken at every class, excused absences must be considered with the professor.

Students are expected to participate in class discussions when discussing the readings, this forms part of the grade of participation.



An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without reenrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


After his conversion to the Catholic Faith, Trent Horn earned a master's degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a master’s degree in philosophy from Holy Apostles College. 

He serves as a staff apologist for Catholic Answers and specializes in teaching Catholics to graciously and persuasively engage those who disagree with them. Trent models that approach each week on the radio program Catholic Answers Live where he dialogues with atheists, pro-choice advocates, and other non-Catholic callers.

Trent is also a lecturer who travels throughout the world speaking on subjects related to the Catholic faith and the author of five books: Answering AtheismPersuasive Pro-life, Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties, Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love, and The Case for Catholicism: Answers to Classic and Contemporary Protestant Objections.