tr. Janet E. Smith (mod.L.Dysinger). Acta Ap. Sed., 60 (1968), 481-503
(1-3) HUMAN Hardships and False Rationalizations; (4-6) Principles and Studies; (8) CONJUGAL LOVE (9) Three Visions of Conjugal Love; (10) Biology & Conscience; (11) PRESERVING the MEANING of ACTS [=Natural Law]; (12-13) INSEPERABILITY of PROCREATION and UNION ; (14) Impermissible Methods and Rationales; (15-16) Permissible Means; (17) Prophetic Consequences; (18-22) Divine Law, Self-Mastery, Chastity; (23-31) Various Appeals
TO the Venerable Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops
and to all the local Ordinaries,
Who are in peace and communion with the Aposotlic See
to the Clergy and the Christian Faithful of the
whole Catholic realm
Catholici Orbis] and to all men of good
will on the proper regulation of the propagation of offspring.
Venerabiles Fratres Patriarchas, Archiepiscopos, Episcopos aliosque
locorum Ordinarios, pacem et communionem cum Apostolica Sede habentes, ad
Clerum et Christifideles totius Catholici Orbis itemque ad universos
bonae volontatis homines datae: de propagatione humanae prolis recte
To Our venerable brothers and beloved sons, Greetings and [Our] apostolic blessing
PP. VI Venerabiles
Fratres Et Dilecti Filii Salutem Et Apostolicam Benedictionem
The Transmission Of Life
1. God has entrusted spouses with the extremely important [gravissimum] mission [munus]2 of transmitting human life. In fulfilling this mission spouses freely and deliberately [consciam] render a service to God, the Creator.3 This service has always been a source of great joy, although the joys are, at times, accompanied by not a few difficulties and sufferings.
1. HUMANAE VITAE tradendae munus gravissimum, ex quo coniuges liberam et consciam Deo Creatori tribuunt operam, magnis semper ipsos affecit gaudiis, quae tamen aliquando non paucae difiicultates et angustiae sunt secutae.
Fulfilling this mission has always raised some difficult questions 4 for the consciences of married couples. Furthermore, in recent times, the evolution of human society has brought with it changes that raise new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions for they concern matters intimately connected with human life and happiness.
Quod munus sustinere si omni tempore coniugum conscientiae arduas facessivit quaestiones, at recens humanae societatis cursus eiusmodi mutationes invexit, ut novae quaestiones sint exortae, quas Ecclesiae ignorare non liceat, utpote quae cum rebus conectantur, tantopere ad hominum vitam et felicitatem pertinentibus.
2. The various changes that have taken place [in modern times] are truly of great importance.
2. Re enim vera inductae mutationes et magni momenti et varii generis sunt.
In the first place, there
has been a rapid increase in the population, an increase that causes many
to fear that the population of the earth will grow faster than its
available life-sustaining resources. This [disparity]
could result in even
greater hardships for many families and for many developing
Agitur in primis de aucto celeriter natorum
numero, ob quem extimescunt plures, ne mundi hominum multitudines celerius
crescant quam vitae opes, quae praesto sint, admittant, atque adeo tot
familiae totque populi, ad progressum nitentes, etiam maioribus incommodis
Public authorities may easily be tempted to fight the danger by rather severe methods.
Qua ex re ita sollicitari publicae Auctoritates facile possint, ut huiusmodi periculum vel maioribus rationibus propulsare velint.
 Moreover, contemporary conditions of work and housing, as well as the increased expenses involved in providing for, raising, and educating children, often make it burdensome to support a large family adequately.
Accedit quod, non tantum operarum et habitationum condiciones,
sed etiam increbrescentes necessitates sive in re oeconomica sive in
erudienda docendaque iuventute id genus vitae statum praestant, in quo
saepe onerosum sit hodie grandiori liberorum numero apte consulere.
 It must also be noted that there have
been changes in how we view the person of woman and how we view her role
[munere] in society; indeed there have even been
changes in the value we place on conjugal love and on how we understand
the meaning of acts of sexual intercourse
in light of this love.
Id quoque notatur, quodammodo mutatum esse sensum,
praeterquam de mulieris persona deque eius munere in hominum societate,
etiam de amoris coniugum pretio in matrimonio, deque actibus coniugum
iudicandis, si hunc amorem spectemus.
 Finally, and above all, it must be noted that
because Man has made such remarkable progress in
the forces of nature and in rationally organizing them,
he also strives to extend this
to the whole of his life: that is, to his body, to the powers of his
[ad sui animi vires],
to his social
life, and even to the laws that regulate the propagation of life.
|Denique illud praesertim animadvertendum est, hominem tam mirifice profecisse in naturae viribus cum moderandis tum ad rationem scite componendis, ut hanc moderationem ad totam suam vitam proferre conetur : hoe est, ad suum corpus, ad sui animi vires, ad vitam socialem, ad ipsasque leges propagationem vitae regentes.|
3. This state of affairs gives rise to new questions. [Some ask:] Given the conditions of life today and given the importance of marital intercourse for marital harmony and fidelity, is it not appropriate to reconsider [recognoscere] 6 the moral norms that have obtained up to now? Is not a reconsideration especially appropriate if it is believed that these norms cannot be observed without serious sacrifices [gravia incommoda], sometimes heroic sacrifices?7
3. Ex quo rerum statu novae se erumpunt quaestiones.
An, ratione habita sive vitae condicionum, quae nunc sunt, sive
significationis, quam maritales amplexus quoad concordiam mutuamque
fidelitatem coniugum habent, normas morales, quae hodie obtinent,
recognoscere non conveniat, si praesertim reputetur, eas nonnisi per
gravia incommoda, aliquando fortissimis viris
digna, servari posse.
Or, is it not possible to apply the so-called “principle of totality” to this problem? Would it not be possible to use this principle to justify using one’s reason to reduce one’s fertility? Would not an act that causes sterility become a licit and prudent way to limit [control-moderatio] one’s family size? That is, would it not clearly be right to consider the goal [finem] of having children to pertain more to the whole of married life than to each and every act of [sexual intercourse]? And, again, given the fact that moderns have an increased sense of their responsibilities, [they ask] if it is not right for them to entrust the mission [munus] of transmitting life more to their reason and will, than to the biological rhythms [certis . . . vicibus] of their bodies?
An praeterea, principio totalitatis, quod appellant, in hac re adhibito, non liceat arbitrari consilium fecunditatis minus uberis, sed magis rationi consentaneae, posse actum, physice sterilitatem afferentem, in licitam providamque gignendae prolis moderationem vertere. An videlicet fas non sit opinari finem procreandae prolis potius ad totam coniugum vitam, quam ad singulos quosque eius actus pertinere. Quaerunt insuper num, ob suorum officiorum conscientiam, qua hodie magis homines fruuntur, tempus iam ipsos advenerit, quo tradendae vitae munus potius rationi et volunteti suae, quam certis sui corporis vicibus, sit tribuendum.
4. Certainly, questions
of this kind require that the Magisterium of the Church give new and
deeper consideration to the principles of the moral teaching concerning
marriage -- a teaching that is rooted in natural
law, illuminated and made
richer by divine revelation.
4. Cuius certe generis quaestiones ab Ecclesiae Magisterio novam eamque altiorem considerationem postulabant circa principia moralis doctrinae de metrimonio, quae in lege naturali, divina Revelatione illustrata ditataque, nititur.
Let no one of the faithful deny that the Magisterium of the Church is competent to interpret the natural moral law. For it is indisputable -- as Our predecessors have often declared 8 -- that when Jesus Christ imparted His divine authority [potestatis] to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to all nations to teach His commandments,9 He established those very men as authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law,
that is, not only of the [moral] law of the Gospel,
but also of natural [moral] law.
For natural law,
[as well as revealed law],
declares the will of God; [thus] faithful compliance
with natural law is necessary for eternal salvation.11
Nemo sane christifidelium eat infitias, ad Ecclesiae Magisterium interpretation em legis moralis naturalis spectare. Haud namque dubium est - ut saepenumero Decessores Nostri pronuntiaverunt 1 - Christum Iesum, cum Petrum ceterosque Apostolos divinae potestatis suae participavisset, eosque ad omnes genies praeceptis suis docendas misisset, illos ipsos totius de moribus legis certos custodes interpretesque instituisse :
hoc est, non solius legis evangelicae,
sed etiam naturalis.
Nam naturalis quoque lex voluntatem Dei declarat, cuius utique fidelis obtemperatio ad aeternam salutem est hominibus necessaria.3
Moreover, the Church has always been faithful in
fulfilling this command. In recent times, She has more amply provided an
on the nature of marriage, on the moral use of conjugal rights, and on the
duties of the spouses.13
Hoc autem mandatum Ecclesia persecuta, omni tempore, sed recentiore aetate copiosius, sive de metrimonii natura, sive de recto coniugum iurium usu, sive de ipsorum officiis congrua dedit documenta.4
Conscious of Our responsibility
[muneris] in this regard, We approved and enlarged
the commission established by Our venerable predecessor John XXIII in
March of 1963. In addition to many experts in the relevant disciplines,
the commission also included married couples. The commission was to
consider opinions and views concerning married life and, in particular,
[it was to reflect upon] the legitimate means of controlling family size
[rectem progignendae prolis
It was to report the results in due time to the Magisterium so that it could provide a fitting response to the
faithful and to people worldwide who were awaiting an answer.15
5. Efusdem vero muneris conscientia ducti, Coetum, a Decessore Nostro ven. rec. Ioanne XXIII mense Martio anni MDCCCCLXIII constitutum, probavimus atque amplificavimus, qui praeter multos viros, disciplinarum ad hanc rem attinentium studiosos, paria etiam coniugum complectebatur. Hic autem Coetus non eo solum spectabat, ut consilia sententiasque exquireret circa quaestiones, vitam coniugalem in primisque rectam progignendae prolis temperationem attingentes, sed exquisita insuper opportune referret, ut Ecclesiae Magisterium exspectationi, qua de hac re et christifideles et ceteri mundi homines tenerentur, apte responderet.”
The investigation of the experts and the opinions
and advice from Our confreres in the Episcopate -- some spontaneously
offered and some solicited by Us -- enabled Us to consider very thoroughly
all aspects of this complex subject. For which reason We offer Our most
sincere thanks to all.
Quibus peritorum investigationibus acceptis, atque sententiis consiliisque a non paucis Fratribus Nostris in Episcopatu partim ad Nos sponte missis, partim a Nobfs rogatis, licuit Nobis omnes multiplicis argumenti partes diligentius perpendere. Quam ob causam universis gratissimum animum Nostrum profitemur.
We could not, however, consider the conclusions of the commission in
themselves as carrying the force of a certain and definite judgment; nor
could their judgment relieve Us of Our duty
of deciding a question of such great importance through Our own
consideration. There were several reasons why this was necessary. First,
there was no full consensus within the commission concerning what moral
norms ought to be proposed. And even more importantly, certain methods
were used in answering the question which departed
from the firm and constant teaching of the Magisterium on what is moral
6. Attamen conclusiones, ad quas Coetus pervenerat, a Nobis tales existimari non poterant, quae vim iudicii certi ac definiti prae se ferrent, quaeque Nos officio liberarent, tam gravis momenti quaestionem per Nosmetipsos consideratione expendendi; his vel etiam de causfs, quod in Coetu plena sententiarum consensio de normfs moralibus proponendis afuerat, quodque praesertim quaedam quaestionis dissolvendae viae rationesque exstiterant, a doctrfna morali de matrfmonio, a Magisterio Ecclesiae firma conscantia proposita, discedentes.
