Archives

Fiftieth Anniversary on the Papal Encyclical Humanae Vitae

Fiftieth Anniversary on the Papal Encyclical Humanae Vitae

The Heart of Marriage … “Self Gift”

Humanae Vitae (HV) is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI on July 25, 1968 to reaffirm the orthodox teaching of the Catholic Church on married love, responsible parenthood and the continued rejection of unnatural forms of birth control and abortion. It affirmed traditional Church moral teaching on the sanctity of life and the procreative and unitive nature of conjugal relations. Pope Paul VI prophesied in this encyclical about the consequences of dissenting from the Church’s teachings on martial love:

Infidelity and moral decline: He predicted that the widespread use of contraception would “lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.”

Loss of respect for women: Paul VI argued that “the man” will lose respect for “the woman” and “no longer (care) for her physical and psychological equilibrium” and will come to “the point of considering her a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”

Abuse of power: The Holy Father saw that the widespread use of contraception would place a “dangerous weapon…in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies.”

Unlimited dominion: He warned that contraception would lead man to think he had unlimited dominion over his own body.

In summary, Pope Paul VI states that marital relations are much more than a union of two people. They constitute a union of the loving couple with a loving God, in which a new person can be created, and upon which God completes the creation by adding the soul. For this reason, Pope Paul VI says right in the first sentence of HV that the transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. This is a divine partnership that takes its origin from God, who is love.

(From the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis)