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ENCYCLICAL LETTER

HUMANAE VITAE
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF

PAUL VI
TO HIS VENERABLE BROTHERS
THE PATRIARCHS, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS
AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE,
TO THE CLERGY AND FAITHFUL OF THE WHOLE CATHOLIC WORLD,
AND TO ALL MEN OF GOOD WILL,
ON THE REGULATION OF BIRTH

Honored Brothers and Dear Sons,


Health and Apostolic Benediction.
The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married
people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has
always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes
entails many difficulties and hardships.
The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience
of married people, but the recent course of human society and the
concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot
ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected
with the life and happiness of human beings.
I.
PROBLEM AND COMPETENCY
OF THE MAGISTERIUM
2. The changes that have taken place are of considerable importance and
varied in nature. In the first place there is the rapid increase in population
which has made many fear that world population is going to grow faster
than available resources, with the consequence that many families and
developing countries would be faced with greater hardships. This can
easily induce public authorities to be tempted to take even harsher
measures to avert this danger. There is also the fact that not only working
and housing conditions but the greater demands made both in the
economic and educational field pose a living situation in which it is
frequently difficult these days to provide properly for a large family.
Also noteworthy is a new understanding of the dignity of woman and her
place in society, of the value of conjugal love in marriage and the
relationship of conjugal acts to this love.
But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man's
stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the
forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control
over every aspect of his own lifeover his body, over his mind and

emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the
transmission of life.
New Questions
3. This new state of things gives rise to new questions. Granted the
conditions of life today and taking into account the relevance of married
love to the harmony and mutual fidelity of husband and wife, would it not
be right to review the moral norms in force till now, especially when it is
felt that these can be observed only with the gravest difficulty, sometimes
only by heroic effort?
Moreover, if one were to apply here the so called principle of totality, could
it not be accepted that the intention to have a less prolific but more
rationally planned family might transform an action which renders natural
processes infertile into a licit and provident control of birth? Could it not be
admitted, in other words, that procreative finality applies to the totality of
married life rather than to each single act? A further question is whether,
because people are more conscious today of their responsibilities, the time
has not come when the transmission of life should be regulated by their
intelligence and will rather than through the specific rhythms of their own
bodies.
InterpretingtheMoralLaw
4.ThiskindofquestionrequiresfromtheteachingauthorityoftheChurchanewanddeeper
reflectionontheprinciplesofthemoralteachingonmarriageateachingwhichisbasedon
thenaturallawasilluminatedandenrichedbydivineRevelation.
NomemberofthefaithfulcouldpossiblydenythattheChurchiscompetentinher
magisteriumtointerpretthenaturalmorallaw.Itisinfactindisputable,asOurpredecessors
havemanytimesdeclared,(l)thatJesusChrist,whenHecommunicatedHisdivinepowerto
PeterandtheotherApostlesandsentthemtoteachallnationsHiscommandments,(2)
constitutedthemastheauthenticguardiansandinterpretersofthewholemorallaw,notonly,
thatis,ofthelawoftheGospelbutalsoofthenaturallaw.Forthenaturallaw,too,declares
thewillofGod,anditsfaithfulobservanceisnecessaryformen'seternalsalvation.(3)
Incarryingoutthismandate,theChurchhasalwaysissuedappropriatedocumentsonthe
natureofmarriage,thecorrectuseofconjugalrights,andthedutiesofspouses.These
documentshavebeenmorecopiousinrecenttimes.(4)
SpecialStudies
5.TheconsciousnessofthesameresponsibilityinducedUstoconfirmandexpandthe
commissionsetupbyOurpredecessorPopeJohnXXIII,ofhappymemory,inMarch,1963.
Thiscommissionincludedmarriedcouplesaswellasmanyexpertsinthevariousfields
pertinenttothesequestions.Itstaskwastoexamineviewsandopinionsconcerningmarried
life,andespeciallyonthecorrectregulationofbirths;anditwasalsotoprovidetheteaching
authorityoftheChurchwithsuchevidenceaswouldenableittogiveanaptreplyinthis
matter,whichnotonlythefaithfulbutalsotherestoftheworldwerewaitingfor.(5)

Whentheevidenceoftheexpertshadbeenreceived,aswellastheopinionsandadviceofa
considerablenumberofOurbrethrenintheepiscopatesomeofwhomsenttheirviews
spontaneously,whileotherswererequestedbyUstodosoWewereinapositiontoweigh
withmoreprecisionalltheaspectsofthiscomplexsubject.HenceWearedeeplygratefulto
allthoseconcerned.
TheMagisterium'sReply
6.However,theconclusionsarrivedatbythecommissioncouldnotbeconsideredbyUsas
definitiveandabsolutelycertain,dispensingUsfromthedutyofexaminingpersonallythis
seriousquestion.Thiswasallthemorenecessarybecause,withinthecommissionitself,there
wasnotcompleteagreementconcerningthemoralnormstobeproposed,andespecially
becausecertainapproachesandcriteriaforasolutiontothisquestionhademergedwhich
wereatvariancewiththemoraldoctrineonmarriageconstantlytaughtbythemagisteriumof
theChurch.
Consequently,nowthatWehavesiftedcarefullytheevidencesenttoUsandintentlystudied
thewholematter,aswellasprayedconstantlytoGod,We,byvirtueofthemandateentrusted
toUsbyChrist,intendtogiveOurreplytothisseriesofgravequestions.
II.
DOCTRINALPRINCIPLES
7.Thequestionofhumanprocreation,likeeveryotherquestionwhichtoucheshumanlife,
involvesmorethanthelimitedaspectsspecifictosuchdisciplinesasbiology,psychology,
demographyorsociology.Itisthewholemanandthewholemissiontowhichheiscalled
thatmustbeconsidered:bothitsnatural,earthlyaspectsanditssupernatural,eternalaspects.
Andsinceintheattempttojustifyartificialmethodsofbirthcontrolmanyappealtothe
demandsofmarriedloveorofresponsibleparenthood,thesetwoimportantrealitiesof
marriedlifemustbeaccuratelydefinedandanalyzed.ThisiswhatWemeantodo,with
specialreferencetowhattheSecondVaticanCounciltaughtwiththehighestauthorityinits
PastoralConstitutionontheChurchintheWorldofToday.
God'sLovingDesign
8.Marriedloveparticularlyrevealsitstruenatureandnobilitywhenwerealizethatittakesits
originfromGod,who"islove,"(6)theFather"fromwhomeveryfamilyinheavenandon
earthisnamed."(7)
Marriage,then,isfarfrombeingtheeffectofchanceortheresultoftheblindevolutionof
naturalforces.ItisinrealitythewiseandprovidentinstitutionofGodtheCreator,whose
purposewastoeffectinmanHislovingdesign.Asaconsequence,husbandandwife,through
thatmutualgiftofthemselves,whichisspecificandexclusivetothemalone,developthat
unionoftwopersonsinwhichtheyperfectoneanother,cooperatingwithGodinthe
generationandrearingofnewlives.
Themarriageofthosewhohavebeenbaptizedis,inaddition,investedwiththedignityofa
sacramentalsignofgrace,foritrepresentstheunionofChristandHisChurch.
MarriedLove