We have carefully evaluated the findings sent to Us
and most thoroughly considered this matter. Now, after assiduous prayer,
We think it right, through the power given to Us by Christ, to give an
answer to these weighty questions.
Quare, actis ad nos missis accurate expensis, re diligentissime mente animoque excussa, assiduisque Deo admotis precibus, vi mandati, Nobis a Christo commissi, nunc gravibus huius generis quaestionibus responsum’dare censemus.
7. The question of having children,16 like
other questions regarding human life, cannot be addressed adequately by
examining it in a piecemeal way, that is, by looking at it through the
perspectives of biology, psychology, demography and sociology. Rather,
[the question] must be addressed in such a way that the whole Man and
the whole mission
[munus] to which he has been called will be taken
into account, for this [mission] pertains not only to his natural and
earthly existence but also to his supernatural and eternal existence.
7. De propaganda prole quaestio,
non secus atque quaelibet quaestio humanam vitam attingens, ultra
particulares alias eiusdem generis rationes - cuiusmodi eae sunt, quae
biologicae aut psychologicae, demographicae aut sociologicae appellantur -
ita circumspicienda est, ut totum hominem, totumque, ad quod is voeatus
est, munus complectatur, quod non tantum ad naturalia et terrena, sed
etiam ad supernaturalia et aeterna pertinet.
Many who attempt to defend artificial ways of limiting the number
of children17 give as their reason the
demands of conjugal love
or their duty to responsible parenthood
sui officii consciae]. [Therefore] it is necessary to provide a precise definition and
explanation of these two important
[gravia] elements of married life. As We undertake to do this, We will keep
foremost in Our minds what was taught about this matter with the highest
authority in The Church in the Modern World
the pastoral constitution recently issued by the Second Vatican Council.
Quoniamque, qui multi artificiosas vias defendere conantur, quibus liberorum numerus coerceatur, iidem sive coniugalis amoris, sive paternitatis sui officii consciae requisita praetexunt, necesse idcirco est, duo haec gravia vitae matrimonialis elementa accurate definire atque illustrare. Quod sane facturi sumus, ea praecipue in memoriam redigentes, quae recens hac de re Concilium Vaticanum II, Constitutione pastorali edita a verbis Gaudium et spes incipiente, summa auctoritate exposuit.
Truly, conjugal love
most clearly manifests to us its true nature and nobility when we
recognize that it has its origin in the highest source, as it were, in
God, Who “is Love”18 and Who is the Father, “from whom
in heaven and earth receives its name.”19
8. Iamvero coniugalis amor tune nobis maxime veram suam naturam nobilitatemque ostendet, si illum, quasi a supremo quodam fonte, a Deo manare cogitaverimus, qui Caritas est, quique Pater est, ex quo omnis paternitas in caelis et in terra nominatur.
|It is false to think, then, that marriage results from chance or from the blind course [cursu] of natural forces. Rather, God the Creator wisely and providently established marriage with the intent that He might achieve His own design of love through Men. Therefore,||Tantum igitur abest, ut matrimonium e casu quodam vel e caeeo naturalium virium cursu nascatur, ut reapse illud sapienter providenterque Creator Deus ea mente instituerit, ut in hominibus suum amoris consilium efficeret.|
through mutual self-giving, which is unique [propriam] and exclusive to them,
Quocirca per mutuam sui donationem, quae ipsorum propria est et exclusoria,
spouses seek a communion of persons [personarum communionem].
coniuges illam persequuntur personarum communionem,
Through this communion, the spouses perfect each other
qua se invicem perficiant,
so that they
might share with God the task
of procreating and educating new living beings.
ut ad novorum viventium procreationem et educationem cum Deo operam socient.
Moreover, for the baptized,
matrimony is endowed
dignity that it is a
sacramental sign of grace representing the union of Christ and
Sacro autem baptismate ablutis, matrimonium eiusmodi praeditum est dignitate, ut gratiae sacramentale signum exsistat, cum Christi et Ecclesiae coniunctionem designet.
Characteristics of Conjugal Love
When these matters are placed in the proper light,
we can clearly see the characteristic marks and requirements of conjugal
love. It is of the greatest importance to have an exact understanding of
9. Quibus rebus in sua luce positis, perspicue et notae et necessitates coniugalis amoris propriae patent, quas maximi est ponderis iustis aestimare momentis.
First of all, [this] love is human and therefore
both of the senses and of the spirit. For which reason, it is a
product not only of natural instinct and inclinations
[affectuum], but it also and primarily involves
an act of free
this act of free will, [the spouses resolve] that their love will not only
persevere through daily joys and sorrows, but will also increase.
Therefore it is especially important that they become one in heart and
soul, and that they obtain together their human perfection.
Est ante omnia amor plane humanus, hoe est sensibilis et spiritualis. Quare non agitur solum de mero vel naturae vel affectuum impetu, sed etiam ac praesertim de liberae voluntatis actu, eo scilicet tendente, ut per cotidianae vitae gaudia et dolores non modo perseveret, sed praeterea augeatur; ita nimirum ut coniuges veluti cor unum et anima una fiant, suamque humanam perfectionem una simul adipiscantur.
Next, this love is total
[pleno]; that is, it is a very special form of
personal friendship whereby the spouses
generously share everything with
each other without undue reservations and without concern for their
selfish convenience. One who truly loves his spouse, not only loves her
for what he receives from her, but also loves her for her own sake. This
he does joyfully, as he enriches [his beloved] with the gift of himself.21
Agit rr deinde de amore pleno, id est de peculiari illa personalis amicitiae forma, in qua coniuges omnia magno animo inter se partiuntur, neque iniustas exceptiones admittunt, vel suis dumtaxat commodis student. Qui coniugem suum re vera amat, eum profecto non tantum ob id quod ab eo accipit, sed propter eurn ipsum amat; idque libens facit, tit eum dono sui ditet.
Furthermore, conjugal love is both
exclusive to the end of life. Such, in fact, do the bride and groom
conceive it to be on the day of their marriage, when they freely and
consciously [planeque conscii]
unite themselves by means of the marital bond [matrimoniali
se vinculo devinxerunt]. Even if fidelity at times presents
difficulties, let no one deny
that it is possible; [rather] fidelity is always noble and of much merit.
The example of many spouses throughout the ages has proven that fidelity
is in accord with the very nature of marriage; even more, it has proven
that intimate and lasting happiness flow from fidelity, just as from a
Ad hoc, coniugalis amor et fidelis et exclusorius est, usque ad vitae extremum; qualem scilicet sponsus et sponsa eo die cogitatione comprehenderunt, quo liberi planeque conscii matrimoniali se vinculo devinxerunt. Quae coniugum fidelitas etsi interdum habeat difficultates, nemini tamen asseverare licet, ea,m non esse possibilem, cum contra quovis tempore nobilis sit meritisque uber. Posita enim volventibus saeculis a tot coniugibus exempla non tantum probant, eam esse matrimonii naturae corn sentaneam, sed insuper ex ea, veluti e fonte, intimam diuturnamque felicitatem fluere.
And finally, this love is fruitful, since the whole
of the love is not contained in the communion of the spouses, but it also
looks beyond itself and seeks to raise up new lives. “Marriage
and conjugal love are ordained [ordinantur]
by their very nature [indole sua]
to the procreating and educating
Offspring are clearly the supreme
gift [donum] of
marriage, a gift which contributes
immensely to the good of the parents themselves.”22
Hie denique amor lecundus est, quippe qui non totus in coniugum communione contineatur, sed eo etiam spectet ut pergat, novasque exsuscitet vitas. Matrimonium et amor coniugalis indole sua ad prolem procreandam et educandam ordinantur. Filii sane sunt praestantissimum matrimonii donum, et ad ipsorum parentum bonum maxime conferunt.
10. For the above
reasons, conjugal love requires that spouses be fully aware of their
mission [munus] of responsible parenthood [paternitatem consciam].
Today’s society justly calls for responsible parenthood; thus it is
important that it be rightly understood. Consequently, we must consider
the various legitimate and interconnected dimensions [rationibus]
10. Quas ob causas amor coniugum ab ipsis exigit, ut munus suum probe noverint, paternitatem consciam attingens, quae, cum hodie optimo iure tantopere urgeatur, est idcirco recte intellegenda. Quapropter variis legitimisque rationibus inter se conexis ea consideretur oportet.
 If we consider biological processes first,
responsible parenthood [paternitas
means that one knows and honors [observantiam]
the responsibilities [munerum] involved in these processes.23
Human reason has discovered that there are
biological laws in the power of
procreating life that pertain to the human person.24
Si primum biologicas processus reputamus, paternitas conscia significat cognitionem et observantiam munerum, ad eos attinentium ; quoniam humana ratio in facultate vitae procreandae biologicas deprehendit leges, quae ad humanam personam pertinent.’
 If then we look to the innate impulses and
inclinations of the soul, responsible parenthood asserts that it is
necessary that reason and will
[dominatio] over these impulses and
inclinations of the soul.
Si deinde ad impulsus innatos et ad animi affectus spectamus, paternitas conscia necessariam declarat dominationem, quam ratio et voluntas in eosdem exerceant necesse est.
 If we look further to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by[:]
(1) those who, guided by prudent consideration and generosity, elect to accept many children.
(2) Those are also to be considered responsible, who,
for serious reasons [seriis
and with due respect for moral precepts,
decide not to have another child
either for a definite or an indefinite amount of time.
Si postea ad condiciones physicas, oeconomicas, psychologicas et sociales respicimus, ii paternitate conscia fungi dicendi sunt, qui aut,
prudenti consideratione magnoque animo ducti, statuunt numerosiores suscipere liberos,
aut, seriis causis moralibusque praeceptis observatis, animum inducunt ut, vel ad certum vel ad incertum tempus, alium filium non gignant.
 The responsible parenthood of which we speak here
has an another intrinsic foundation [intimam rationem]25 of utmost importance: it is
in the objective moral order established by God -- and only an upright
conscience can be a true interpreter of this order. For which reason, the
of responsible parenthood requires that spouses recognize their duties [officia] towards God, towards themselves, towards the family, and towards
human society, as they maintain a correct set of priorities.26
Porro ea, de qua loquimur, conscia paternitas praecipue aliam eamque intimam secum fert rationem, pertinentem ad ordinem moralem, quem obiectivum vocant, a Deoque statutum, cuius recta conscientia est vera interpres. Quapropter paternitatis consciae munus id postulat, ut coniuges sua officia erga Deum, erga seipsos, erga familiam, erga humanam societatem agnoscant, rerum bonorumque ordine recte servato.
For this reason, in regard to the mission [munere] of transmitting human life, it is not
right for spouses to act in accord their own arbitrary judgment [arbitratu suo],
as if it were permissible for them to define altogether subjectively and
willfully [modo ominino proprio ac libero]
what is right for them to do. On the contrary,
they must accommodate their
behavior to the plan of God the Creator, a plan made manifest both by the
very nature of marriage and its acts and also by the constant teaching of
Ex quo fit, ut in tradendae vitae munere iis integrum non sit, se arbitratu suo gerere, quasi ipsis liceat vias honestas, quas sequantur, modo omnino proprio ac libero definire; cum, contra, opera sua ad consilium Dei Creatoris accommodare teneantur, quod hinc ipsa matrimonii eiusque actuum natura exprimit, hinc constans Ecclesiae doctrina declarat.l°
|( 11) Preserving Meaning of Acts [Natural Law] » cont|
|11. The conjugal acts by which spouses intimately and chastely unite [copulantur], and by which human life is transmitted, are, as the recent Council reiterated, “good and worthy of human dignity.”28||11. Hi actus, quibus coniuges intime et caste copulantur, et per quos vita humana propagatur, quemadmodum recens Concilium admonuit, honesti ac digni sunt; 11|
|Conjugal acts do not cease being legitimate if the spouses are aware that they are infertile for reasons not voluntarily caused by them; these acts remain ordained [destinatio] to expressing and strengthening the union of the spouses. Indeed, as experience shows, new life does not arise from each and every act of conjugal union. God has wisely arranged the natural laws and times of fertility so that successive births are naturally spaced.||iidemque legitimi esse non desinunt, etsi infecundi praevideantur propter causas a coniugum voluntate nequaquam manantes, cum non cesset eorum destinatio ad coniugum coniunctionem significandam roborandamque. Revera, ut usu noscitur, non ex unaquaque coniugali congressione nova exoritur vita. Deus enim naturales leges ac tempora fecunditatis ita sapienter disposuit, ut eadem iam per se ipsa generationes subsequentes intervallent.|
But the Church,
which interprets natural law through its unchanging doctrine, reminds
men and women that the teachings based on natural law must be obeyed [observandis],
and teaches that it is necessary
that each and every
conjugal act [matrimonii usus] remain ordained in itself [per se
to the procreating of human life.29 30
Ecclesia, dum homines commonet de observandis praeceptis legis naturalis,
quam constanti sua doctrina interpretatur, id docet necessarium esse, ut quilibet
matrimonii usus ad vitam humanam procreandam per se destinatus
|(12-13) INSEPERABILITY of PROCREATIVE and UNITIVE MEANINGS» cont|
12. The doctrine that the Magisterium of the Church has often explained is this: there is an unbreakable connection [nexu indissolubili] between:
 the UNITIVE meaning and
 the PROCREATIVE meaning [of the conjugal act],
and both are inherent in the conjugal act.
12. Huiusmodi doctrina, quae ab Ecclesiae Magisterio saepe exposita est, in nexu indissolubili nititur, a Deo statuto, quem homini sua sponte infringere non licet, inter
 significationem unitatis et
 significationem procreationis,
quae ambae in actu coniugali insunt.
|This connection was established by God and Man is not permitted to break it through his own volition.|
Therefore, because of its intrinsic nature, [intimam rationem],31 the conjugal act, which unites husband and wife with the closest of bonds, also makes them capable of bringing forth new life according to the laws written into their very natures as male and female. And if both essential meanings [ratio] are preserved, that of union and procreation, the conjugal act fully maintains its capacity for [fostering] true mutual love and its ordination to the highest mission [munus] of parenthood, to which Man is called. Men of our time, we think, are especially able to understand that this teaching is in accord with human reason.
Etenim propter intimam suam rationem, coniugii actus, dum maritum et uxorem artissimo sociat vinculo, eos idoneos etiam facit ad novam vitam gignendam, secundum leges in ipsa viri et mulieris natura inscriptas. Quodsi utraque eiusmodi essentialis ratio, unitatis videlicet et procreationis, servatur, usus matrimonii sensum mutui verique amoris suumque ordinem ad celsissimum paternitatis munus omnino retinet, ad quod homo vocatur. Putamus nostrae aetatis homines aptissimos esse ad perspiciendum, quam haec doctrina sit humanae rationi consentanea.
Faithfulness to the design of God
People rightly understand that
a conjugal act imposed on a spouse, with no consideration given to the
condition of the spouse or to the legitimate desires of the spouse, is
not a true act of love. They understand that such an act opposes
what the moral order rightly requires from spouses.
13. Homines enim merito
animadvertunt, usum matrimonii alteri coniugi impositum, nulla ratione
habita eius status eiusque iustorum optatorum, non esse verum actum
amoris, atque adeo iis adversari rebus, quas circa necessitudines inter
coniuges moralis recte postulat ordo.
To be consistent, then, if they reflect further,
they should acknowledge that it is necessarily true that
an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity of bringing forth life
contradicts both the divine plan which established the nature [normam] of the conjugal bond and
also the will of the first Author of human life. For this
capacity of bringing forth life was designed by God, the Creator of All
according to [His] specific laws.
Pariter, si rem considerent, fateantur oportet, actum amoris mutui, qui facultati vitam propagandi detrimento sit, quam Deus omnium Creator secundum peculiares leges in ea insculpsit, refragari tum divino consilio, ad cuius normam coniugium constitutum est, tum voluntati primi vitae humanae Auctoris.
Thus, anyone who uses God’s
gift [of conjugal love] and cancels, if only in part, the significance
and the purpose [finem]
of this gift, is rebelling [repugnat]
against either the male or female nature and against their most intimate
relationship [intimae necessitudini],
and for this reason, then, he is defying the plan and holy will of God.
On the other hand, the one who uses the gift of conjugal love in accord
with the laws of generation, acknowledges that he is not the lord of the
sources of life, but rather the minister [ministerium]
of a plan initiated by the Creator.
Quapropter cum quis dono Dei utitur, tollens, licet solum ex parte, significationem et finem doni ipsius, sive viri sive mulieris naturae repugnat eorumque intimae necessitudini, ac propterea etiam Dei consilio sanctaeque eius voluntati obnititur. Qui vero amoris coniugalis dono fruitur, leges conservans generationis, is non quidem dominum se confitetur fontium vitae, sed potius ministrum consilii a Creatore initi.
Man does not have unlimited power over his own body in general.
So, too, for good reason, he clearly does not have power over his
generative faculties as such [genitalium virium], for they by their very nature are directed to
bringing forth human life, and God is the source of human life. Indeed,
“Human life must be recognized as sacred by all Men” as Our Predecessor
John XXIII declared, “indeed, from its very beginning it requires the
creative action of God.”32
Sicut enim homo, in universum, corporis sui non habet infinitam potestatem, ita etiam, et sane peculiari ratione, ne genitalium quidem virium qua talium, quoniam hae suapte natura ad vitam humanam progignendam spectant, cuius Deus principium est. Etenim hominum vita pro sacra re est omnibus ducenda - commonebat Decessor Noster f. r. Ioannes XXIII - quippe quae, inde a suo exordio, Creatoris actionem Dei postulet.
|(14) » cont|
14. Thus, relying upon these first principles of human and Christian doctrine concerning marriage,33 we must again insist [edicere] that
14. Quare primariis hisce
principiis humanae et christianae doctrinae de matrimonio nixi, iterum
 the direct interruption of the generative process already begun must be totally rejected as a legitimate means of regulating [temperandi] the number of children.
|omnino respuendam esse, ut legitimum modum numeri liberorum temperandi, directam generationis iam coeptae interruptionem,|
Especially to be rejected is direct abortion -- even if done for the reasons of health.34
|ac praesertim abortum directum, quamvis curationis causa factum.14|
 Furthermore, as the Magisterium of the Church has taught repeatedly, direct sterilization of the male or female, whether permanent or temporary, is equally to be condemned.35
Pariter, sicut Ecclesiae Magisterium pluries docuit, damnandum est seu viros seu mulieres directo sterilitate, vel perpetuo vel ad tempus, afficere.15
Similarly there must be a rejection of all acts
that attempt to impede procreation,36 both those chosen as
means to an end and those chosen as ends. This includes acts that precede
intercourse, acts that accompany intercourse, and acts that are directed
to the natural consequences of intercourse.37
|Item quivis respuendus est actus, qui, cum coniugale commercium vel praevidetur vel efficitur vel ad suos naturales exitus ducit, id tamquam finem obtinendum aut viam adhibendam intendat, ut procreatio impediatur.’I|
|Nor is it possible to justify deliberately depriving conjugal acts of their fertility by claiming that one is choosing the lesser evil. It cannot be claimed that these acts deprived of fertility should be considered together as a whole with past and future fertile acts and thus that they [should be judged] to share in one and the same moral goodness of the fertile acts [of marriage].||Neque vero, ad eos coniugales actus comprobandos ex industria fecunditate privatos, haec argumenta ut valida afferre licet : nempe, id malum eligendum esse, quod minus grave videatur; insuper eosdem actus in unum quoddam coalescere cum actibus fecundis iam antea positis vel postea ponendis, atque adeo horum unam atque parem moralem bonitatem participare.|
|Certainly, it is sometimes permissible to tolerate moral evil -- when it is the lesser evil and when one does so in order that one might avoid a greater evil, or so that one might promote a greater good.38 It is never permissible, however, to do evil so that good might result,39 not even for the most serious reasons.||Verum enimvero, si malum morale tolerare, quod minus grave sit, interdum licet, ut aliquod maius vitetur malum vel aliquod praestantius bonum promoveatur,l’ numquam tamen licet, ne ob gravissimas quidem causas, facere mala ut eveniant bona:|
|That is, one should never willingly choose to do an act that by its very nature violates the moral order [ex propria natura moralem ordinem transgrediatur], for such acts are unworthy of Man for this very reason.||videlicet in id voluntatem conferre, quod ex piopria natura moralem ordinem transgrediatur, atque idcirco homine indignum sit iudicandum,|
This is so even if
one has acted with the intent to defend and advance some good either for
individuals, or for families or for society. Thus, it is a serious error
to think that a conjugal act, deprived deliberately [ex
of its fertility, and which consequently is intrinsically wrong [intrinsece inhonestum],
can be justified by being grouped together with the fertile acts of the
whole of the marriage.
quamvis eo consilio fiat, ut singulorum hominum, domesticorum convictuum, aut humanae societatis
bona defendantur vel provehantur. Quapropter erret omnino, qui arbitretur
coniugalem actum, sua fecunditate ex industria destitutum, ideoque
intrinsece inhonestum, fecundis totius coniugum vitae congressionibus
UNINTENDED STERILITY is PERMISSIBLE
|15. The Church, moreover, does allow the use of medical treatment necessary for curing diseases of the body although this treatment may thwart one’s ability to procreate.||15. Ecclesia autem illas medendi rationes haud illicitas existimat, quae ad morbos corporis curandos necessariae sunt, etiamsi exinde oriatur procreationis impedimentum,|
Such treatment is
permissible even if the reduction of fertility is foreseen, as long as the
infertility is not directly intended for any reason whatsoever.40,41
icet praevisum, dummodo Tie hoe impedimentum ob quamlibet rationem directo intendatur.”
16. Nevertheless, there are some in our times
who oppose the teaching of the Church concerning conjugal morality, as we
noted above (HV 3).
that it is the right and function [munus]
of human reason to restrain the irrational forces of nature and to direct
them to achieving ends which are beneficial to Man. Now some may ask: in
the present day, isn’t it reasonable to use artificial birth control in
many circumstances? Suppose family peace and harmony might better be
achieved, and better provisions might be made for educating the children
16. Attamen, contra huiusmodi Ecclesiae doctrinam de coniugii moribus dirigendis, quidam nostris temporibus opponunt, ut supra animadvertimus (n. 3), rationi humanae ius ac munus esse, eas, quas irrationalis natura ipsi praebuerit, vires temperare easque referre ad assequendum finem hominis bono convenientem. Nunc enim nonnulli quaerunt : ad rein quod attinet, nonne rationi consentaneum est, in tot rerum adiunctis prolis generationem artificiose temperare, si hoc agendi modo familiae tranquillitati atque concordiae melius consulatur, et filiorum, qui iam nati sint, educandorum magis idoneae condiciones parentur?
This question deserves a clear answer: the Church,
of course, is the first to praise and commend the use of the human
intellect in an endeavor which allies Man, rational creature that he is,
so closely with his Creator. But the Church affirms that
this must be done
in accord with the order of reality [rerum
established by God.
Huic quaestioni clare respondere oportet : scilicet Ecclesiam ante omnes primam esse in laudando atque commendando humani intellectus usu in opere, quod hominem, ratione praeditum, tam arte cum Creatore suo consociat; at ipsam affirmare, id peragendum esse, servato rerum ordine a Deo statuto.
there may be serious reasons for spacing
offspring;42 these may be based:
Si igitur iustae adsint causae generationes subsequentes intervallandi, quae a coniugum corporis vel animi condicionibus, aut ab externis rerum adiunctis proficiscantur, Eeclesia docet, tune licere coniugibus sequi vices naturales, generandi facultatibus immanentes, in maritali commercio habendo iis dumtaxat temporibus, quae conceptione vacent, atque adeo nasciturae proli ita consulere, ut morum doctrina, quam modo exposuimus, haudquaquam laedatur.2°
It cannot be denied that the spouses in each case
have, for defensible reasons [probabiles
made a mutual and firm decision to avoid having a child; and [it cannot be
denied] that each of them is attempting to ensure that a child will not be
born. Nevertheless, it must also be acknowledged that only in the first
case are the spouses strong enough to abstain from sexual intercourse
during the fertile times, when, for good reasons [iustae rationes],
offspring are not
desired. And then, when the time is not apt for conception, they make use
of intercourse for the sake of manifesting their mutual love and for the
sake of maintaining their promised fidelity. Clearly when they do this,
they offer a witness to truly and completely upright [recti]
Si infitiandum non est, coniuges in utroque casu mutua certaque consensione prolem ob probabiles rationes vitare velle, atque pro explorato habere liberos minime esse nascituros, attamen fatendum pariter est, in priore tantum casu fieri, ut ipsi coniuges se a maritali amplexu temporibus fecunditatem invehentibus abstinere valeant, quotiescumque ob iustas rationes liberorum procreatio optanda non sit; cum autem tempora conceptibus non apta redierint, fieri ut ipsi utantur commercio ad mutuum testandum amorem atque ad promissam sibi fidem servandam. lidem sane, haec agentes, vere et omnino recti amoris testimonium praebent.
The Church is not inconsistent when it teaches both
that it is morally permissible for spouses to have recourse to infertile
periods and also that all directly contraceptive practices are morally
wrong, even if spouses seem to have good and serious reasons for using
These two situations are
essentially different. In the first, the spouses legitimately use a
faculty that is given by nature; in the second case, the spouses impede
the order of generation [ordo generationis] from completing its own
Ecclesia sibi suaeque doctrinae
constat, sive cum iudicat, coniugibus licere rationem habere temporum,
quae fecunditate careant, sive cum usum earum rerum ut semper illicitum
improbat, quae conceptioni directo officiant, etiamsi haec altera agendi
ratio argumenta repetat, quae honesta et gravia videantur. Etenim hae duae
causae inter se maxime discrepant: in priore, coniuges legitime
facultate utantur, sibi a natura data; in altera vero, fdem impediunt,
quominus generationis ordo suos habeat naturae processus.
|17 Prophetic Consequences|
Serious Consequences Of The Use Of Artificial Methods Of Birth Control
|17. Responsible individuals will quickly see the truth of the Church’s teaching about [contraception], if they consider what consequences will follow from the methods of contraception and the reasons given [vias rationesque] for use of contraception.45||17. Probi homines satius etiam sibi persuaderi possunt de veritate doctrinae, quam Ecclesia hac in re proponit, si mentem convertant ad ea, auae secutura sunt vias rationesque, ad natorum incrementa artificio coercenda adhibitas,|
|They should first consider how easy it will be [for many] to justify behavior leading to marital infidelity or to a gradual weakening in the discipline of morals.46 Not much experience is needed to understand human weakness and to comprehend that human beings, especially the young, are so susceptible to temptation that they need to be encouraged to keep the moral law. It is wrong to make it easy for them to violate this law.||In primis secum recogitent, quam lata et quam facilis via hac agendi ratione patefieri posit, sive ad coniugum infidelitatem, sive ad morum disciplinam passim enervandam. Neque diutunus rerum usus necessarius est, ut quis compertam habeat humanam infirmitatem, atque intellegat homines – ac praesertim iuvenes cupiditatibus tam obnoxious – incitamentis indigeread moralem legem servandam, ac nefas esse iisdem facilem praebere viam ad legem ipsam violandam.|
it is to be feared that
husbands who become accustomed to contraceptive practices will lose
respect for their wives. They may come to disregard their wife’s
psychological and physical equilibrium and use their wives as instruments
for serving their own desires. Consequently, they will
no longer view
their wives as companions who should be treated with attentiveness and
|Id etiam reformidandum est, ne viri, hisce usibus conceptioni officientibus iam assueti,mulierum reverentiam obliviscantur, earumque corporis animique aequilibritate posthabita, easdem quoddam reddant instrumentum suae ipsorum cupiditati inserviens, nec iam eas ut consortes existiment, quas observantia et amore prosequi debeant.|
this prophetic warning casts in the negative a profound insight into what NFP provides through spouses sharing insight with one another. Each is regularly reminded of the other's vulnerability, and invited to protect it.
And, then, let [reasonable individuals] also carefully consider
that a dangerous power will be put into the hands of rulers who care
little about the moral law. Would anyone blame those in the highest
offices of the state for employing a solution [contraception] considered
morally permissible for spouses seeking to solve a family difficulty, when
they strive to solve certain difficulties affecting the whole nation? Who
will prevent public authorities from favoring what they believe to be the
most effective contraceptive methods and from mandating that everyone must
use them, whenever they consider it necessary?
And clearly it will come about
that Men who desire to avoid the difficulties that are part of the divine
law, difficulties that individuals, families, or society may experience,
will hand over to the will of the public authorities the power of
interfering in the most exclusive and intimate mission [munus]
|`Denique diligenter perpendatur, quam periculosa potestas hoc modo iis publicae rei Moderatoribus concedatur, qui de legis moralis praeceptis minimae sint solliciti. Numquis reprehendat supremos Civitatis Moderatores, qui ad totius suae Nationis componendas difficultates id usurpent, quod coniugibus tamquam licitum adnoscatur ad quondam familiae difficultatem dissolvendam? Quid prohibeat, quominus publicae Auctoritates viis concipiendae prolix contraries faveant, quas efficaciores esse duxerint, immo eas omnibus adhibendas praecipiant, quotiescumque id necessarium reputaverint? Ita sane fiat, ut hominess, cum divinae legi insitas difficultates vitare percipiunt, quas singuli, vel familiae, vel socialis convictus experiantur, publicarum Auctoritatum arbitrio potestatem permittant, sese in coniugum maximae proprium et intimum munus interponendi.|
Therefore, if we do not want the mission [officium]
of procreating human life to be conceded to the arbitrary decisions of
Men, we need to recognize that there are some limits to the power of Man
over his own body and over the natural operations [munera]
of the body, that ought not to be transgressed. No one, neither a private
individual nor a public authority, ought to violate these limits. For
these limits are derived from the reverence owed to the whole human body
and its natural operations [naturalibus muneribus],
according to the principles acknowledged above, and according to a proper
understanding of the so-called principle of totality, as explained by Our
Predecessor, Pius XII.47
|Quare, nisi velimus ut procreandae vitae officium hominum arbitratui concedatur, necessario aliquos fines, quos ultra progredi non liceat, agnoscamus oportet illi potestati, quam homo in proprium corpus in eiusque naturalia munera habere potest; fines, dicimus, quas nemini, sive privato sive publica auctoritate praedito, violare licet. Qui limites non aliam ob causam statuuntur, quam ob reverentiam, quae toti humano corpori eiusque naturalibus muneribus debetur, secundum principia, quae supra memoravimus, et rectam intellegentiam principh totalitatis, ut aiunt, quod Decessor Noster v. m. Pius XII illustravit.zl|
|(18-22) » cont|
It is possible to
predict that perhaps not everyone will be able to accept a teaching of
this sort easily. After all, there are so many critical voices --
broadcast widely by modern means of communication -- that are contrary to
the voice of the Church. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Church
finds herself a sign of contradiction48 -- just as was
[Christ], her Founder. But this is no reason for the Church to abandon the
duty entrusted to her of preaching the whole moral law firmly and humbly
-- both the natural law and the law of the Gospel.
18. Praevideri potest, non omnes fortasse traditam huiusmodi doctrinam facile accepturos esse, cum nimis multae obstrepant voces, quae, recentioribus divulgationis instrumentis auctae, ab Ecclesiae voce discrepent. Ecclesia autem, cui mirum non est, se, haud secus ac divinum Conditorem suum, positam esse in signum cui contradicetur,” non idcirco iniunctum sibi praetermittit officium, totam legem moralem, cum naturalem tum evangelicam, humiliter ac firmiter praedicandi.
Since the Church did not make either of these laws,
she cannot change them. She can only be their guardian and interpreter;
thus it would never be right for her to declare as morally permissible
that which is truly not so. For what is immoral is by its very nature
always opposed to the true good of Man.
Cum Ecclesia utramque hanc legem non condiderit, eiusdem non arbitra, sed tantummodo custos atque interpres esse potest, eique numquam fas erit licitum declarare, quod revera illicitum est, cum id suapte natura germano hominis bono semper repugnet.
By preserving the whole moral law of marriage, the
Church knows that she is supporting the growth of a true civilization
among Men. She encourages Man not to abdicate human duties by overreliance
upon technology. In this way, she safeguards the dignity of spouses.
Devoted to the example and teaching of the Divine Savior, the Church shows
her sincere and generous love for Men as she strives to help them, even
during their earthly pilgrimage, “to share, as sons [and daughters], the
life of the living God, the Father of all Men.”49
Dum moralem coniugii legem integram servat, Ecclesia probe novit se adiutricem operam conferre ad verum civilem cultum inter homines instaurandum; ac praeterea hominem incitat, ne se officiis suis abdicet, technicis artibus sese committens; quo fit, ut ipsa coniugum dignitatem in tuto ponat. Hac agendi ratione Ecclesia, Divini Salvatoris exemplo et doctrinae inhaerens, ostendit se sincero generosoque amore prosequi homines, quos inde ab hoe terrestri itinere iuvare contendit, ut non secus atque AM vitam Dei viventis, omnium hominum Patris, participent.23
19. We would hardly be
adequately expressing the thoughts and solicitude of the Church, the
Mother and Teacher of all nations, if after encouraging Men to keep and
respect the law[s] of God concerning marriage, We did not also offer them
support in morally permissible methods of regulating their family size;
[after all] ours is a time when families and nations face harsh
conditions. But the Church can only conduct herself as did the Divine
Redeemer; she knows mankind’s weakness; she has compassion on the
multitude, and she forgives their sins. She cannot, however, do otherwise
than to teach the law which is proper to human life restored to its
original truth and guided by the Spirit of God.50
19. Verba autem haec Nostra haud plane Ecclesiae, omnium gentium Matris ac Magistrae, cogitationes et sollicitudines exprimerent, nisi homines, antea ad Dei legem de coniugio servandam colendamque incitatos, in liberorum numero honeste ordinando etiam sustinerent inter ipsas asperas vitae condiciones, quibus domestici convictus ac nationes nostro hoe tempore premuntur. Ecclesia enim erga homines non aliter ac Divinus Redemptor se gerere potest : scilicet eorum infirmitatem cognoscit, miseratur turbas, peccatores excipit; facere autem non potest, quin legem doceat, quae reapse propria est vitae humanae ad suam germanam veritatem restitutae, atque a Dei Spiritu actae.”
The Possibility of Observing the Divine Law
20. The teaching of the Church about the proper
spacing of children is a promulgation of the divine law itself. No doubt
many will think this teaching difficult to keep, if not impossible. And
truly, just as with all good things outstanding for their nobility and
utility, [keeping] this law requires strong motivation and much effort
from individual Men, from families, and from society. Indeed, this law is
not able to be kept without the abundant grace of God, upon which the good
moral choices [bona
of Men depend and from which they get their strength. Moreover, those who
consider this matter thoroughly will see that [their] efforts [to keep
God’s law] increase human dignity and confer benefits on human society.
20. Ecclesiae doctrina de liberorum incremento recte ordinando, quae legem divinam ipsam promulgat, sine dubio multis talis videbitur, ut nonnisi difficulter, immo etiam nullo modo servari possit. At revera, sicut bona omnia quae sua nobilitate et utilitate praestant, haec lex a singulis hominibus, a familiis et ab hominum consortione firma proposita multosque labores postulat. Immo eadem servari nequit nisi opitulante Dei gratia, qua bona hominum voluntas fulcitur ac roboratur. Iis autem, qui rem diligenter perpendant, labores illi profecto videbuntur hominum dignitatem augere et humanae societati beneficia conferre.
21. Moral family
planning requires that spouses recognize and value the true goods of life
and the family, and also that they acquire the habit of
[moderari]of themselves and their desires
In order to control the drives of
nature, the spouses need to become self-denying
[asceseos] through using their reason and free will.
Only then will the manifestations of love appropriate for married couples
be what they ought to be. Self-mastery is especially necessary for those
who practice periodic abstention.
21. Recta autem et honesta nasciturae prolis ordinatio id primum a coniugibus postulat, ut vera vitae familiaeque bona penitus agnoscant et existiment, itemque sibi ac suis motibus perfecte moderari consuescant. Nihil profecto est dubii, quin naturae impetibus, rationis liberaeque voluntatis ope, imperare asceseos sit opus, ut nempe amoris significationes, coniugalis vitae propriae, cum recto ordine congruant; quod praesertim ad usum continentiae, certis temporis intervallis servandae, requiritur.
Truly, discipline of this sort -- from which
conjugal chastity shines forth -- cannot be an obstacle to love.
discipline imbues love with a deeper human meaning. Although [such
control] requires continuous effort, it also helps the spouses become
strong in virtue and makes them rich with spiritual goods. And this
[virtue] fosters the fruits of tranquility and peace in the home and helps
in the solving of difficulties of other kinds.
It aids spouses in becoming
more tender with each other and more attentive to each other. It assists
them in dispelling that inordinate self-love that is opposed to true
charity. It strengthens in them an awareness of their responsibilities [munerum exsequendorum]. And finally it provides parents with a sure and
efficacious authority for educating their children. As [their] children
advance through life they will come to a correct appreciation of the true
goods of Man and employ peacefully and properly the powers of their mind
Verum huiusmodi disciplina, unde coniugum castimonia elucet, adeo eorum amori non obest, ut maiore eundem humanitatis sensu perfundat. Quodsi huiusmodi disciplina assiduam virium intentionem exigit, salutari tamen eius virtute coniuges seipsos plene excolunt spiritualibusque bonis ditantur : ea enim domestico convictui amplos tranquillitatis ac pacis fructus affert, atque solvendis alius generis diffcultatibus prodest; ea alterius coniuges curam et observantiam erga alterum fovet; coniuges in immodico sui amore depellendo, qui germanae repugnat caritati, adiuvat; eosdemque ad conscientiam munerum exsequendorum exigit. Ea denique parentibus intimam et efficaciorem auctoritatem ad liberol educandos confert, dum pueri et iuveres, aetate procedentes, vera hominis bona congruenter putant, et mertis sensuumque vires placide et apte exercent.
Creating an atmosphere favorable to chastity
22. We would like to take this opportunity to advise
educators and all others whose right and duty it is to be concerned
about the common good. They need to work to create conditions favorable
to the cultivation of chastity, so that the norms of the moral order
might be kept and true freedom might prevail over license.
22. Hanc vero nacti opportunitatem, educatores, eosque omnes, quorum ius et officium est communi humanae consortionis bono prospicere, commonere volumus de necessitate eum rerum statum inducendi, qui colendae castitati faveat, ut scilicet germana libertas licentiam vincat, moralis ordinis normis plane servatis.
Therefore, all those who are concerned with
improving civilization and all who wish to protect the most important
human goods should condemn with one voice all the forms of entertainment
in today’s modern society that arouse Man’s [base] passions and that
foster dissolute morals -- such as obscene literature and corrupt
theatrical and film productions. It would be perverse if anyone were to
attempt to defend depravity of this kind by appealing to the needs of
art or learning,51 or by appealing to arguments of “freedom
of expression” concerning what authorities may permit in the public
Quidquid ergo hodie in socialis, ut aiunt, communicationis instrumentis sensus commovet dissolutosque mores alit, pariterque quaevis scribendi obscenitas turpiumque specta culorum forma palam atque uno ore iis omnibus improbanda sunt viris, qui tum civilis cultus provehendi, tum praecipuo. rum animi bonorum tuendorum sollicitudine tenentur. Perperam enim huiusmodi pravitates quis probare conetur, causas ex artibus doctrinisque quaerens,’’ vel argumenta sumens ex libertate, quam forte hac in provincia publicae Auctoritates permittant.
Appeal to public authorities
23. And We must also address the rulers of
nations since they have chief responsibility for the common good and are
able to work towards safeguarding good morals. [We say to them:] Do not
allow the worthy morals of your own people to be corrupted; Do not allow
the law to be used to introduce into the family -- that primary unit of
the state -- practices opposed to the natural and divine law. For surely
civil authority can find and ought to use other means to resolve the
problem of the increase of population: namely, they should legislate laws
protective of the family and they should wisely educate the populace to
safeguard both the moral law and the [true] liberty of the citizens.
23. Ita igitur Nationum Rectores alloqui placet, quippe quibus potissimum onus boni communis tutandi iniunctum sit, liceatque tantopere ad bonos tuendos mores conferre : ne umquam patiantur honestos corruere mores suorum populorum ; prohibeant omnino, ne per leges in familiam, quae primaria est particula Civitatis, ii usus incedant, qui naturali et divinae legi adversentur. Alia enim via civilis Auctoritas quaestionem de multitudinis incremento dissolvere et potest et debet videlicet providas familiis leges ferendo populosque tam sapienter educando, ut sive morum lex sive civium libertas in tuto collocentur.
Indeed We know well what a source of great
difficulty [overpopulation is] for leaders of a state, especially in the
developing nations. Indeed, We had these justifiable concerns in mind when
We issued the encyclical letter Populorum
But here let Us reiterate the words of Our Predecessor, John XXIII:
Equidem probe novimus, quantum
haec causa difficultatis afferat publicae rei Moderatoribus, in iis
praesertim Civitatibus quae ad progressum nituntur. Atque Nos, iustas,
quibus afficiuntur, curas perspicientes, Encyclicas Litteras edidimus,
Populorum Progressio est
index. Sed nunc una cum Decessore Nostro ven. rec. Ioanne XXIII haec verba
. . . it is necessary to solve these problems in
such a way that Man does not use methods and means opposed to the dignity
of Man. [State authorities] ought not to fear rejecting [the views] of
those who hold that Man himself and his life are in every respect only
material realities. We think this problem ought to be resolved only
through economic and social progress that both respects each and every
individual and the whole of society and that also increases goods
deserving of the name.52
... dissolvi oportere, ut neque vias homo neque rationes sequatur, a sua
dignitate aversas; quales ii tradere non verentur, qui hominem ipsum
eiusque vitam ad materiam omni ex parte re ferendos esse opinantur. Hanc
quaestionem sic tantummodo dissolvi posse censemus, si rerum oeconomicarum
et socialium progressiones cum singulorum civium tum universae humanae
societatis servent et augeant veri nominis bona.”
Truly it would be a grave injustice to attribute to
divine providence [a state of affairs] which seems be the result of unwise
government policies, or of a rather weak sense of social justice, or
because there has been a hoarding of goods for one’s selfish use, or
finally because of a careless negligence in undertaking the labors and
tasks by which every people and all their offspring achieve a better
standard of living.53 Certainly some authorities have already
begun to renew impressive efforts in regard to these matters; all
authorities should energetically join these efforts. All members of the
great human family should increase their zeal for coming to one
another’s assistance; [indeed] We think the opportunity for involvement
by international aid organizations is nearly unbounded.
Neque profecto sine gravi iniuria fiat, si divinae Providentiae id tribuatur, quod, contra, proficisci videtur a minus sapienti reipublicae gubernandae ratione, vel a tenuiore quodam socialis iustitiae sensu, vel a bonorum copia sui commodi causa congesta, vel denique a socordi neglegentia in laboribus oneribusque suscipiendis, quibus populus omnesque eius filii ad amplius vivendi genus evehantur.” Utinam universae Auctoritates, quas penes res est - quemadmodum earum quaedam tam egregie iam faciunt - incepta ac nisus excitatis viribus renovent ! Neque remittat studium mutua communicandi auxilia inter omnes magnae hominum familiae partes : hanc prope infinitam provinciam patere putamus, in qua maxima Instituta, ad plures nationes pertinentia, suam operam ponant.
Appeal to men of science
24. Let Us also
encourage scientists, who “are able to do much for the good of marriage
and family and are able to assist peace of conscience if with their united
efforts they attempt to clarify the conditions which favor a moral
ordering of human procreation.”54 This ought especially to be
hoped for -- a request made earlier by Pius XII -- that medical science,
through the observation of natural cycles [of fertility], strive to
establish a satisfactorily clear basis for the moral regulation of
offspring.55 In this way scientists -- and especially those who
proudly claim to be Catholic -- will make it clear through their own work
that, as the Church teaches, “no true contradiction exists between the
divine laws for transmitting life and those for fostering true conjugal
24. Nunc autem Nostrae cohortationis verbis viros scientiarum studiosos prosequi libet, qui multum bono matrimonii et familiae, pacique conscientiarum inservire possunt, si collatis studiis diversas condiciones, honestae ordinationi procreationis humanae faventes, penitius elucidare conentur.” Id enim in primin exoptandum est - quod antea fuit Pii XII votum - ut medica ars ad honeste temperandae prolis satis certum fundamentum statuere valeat, quod in perspectis naturalibus vicibus consistat.” Ita quidem docti homines, ii praesertim qui catholico nomine censentur, sua data opera res plane se habere ostendent, ut Ecclesia docet, nempe veram contradictionem inter divinas leges vitae transmittendae et germani amoris coniugalis fovendi adesse non posse.”.
Appeal to Christian spouses
25. Now Our attention
must be directed in a particular way to Our sons and daughters and
especially to those whom God calls to serve Him in the state of matrimony.
For the Church, who teaches the inviolable conditions of the divine law,
also proclaims salvation and through the sacraments unlocks the sources of
grace. [For it is by these means] that Man is made a new creature who
responds with charity and true liberty to the heavenly plan of his Creator
and Savior and who finds the yoke of Christ to be sweet.57
25. Nunc vero Nostra oratio peculiari modo ad filios Nostros convertitur, ad eos praesertim, quos Deus in matrimonii statu ad sibi serviendum vocat. Ecclesia enim, dum inviolabiles divinae legis condiciones tradit, salutem nuntiat viasque gratiae per sacramenta, reserat, unde homo nova efiicitur creatura, quae in caritate germanaque libertate superno sui Creatoris et Salvatoris consilio respondeat suaveque etiam Christi iugum sentiat.”
Therefore, let Christian spouses humbly obey the
voice of the Church and remember that their proper vocation [vocationem]
in the Christian life began with baptism, and was more fully specified and
confirmed anew with the sacrament of marriage. For by the sacrament of
marriage spouses are strengthened and, as it were, are consecrated so that
they might faithfully fulfill their duties [munia],
so that they might bring their vocation [vocationem]
to its perfect end and so that, as befits them, they might openly offer
the world a Christian witness.58 To them the Lord entrusts [committit] the mission [munus]
of making manifest to Men the holiness and indeed sweetness of the law
that unites their mutual love and generous service [adiutrice
closely to the love of God, the author of human life.
Eius igitur voci modeste obsecuti, christiani coniuges meminerint, suam vocationem ad vitam christianam, e baptismate exortam, sacramento Matrimonii amplius et explicatam et confirmatam esse. Eodem namque ipsi roborantur et veluti consecrantur, ut fideliter munia sua exsequantur, vocationem ad expletam sui formam perficiant, christianumque testimonium, ut eos addecet, coram mundo edant.” Tale enim munus Dominus iisdem committit, ut hominibus patefaciant illius legis sanctitatem itemque suavitatem, qua mutuus eorum amor cum adiutrice opera ab ipsis data amori Dei, humanae vitae auctoris, arte coniungitur.
Certainly We do not wish to ignore the
difficulties, the sometimes serious difficulties, that Christian spouses
might encounter, since for them, as for everyone, “the gate is narrow,
and the way is difficult that leads to life.”59 Nevertheless
their way will be illuminated by the hope of this life -- just as by the
clearest light -- as long as they strive courageously “to live wisely
and justly and piously in this world,”60 knowing that “the
form of this world passes away.”61
Nullo sane modo hic reticere volumus difficultates, interdum graves, in geas christianorum coniugum vita incurrit nam iis, ut unicuique nostrum, angusta porta, et arta via est, quae ducit ad vitam.” 9ttamen huiusce spe vitae tamquam clarissima luce eorum iter collustretur, dum forti contendunt animo, ut sobrie et iuste et pie vivant in hoe saeculo,” plane noscentes praeterire figuram huius mundi.”
Therefore, let spouses willingly take up the labors
that have been assigned [destinatos]
to them, strengthened both by faith and by hope, which “do not
disappoint: because the charity of God is poured into our hearts through
the Holy Spirit who is given to us.” 62 Let them constantly
pray for divine assistance. And let them especially drink of grace and
charity from the eternal font of the Eucharist. If, however, they are
hampered by their sins, let them not lose heart, but let them humbly and
constantly flee to the mercy of God, which the sacrament of penance
abundantly provides. It is by this way of life that spouses will be able
to advance towards perfection in their married life, which the Apostle
explains in these words:
Quapropter coniuges destinatos sibi labores libenter suscipiant, cum fide tum ea spe roborati, quae non confundit: quia caritas Dei di ffusa est in cordibus nostris per Spiritum Sanctum, qui dates est nobis; “ assidua deinde prece divinum auxilium implorent atque praesertim e perenni Eucharistiae fonte gratiam et caritatem hauriant. Si autem peccatis adhuc retineantur, ne concidant animo, sed humiles et constantes ad Dei misericordiam confugiant, quam abunde Paenitentiae sacramentum dilargitur. Huiusmodi profecto ratione ad coniugalis vitae perfectionem pervenire poterunt, quam Apostolus his verbis exponit :
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the
Church ( . . .) Therefore also husbands ought to love their wives as their
own bodies. For he who loves his wife, loves himself. Indeed, no one is
able to hate his own flesh; but he nourishes it and cares for it, as
Christ does for the Church ( . . .). And this is true for each and
everyone of you: let everyone love his wife as he loves himself; and let
wives respect their husbands.63
Viri diligite uxores vestras, sicut et Christus dilexit Ecclesiam (...) Ita et viri debent diligere uxores suas ut corpora sua. Qui suam uxorem diligit, seipsum diligit. Nemo enim umquam carnem suam odio habuit : sed nutrit, et fovet eam, sicut et Christus Ecclesiam (...) Sacramentum hoc magnum est, ego autem dico in Christo et in Ecclesia. Verumtamen et vos singuli, unusquisque uxorem suam sicut seipsum diligat : uxor autem timeat virum suum.
Apostolate of spouses
26. Moreover, great
fruits are to be expected when the divine law is kept by a devout soul.
The most outstanding of these fruits results from the frequent desire of
spouses to share their experience with other spouses. Thus it happens that
a new and especially worthy kind of apostolate is added to the already
ample vocation of the laity: like will minister to like. That is, spouses
fulfill their apostolic mission [munus]
in behalf of other spouses by becoming guides for them. Among all the
forms of Christian apostolate this apostolate seems most suitable today.64
26. Eorum autem fructuum, qui maturescunt si acri animi intentione lex divina custoditur, praestantissimus sane colligitur, cum ipsi coniuges hand raro alios quoque experientiae suae participes facere cupiunt. Inde fit, ut ipsa laicorum vocationis amplitudine novum quoddam ac perinsigne apostolatus genus comprehendatur, quo pares paribus inserviunt : tum enim ipsi coniuges apostolicum pro ceteris coniugibus munus obeunt, quibus sese duces praebent. Quod profecto inter tot christiani apostolatus formas opportunissimum hodie esse videtur.38
To doctors and health care professionals
27. Let Us express Our
highest admiration for doctors and those health professionals, who, in
performing their mission [munus],
desire to safeguard what is compatible with their Christian vocation
rather than what corresponds to some human advantage [utilitatem].
Therefore let them constantly pursue only those solutions that are in
accord with faith and right reason. And let them strive to gain the
agreement and the compliance [observationem] of their colleagues in this
matter. Moreover, let them consider it their special mission [munus]
to acquire all the necessary learning in this difficult area. Thereby they
may be able to give good advice to spouses seeking their counsel and to
direct them along the right path. Spouses rightly seek such direction from
27. Egregiam pariter reverentiam praestamus medicis artisque salutaris ministris, qui, in suo quisque munere exsequendo, ea quae ab ipsis praecipua christianae vocationis ratio postulat, potius quam humanam quamlibet utilitatem, servare student. Constantes igitur perseverent in proposito iis semper consihis favendi, quae et fidei et rectae rationi adhaerescant, eoque conten dant, ut iisdem in peculiari suo coetu assensionem et observantiam concilient. Praetereaque id tamquam proprium artis suae munus habeant, necessariam huiusce difcilioris provinciae doctrinam sibi plane comparare, ut nempe sententiam exquirentibus coniugibus recta dare consilia iustamque ostendere viam possint, quae iure ac merito ab ipsis postulentur.
28. With complete
confidence We call upon you priests, Our beloved sons, you who are the
advisors and spiritual guides of individuals and families. For it is your
great and manifest mission [munere]
-- and We address especially those of you who are moral theologians -- to
promote completely and clearly the teaching of the Church concerning
marriage. In performing your ministry you must be an example of the
sincere obedience [obsequii] that must be given both inwardly and
outwardly to the Magisterium of the Church. For truly, you know that you
are bound to such obedience [obsequio]
not only for the reasons given [in behalf of a teaching], but also on
account of the light of the Holy Spirit, whose guidance the Fathers of the
Church particularly enjoy when setting forth the truth.65 Nor
let it escape you that it is of the utmost importance for safeguarding the
peace of souls and the unity of the Christian people, that in moral as in
dogmatic matters, all should obey the Magisterium of the Church and should
speak with one voice. Wherefore, adopting the anxious words of the great
Apostle Paul, We call upon you again with Our whole heart: “I beg . . .
you brothers through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: that you might all
speak as one and that there might be no division among you: that you may
be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”66
28. Vos autem, dilecti Filii sacerdotes, qui pro sacro, quo fungimini, munere sive singulorum hominum sive familiarum consultores ac spiriteales duces agitis, magna Nos pleni fiducia compellamus. Vestrum namque praecipuumque officium est - vos praesertim alloquimur, qui moralem theologiam traditis - Ecclesiae de matrimonio doctrinam integre aperteque proponere. Vos primi in ministerio vestro perfungendo exemplum sinceri obsequii edite, quod interius exteriusque ecclesiastico Magisterio tribuendum est. Etenim nostis tali vos obsequio devinciri non potius illis de caesis, quae allatae sunt, quam ob Sancti Spiritus lumen, quo praecipue Ecclesiae Pastores in explananda veritate fruuntur.” Neque vos fugit, summi esse momenti, ad animorum pacem populique christiani unitatem servandam, ut in re morali ita in re dogmatica, omnes Ecclesiae Magisterio parere eodemque uti sermone. Quamobrem, sollicitiora verba magni Apostoli Pauli usurpantes, toto vos pectore iterum appellamus : Obsecro ... vos fratres per nomen Domini nostri Iesu Christi: ut idipsum dicatis omnes, et non sint in vobis schismata: sitis autem perfecti in eodem sensu, et in eadem sententia.4°
| CCC 2359 [Hom]|
29. Refusal to compromise anything concerning the
saving doctrine of Christ is an outstanding act of charity to souls; yet,
at the same time it is necessary always to combine this with
charity. When He spoke and associated with Men, the Redeemer Himself
exemplified this truth. Coming not to judge the world but to save it, He
was severe against sin but patient and merciful to sinners.67
29. Porro si nihil de salutari Christi doctrina demittere praecellens quoddam caritatis erga animos genus est, at idem semper cum tolerantia atque caritate coniungatur oportet, quarum ipse Redemptor, cum hominibus et collogeens et agens, exempla prodidit. Is enim, cum venisset non ad iudicandum, sed ad salvandum mundum,” acerbe quidem severus in peccata, sed patiens ac misericors in peccatores fuit.
Therefore, let spouses in their times of trouble
find in the speech and hearts of their priests, the image of the voice and
love of our Redeemer.
Suis igitur difficultatibus afflictati, coniuges in sermone et in corde sacerdotis expressam veluti imaginem vocis et amoris nostri Redemptoris inveniant.
So Beloved Sons, preach with full confidence and be
certain that the Holy Spirit of God, who guides the Magisterium in its
teaching, will illuminate the hearts of the faithful and invite them to
give their assent. Teach spouses the indispensability of prayer; instruct
them properly so that they may come regularly and with great faith to the
sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance and
that they may never become
discouraged because of their weakness.
Fiduciae autem pleni loquamini, dilecti Filii, pro certo habentes, Sanctum Dei Spiritum, dum adest Magisterio rectam proferenti doctrinam, intus corda fidelium illustrare eosque ad assentiendum invitare. Coniuges vero necessariam precandi viam edocete, apteque instituite, ut saepius magna cum fide ad Eucharistiae et Paenitentiae sacramenta accedant, neque umquam pro sua infirmitate animos demittant.
Now, at the
conclusion of this encyclical letter, Our mind reverently and lovingly
turns to you [Bishops], beloved and venerable Brothers in the episcopal
mission [munus]; with you We share very closely the care
of the spiritual good of the people of God. We make this urgent request of
you: We ask all of you to take the lead with the priests who assist your
sacred ministry, and all your faithful. With complete zeal and with no
delay, devote yourselves to keeping marriage safe and holy, so that the
life of married couples may draw more closely to its proper human and
Christian perfection. Truly consider this as the greatest responsibility
[opus] of your mission [munus]
and the greatest work [onus] committed to you at the present time. As you
well know, [your] mission [munus]
requires a certain coordination of pastoral ministry in all areas of human
activity, including economic, social and cultural matters. If progress is
gained on all these fronts at the same time, then not only will family
life of parents and children be more tolerable, it will be easier and
happier. Once the plan God conceived for the world is faithfully kept,
fellowship in society will be richer in fraternal charity and more safely
grounded in a true peace.
30. Sed nunc, Encyclicas hasce Litteras concludentes, ad vos, dilecti ac venerabiles in episcopali munere Fratres, quibuscum curas de spirituali bono Populi Dei artius participamus, mentem Nostram reverenter amanterque convertimus. Etenim vos omnes instanti hac petitione invitamus, ut vestris praeeuntes sacerdotibus, sacri ministerii adiutoribus, vestrisque fideliums, omni studio nullaque mora in matrimonii tutelam in eiusque sanctitudinem asserendam incumbatis, quo magis usque coniugalis vita humanam christianamque sui perfectionem assequatur. Id vero muneris tamquam maximum opus et onus, in praesenti vobis commissum, habetote. Nam, ut plane nostrs, idem munus certam pastoralis ministerii ordinationem postulat, quae ad omnes humanae industriae provincias, nempe ad res oeconomicas, bonas doctrinas, socialesque rationes pertinet : quae omnia si magis simulque progredientur, tum non solum tolerabilior, sed et facilior itemque laetior vita parentum ac liberorum in intimo familiarum sinu evadet, atque fraterna uberior caritate veraque pace tutior fiet convictus in hominum societate, sancte servato consilio, quod Deus de mundo mente concepit.
31. Venerable Brothers,
most beloved sons, and all men and women of good will, We now call you to
the splendid work of education and growth in charity. Relying upon the
teaching of the Church, We, as the successor to Peter together with the
whole brotherhood of bishops, faithfully guard and interpret it. Truly
this is a great work, for it affects the good of the world and the Church.
None can achieve true happiness, the happiness that they desire with the
strength of their whole soul, unless they observe the laws inscribed on
their nature by the Most High God. To be happy Man must prudently and
lovingly cultivate these laws. Therefore, upon this important work and
upon all of you and most especially upon married couples, We invoke a
wealth of supernatural graces given by our most holy and merciful God. As
a pledge of these graces, We freely give you Our Apostolic blessing.
31. Vos, venerabiles Fratres, vos dilectissimi Filii, vosque omnes bonae voluntatis homines, ad grande profecto opus et educationis et progressionis atque caritatis Nos nunc advocamus, firmissima freti Ecclesiae doctrina, quam Petri Successor, una cum catholici episcopatus Fratribus, fideliter custodit atque interpretatur. Quod magnum revera opus, ut persuasissimum Nobis habemus, tum mundi tum Ecclesiae bono cedit, siquidem homo ad veram felicitatem, quam totis sui animi viribus affectat, pervenire nequit, nisi leges observat, a summo Deo in ipsius natura insculptas, quae sunt prudenter amanterque colendae. Tanto igitur operi, nee non vobis omnibus ac potissimum coniugibus, a Deo sanctissimo et misericordissimo supernarum copiam gratiarum imploramus, quarum pignus Apostolicam Nostram Benedictionem libenter vobis impertimus.
Given at Rome, from St. Peter’s on the
twenty-fifth day of July, on the feast of James the Apostle, in the year
1968, the sixth year of Our Pontificate.
Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die xxv mensis Iulii, in festo S. Iacobi Apostoli, anno MCMLxvzu, Pontificatus Nostri sexto.
POPE PAUL VI
PAULUS PP. VI
1 The claim that Humanae Vitae was
written in Italian and French is made by Lucio Brunelli, “The Pill
that Divided the
Thirty Days no. 4 (July-August 1988) p. 66. A comparison of some of the
Italian phrases with the Latin can be found in Innocentius Parisella,
Voces Locutionesque in Encyclicis Litteris Humanae Vitae Occurentes
Italico Comparatae,” Ephemerides Iuris Canonici 24 (1968) 265-270 and
reprinted in Latinitas 17 (1969) 115-120. In
preparation for this translation reference was made to six English translations.
most commonly available translation is that first published in the English
edition of the L’Osservatore Romano when Humanae Vitae was released
made widely available in this country through the Daughters of Saint
(hereafter referred to as the “usual
translation” and designated by HV). Popular,
too, is the
translation by Rev. Marc Calegari. S. J., Humanae Vitae, (San
Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1978 (hereafter IP). The Catholic Truth
a translation, done by Rev. Alan C. Clark D.D. and Rev. Geoffrey
(London: Catholic Truth Society, 1968 [hereafter CTS] with a revised
edition in 1970 [hereafter CTS2); a revised version of the CTS
translation is also
be found in The Pope Speaks 13:4 (1969) 329-346 [hereafter CTS3]). (It is
difficult to determine the extent of the revisions, but they seem not
significant, except for the crucial last line
of Humanae Vitae 11; see the comment
on this section
in the following notes.) A text that seems to be identical to CTS2 is
published in Vatican Council II v. II, ed. by Austin Flannery, O. P.
Costello Publishing Company, 1982) 397-416, though the claim is made that
the translation was done by the Vatican Press Office, p. 414). Although
is accompanied by the notice that it was made on the basis of the
Latin Text it seems to this reader to be truer to the Italian, except
for in a few
passages. The only translation that used the Latin as the primary base is
that by A. Durand, “‘The Encyclical’-A Fresh Translation,”
Homiletic and Pastoral
LXIX, 11 (August 1969) 851-864 (hereafter HPR), which seems to this
reader to be quite a free translation. I am indebted to these
translators for felicity
phrasing that I have “borrowed” on occasion. The translation published here
based on the Latin,though on a few occasions, when the Latin seemed
irrecoverably obscure, recourse was made to the Italian.
2 See Chapter Two, pages , for a discussion of the
3 This second line has been translated “for which
married persons are the free
responsible collaborators of God the Creator.” The Italian word for
“collaborators” appears in the Italian and may be an echo of Gaudium
50.2 that makes reference to the duty of transmitting
and educating human life [in
vitam transmittendi atque educandi] and speaks of spouses as
cooperators and interpreters of God’s love in this duty [cooperatores
. . . amoris
Creatoris]. But in Latin the phrase is “tribuunt operam.” “Operam” is
“opus;” the Lewis and Short Latin dictionary notes that “opus is used
mostly of the mechanical activity of work, as that of animals, slaves,
supposes a free will and desire to serve.” “Opera” is more properly
“service.” “Tribuunt” has very much the sense of “pay back” or
“render;” “transmitting life” is, indeed, something which the
spouses do with God,
the way it is stated here puts some emphasis on the fact that in doing so, they
perform a service or give a return to God for the munus He has entrusted
interpretation coincides with the meaning of munus as a task which God
delegates to Man, and, in a sense, needs him to do, so that He may
“Consciam” is the word which later in the document is allied with
parenthood) and with it is translated as “responsible parenthood;”
unlike animal reproduction which takes place instinctively and involves
physical care for one’s offspring, human parenthood is of an entirely
order. Humans, when engaging in sexual intercourse are capable of
result of this intercourse may be the conception of a child. For them to engage
in sexual intercourse responsibly they must be prepared to be good
parents to a
More is said about responsible parenthood in Section 10, but the presence
of the word “consciam” here indicates that “transmitting human
life” involves more
4 This first sentence of the second paragraph has been
translated: “At all times
fulfillment of this duty has posed grave problems . . . .” This translation
follows the Italian rather than the Latin. “Problems” is the English
“problemi” but it is not perhaps the best translation even of the Italian.
Italian the word is closer in meaning to the English “questions” (a
cognate of the
used here) which means a query that one might raise about something; it is
more neutral than “problems” which connotes that one has some
Indeed, there is the suggestion here that it is not always easy for
spouses to understand the munus which is theirs and that at times it can
for them to accept it, but it is important not to stress the acknowledgement
that a munus may involve difficulties without, at the same time,
stressing what an
5 “Actibus coniugum” is variously translated as
“conjugal acts” (DSP, IP, CTS3)
“intimate married life” (CTS1 and CTS2). Conceivably “conjugal acts”
refer to other activity in married life other than sexual intercourse,
but it does not
to be too presumptuous to assume that such is its meaning here.
6 The Italian here refers to a need for a
“revisione” of the norm. Both DSP and IP
“recognoscere” as “revise” which, although a cognate of the Italian,
perhaps in English suggests a greater change than the text intends to
uses “review” which I believe is closer to the Latin. “Revise” is
many wanted the Church to do; “review” or “reconsider” is what
in fact the Church
7 The translation for “incommoda” as
“sacrifices” has been adopted from DSP and
which are following the Italian “sacrifici”. The Latin “incommoda” has
connotation more of “inconvenience” than of “sacrifice”;
perhaps be a more precise translation. A
literal English translation would read:
difficulties which are sometimes a worthy [challenge] for the strongest
men and women [fortissimis viris digna].” But, since it does not work
in English to
“heroic difficulties”, I have stayed with the more idiomatic “heroic
The question of the morality of asking spouses to make heroic sacrifices
the concern of the Majority Report.
8 1a Pius IX, encyclical Qui Pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846 in
PII IX P. M. Acta, I, 9-10.
1b St. Pius X, encyclical Singulari Quadam, Sept. 24,
1912 in AAS 4 (1912) 658.
1c Pius XI, encyclical Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930
in AAS 22 (1930), 579-581.
1d Pius XII, “Address to the Episcopate of the
Catholic World,” Nov. 2, 1954 in
AAS 46 (1954)
1e John XIII, encyclical, Mater et Magistra, May 15,
1961 in AAS 53 (1961), 457.
9 Cf. Matt. 28: 18-19.
10 CTS translates “obtemperatio” as
“observance”; DSP uses “fulfillment”; I have
“compliance” since I believe that “observance” seems somewhat weak
“Obedience” would not be wrong, but since modern Americans, at
least, seem to think all obedience is servile, I have selected
seems to capture both the sense of necessary adherence along with the
11 Cf. Matt. 7:21.
12 There is quite a variation on the translation of the
DSP reads “has provided a coherent teaching on . . .”; IP reads “has
provided an integrated teaching on . . .” and CTS1 and 2 “has always
teaching” and CTS3 reads “has always issued appropriate documents.”
13 4a Catechismus Romanus Concilii Tridentini, part II,
4b Leo XIII, encyclical, Arcanum, Feb. 19, 18880 in
Acta Leonis XIII, II (1881)
4c Pius XI, encyclical Divini Illius Magistri Dec.
32, 1929, in AAS XXII (1930),
4d Pius XI, encyclical Casti Connubii in AAS 22
4e Pius XII, “Address to the Italian
Medico-Biological Union of St. Luke,” Nov. 12,
1944 in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi VI, 191-192.
4f Pius XII, “Address to the Italian Catholic Union
of Midwives,” Oct. 29, 1951 in
43 (1951) 857-59.
4g Pius XII, “Address to the Congress of the Family
Front and of the Association
Large Families,” Nov. 28, 1951; AAS 43 (1951) 857-59.
4h Pius XII, “Address to the Seventh Congress of
the International Society of
Sept. 12, 1958 in AAS 50 (1958) 734-735.
4i John XIII, encyclical Mater et Magistra in AAS 53
4j Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, Dec. 7,
1965, nos. 47-52 in AAs 58
4k Code of Canon Law 1917, Canons 1067, 1068.1,
14 All the translations use “birth regulation” or
“regulation of births” which is true to
the Italian. The
Latin “Rectem progignendae prolis temperationem” which strictly
translated reads “the correct regulation of having offspring” may be
regulation.” Neither “birth regulation” nor “birth control” are
“contraception”, since they both refer to any methods which spouses
might use to
the number of children that they are to have and therefore could include
natural methods. Yet, this phrase “birth regulation” may be the
cause of some
since in English it is too easily equated with birth control, which, in turn,
is too easily identified with contraception. “Contraception,” refers
to devices or
which actively work against conception and, therefore, does not include
natural methods of family planning.
15 5a Paul VI, “Address to the Sacred College of
Cardinals, June 23, 1964 in AAS
56 (1964) 588.
5b Paul VI, “Address to the Commission for the
Study of Population, the Family
Birth Regulation,” March 27, 1965 in AAS 57 (1965) 388.
5c Paul VI, “Address to the National Congress of
the Italian Society of Obstetrics
Gynecology,” October 29, 1966 in AAS 58 (1966) 1168.
16 The translation of the first clause of this section
is problematic. The Latin
“De propaganda prole questio”. The Italian reads: “Il problema della
is translated variously; DSP has “The problem of birth”; IP has “the
problem of birth regulation” and CTS1 and 2 has “The question of the
and CTS3 has “The question of human procreation.” I have chosen “The
question of having children” since I think the question being
addressed here is
than the question of limiting how many children one has; it touches upon, for
instance, why one should have children and the responsibilities of
17 This phrase differs considerably in the Latin and
the Italian. The Latin phrase
vias . . . quibus liberorum numerus coerceatur corresponds to the
Italian phrase “i metodi artificiali di controllo delle nascite; the
usual translation is:
methods of birth control.” But the Latin is more concrete in speaking of
the “artificial ways by which the number of children is limited.” I
that it is children who are being “limited” rather than the more
abstract “birth” which is being controlled, is important.
18 Cf. 1 John 4:8.
19 Eph. 3:15.
20 The phrase cum Deo operam socient is a bit peculiar.
The Italian text speaks
of the spouses
being collaborators with God, as do several of the translations;
others note that spouses “cooperate” with God. Again, I thought it
that “operam” is not the word for “work” but is the word for
“Socient” means that there is a sharing of the service. This notion,
again, is at the
of the word “munus” (mission) which refers to a task which God entrusts to
others and needs them to do, and will help them to achieve.
21 The final sentence presents difficulties to the
modern translator who works in
atmosphere where all masculine pronouns are taken to refer to the male. This
is especially awkward when speaking of marriage which clearly involves
reciprocal responsibilities of both sexes. The
Latin easily includes the obligations
of both sexes to
each other, whereas it is impossible to convey this in modern
22 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 50 in AAS
58 (1966) 1070-72.
23 The phrase “munerum ad eos [biologicos processus]
attinentium] is difficult to
“Munerum” is translated by DSP and IP and all the CTS versions have
“functions” here which seem to reflect the Italian “funzioni”.
the Italian) renders its “obligations associated with these [biological
processes].” See also Humanae Vitae 17 for two other instances of
“munus” being used in reference to
24 Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, a. 2.
25 It is difficult to determine a literal reading of
“intimam rationem” (it is used again
in HV 12);
perhaps “most profound justification” would serve); “ratio” has many
legtimate translations. Following the Italian “un piu profondo
rapporto” DSP and IP
“a more profound relationship”. CTS1 and 2 have “a further and deeper
significance of paramount importance” and CTS 3 has”one further
of paramount importance.” Durand has “is chiefly characterized by another
and intimate quality.”
26 This last phrase is translated a bit loosely. The
Latin is “rerum bonorumque
recte servato” which literally means, “with the order of affairs and goods
having been kept rightly.” DSP and IP, following the Italian “in una
valori”, has “in a correct hierarchy of values.” All CTS versions have
a right order of priorities” and Durand has “all in due order.”
27 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 50-51
in AAS 58 (1966)
28 Cf. Ibid., no. 49 in AAS 58 (1966( 1070).
29 12a Cf. Pius XI, encyclical Casti Connubii in AAS 22
12b Pius XII “Address to the Congress of the
Italian Catholic Association of
in AAS 43 (1951) 843.
30 There is little doubt that the last sentence of this
section has caused
the most difficulty. See Chapter Three, p.
* for a discussion of this
sentence. The DSP translation reads: “[the Church] teaches that each
act must remain open to the transmission of life.” The IP translation is
identical to the DSP translation. CTS1 reads: “[the Church] teaches as
that any use whatever of marriage must retain its natural potential to
procreate human life.” CTS2 reads: “[the Church] teaches as
in any use whatever of marriage there must be no impairment of its natural
capacity to procreate human life.” CTS3 reads “[the Church] teaches
every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the
procreation of human life.” And the Durand translation reads: “[the
the following necessary principle: every single act of marriage must retain
all of its natural potential to generate human life.”
31 In paragraph two of this section “intimam rationem”
remains problematic. DSP
IP, following the Italian “intima struttura”, have “intimate structure.”
2 have “fundamental structure” and CTS3 has
“fundamental nature.” Durand has
32 John XXIII, Mater et Magistra in AAS 53 (1961) 447.
33 The Latin here reads “primariis hisce principiis”
or “first principles.” The Italian
questi capisaldi” or “with this foundation stone.” The English
translations are disparate; DSP reads “landmarks”, CTS2 uses
IP uses “fundamental elements.” “First principles” should be the
translation since it captures the technical philosophical sense of “principiis”.
inquiry must proceed from first principles; without agreement on these
progress can be made in reasoning about the matters which the
34 14a Cf. Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent,
Part II, ch. 8.
14b Pius XI, encyclical Casti Connubii in AAS 22
14c Pius XII, “Address to the Italian
Medico-Biological Union of St. Luke,” Nov.
12, 1944 in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi VI, 191-192.
14d Pius XII, “Address to the Italian Catholic
Union of Midwives,” Oct. 29, 1951 in
43 (1951) 842-43.
14e Pius XII, “Address to the Congress of the
Family Front and of the Association
Large Families,” Nov. 28, 1951; AAS 43 (1951) 857-59.
14f John XXIII, encyclical Pacem in Terris, Apr. 11,
1963 in AAS 55 (1963)
14g Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 50 in
AAS 58 (1966) 1072.
35 15a Pius XI, encyclical Casti Connubii in AAS 22
15b Pius XII, Decree of the Holy Office, Feb. 22,
1940 in AAS 32 (1940) 73.
15c Pius XII, “Address to the Italian Catholic
Union of Midwives,” Oct. 29, 1951 in
43 (1951) 843-44.
15d Pius XII, “Address to the Seventh Congress of
the International Society of
Sept. 12, 1958 in AAS 50 (1958) 734-735.
36 For the phrase translated here as actions that
attempt “to impede procreation,”
the Latin is
“ut procreatio impediatur”; the Italian is “di rendere impossibile la
37 16a Cf. Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent,
Part II, Chapter 8.
38 Cf. Pius XII, “Address to the Fifth National
Congress of Italian Catholic Jurists,
Dec. 6, 1953 in
AAS 45 (1953) 798-99.
39 Cf. Rom. 3:8.
40 19a Cf. Pope Pius XII, “Address to the Congress of
the Italian Association of
Oct. 8, 1953 in AAS 45 (1953) 674-675.
41 This is a short but important paragraph. I decided
to cast the principle here in
positive rather than the negative. It may also be important to note that
translators prefer “licit” and “illicit” which are cognates of the
I have chosen to use “morally permissible” and “morally wrong.”
42 The Italian speaks of “seri motivi” for spacing
children whereas the Latin
of “iustae causae”; the translations which have been given for this are
“serious motives,” “well-grounded reasons,” and “reasonable
grounds.” (See the
on this section for a discussion of these various possible
For the most part the Italian for this passage is much more
translatable than the Latin.
43 Pius XII, “Address to the Italian Catholic Union
of Midwives,” in AAS 43 (1951)
44 There are some interesting discrepancies between the
Italian and the Latin in
paragraph. One choice of Latin seems to be inappropriate; where the Italian
states “the two cases are essentially different” (tra i due casi
differenza essenziale), the Latin reads
“these two causes differ exceedingly” (hae
inter se maxime discrepant). The meaning of “causae (reasons,
motives, purposes, sources) does not seem appropriate here; it seems
is what is needed, and “essentially” seems somewhat more precise than
45 The second portion of this first sentence is
translated variously. The Latin is
secutura sunt vias rationesque, ad natorum incrementa artificio coercenda
adhibitas.” CTS1 and 2 has “the consequences of methods and plans
artificial restriction of increases in the
birth rate” (CTS); the other (IP), based on
the Italian text
(“alle conseguenze dei metodi di regolazione artificiale delle
natalita”) is “consequences of the use of methods of artificial
birth control.” While
may also be intended to be included here, it seems that contraception is
the issue at hand and it would be the most succinct and accurate
46 The translation of this sentence has generally
relied upon the Italian [“allo
generale della moralita”]. Most translations render this “a general
lowering of morality”. The Latin reads “ad morum disciplinam passim
literally means “to a little by little weakening of the discipline of
47 21a Cf. Pope Pius XII, “Address to the Congress of
the Italian Association of
Oct. 8, 1953 in AAS 45 (1953) 674-675.
48 (1956) 46-62.
48 Luke 2:34.
49 Paul VI, encyclical, Populorum Progressio, Mar. 26,
1967, no. 21 in AAS 59
50 Cf. Rom. 8.
51 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Inter Mirifica,
Dec. 4, 1963, nos. 6-7: AAS
56 (1964) 147.
52 John XIII, encyclical, Mater et Magistra, May 15,
1961 in AAS 53 (1961), 447.
53 Paul VI, encyclical, Populorum Progressio, Mar. 26,
1967, no. 21 in AAS 59
54 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 52 in AAS
58 (1966) 1074.
55 Pius XII, “Address to the Congress of the Family
Front and of the Association
Large Families,” Nov. 28, 1951; AAS 43 (1951) 859.
56 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 51 in AAS
58 (1966) 1072.
57 Cf. Matthew 11:30.
58 32a Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 48 in
AAS 58 (1966) 1067-69.
59 Matthew 7:14; cf. Hebrews 12:11.
60 Cf. Titus 2:12.
61 Cf. 1 Cor. 7:31.
62 Romans 5:5.
63 Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, 32-33.
64 38a Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic
Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov.
65 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution
Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21,
1964, no. 25 in AAS 57 (1965) 29-31.
66 1 Corinthians 1:10.
67 Cf. John 3:17.
This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990