9.Inthelightofthesefactsthecharacteristicfeaturesandexigenciesofmarriedloveare
clearlyindicated,anditisofthehighestimportancetoevaluatethemexactly.
Thisloveisaboveallfullyhuman,acompoundofsenseandspirit.Itisnot,then,merelya
questionofnaturalinstinctoremotionaldrive.Itisalso,andaboveall,anactofthefreewill,
whosetrustissuchthatitismeantnotonlytosurvivethejoysandsorrowsofdailylife,but
alsotogrow,sothathusbandandwifebecomeinawayoneheartandonesoul,andtogether
attaintheirhumanfulfillment.
Itisalovewhichistotalthatveryspecialformofpersonalfriendshipinwhichhusbandand
wifegenerouslyshareeverything,allowingnounreasonableexceptionsandnotthinking
solelyoftheirownconvenience.Whoeverreallyloveshispartnerlovesnotonlyforwhathe
receives,butlovesthatpartnerforthepartner'sownsake,contenttobeabletoenrichthe
otherwiththegiftofhimself.
Marriedloveisalsofaithfulandexclusiveofallother,andthisuntildeath.Thisishow
husbandandwifeunderstooditonthedayonwhich,fullyawareofwhattheyweredoing,
theyfreelyvowedthemselvestooneanotherinmarriage.Thoughthisfidelityofhusbandand
wifesometimespresentsdifficulties,noonehastherighttoassertthatitisimpossible;itis,
onthecontrary,alwayshonorableandmeritorious.Theexampleofcountlessmarriedcouples
provesnotonlythatfidelityisinaccordwiththenatureofmarriage,butalsothatitisthe
sourceofprofoundandenduringhappiness.
Finally,thisloveisfecund.Itisnotconfinedwhollytothelovinginterchangeofhusbandand
wife;italsocontrivestogobeyondthistobringnewlifeintobeing."Marriageandconjugal
lovearebytheirnatureordainedtowardtheprocreationandeducationofchildren.Children
arereallythesupremegiftofmarriageandcontributeinthehighestdegreetotheirparents'
welfare."(8)
ResponsibleParenthood
10.Marriedlove,therefore,requiresofhusbandandwifethefullawarenessoftheir
obligationsinthematterofresponsibleparenthood,whichtoday,rightlyenough,ismuch
insistedupon,butwhichatthesametimeshouldberightlyunderstood.Thus,wedowellto
considerresponsibleparenthoodinthelightofitsvariedlegitimateandinterrelatedaspects.
Withregardtothebiologicalprocesses,responsibleparenthoodmeansanawarenessof,and
respectfor,theirproperfunctions.Intheprocreativefacultythehumanminddiscerns
biologicallawsthatapplytothehumanperson.(9)
Withregardtoman'sinnatedrivesandemotions,responsibleparenthoodmeansthatman's
reasonandwillmustexertcontroloverthem.
Withregardtophysical,economic,psychologicalandsocialconditions,responsible
parenthoodisexercisedbythosewhoprudentlyandgenerouslydecidetohavemorechildren,
andbythosewho,forseriousreasonsandwithduerespecttomoralprecepts,decidenotto
haveadditionalchildrenforeitheracertainoranindefiniteperiodoftime.
Responsibleparenthood,asweusethetermhere,hasonefurtheressentialaspectof
paramountimportance.ItconcernstheobjectivemoralorderwhichwasestablishedbyGod,
andofwhicharightconscienceisthetrueinterpreter.Inaword,theexerciseofresponsible

parenthoodrequiresthathusbandandwife,keepingarightorderofpriorities,recognizetheir
owndutiestowardGod,themselves,theirfamiliesandhumansociety.
Fromthisitfollowsthattheyarenotfreetoactastheychooseintheserviceoftransmitting
life,asifitwerewhollyuptothemtodecidewhatistherightcoursetofollow.Onthe
contrary,theyareboundtoensurethatwhattheydocorrespondstothewillofGodthe
Creator.TheverynatureofmarriageanditsusemakesHiswillclear,whiletheconstant
teachingoftheChurchspellsitout.(10)
ObservingtheNaturalLaw
11.Thesexualactivity,inwhichhusbandandwifeareintimatelyandchastelyunitedwith
oneanother,throughwhichhumanlifeistransmitted,is,astherecentCouncilrecalled,
"nobleandworthy.''(11)Itdoesnot,moreover,ceasetobelegitimateevenwhen,forreasons
independentoftheirwill,itisforeseentobeinfertile.Foritsnaturaladaptationtothe
expressionandstrengtheningoftheunionofhusbandandwifeisnottherebysuppressed.The
factis,asexperienceshows,thatnewlifeisnottheresultofeachandeveryactofsexual
intercourse.Godhaswiselyorderedlawsofnatureandtheincidenceoffertilityinsuchaway
thatsuccessivebirthsarealreadynaturallyspacedthroughtheinherentoperationofthese
laws.TheChurch,nevertheless,inurgingmentotheobservanceofthepreceptsofthenatural
law,whichitinterpretsbyitsconstantdoctrine,teachesthateachandeverymaritalactmust
ofnecessityretainitsintrinsicrelationshiptotheprocreationofhumanlife.(12)
UnionandProcreation
12.Thisparticulardoctrine,oftenexpoundedbythemagisteriumoftheChurch,isbasedon
theinseparableconnection,establishedbyGod,whichmanonhisowninitiativemaynot
break,betweentheunitivesignificanceandtheprocreativesignificancewhichareboth
inherenttothemarriageact.
Thereasonisthatthefundamentalnatureofthemarriageact,whileunitinghusbandandwife
intheclosestintimacy,alsorendersthemcapableofgeneratingnewlifeandthisasaresult
oflawswrittenintotheactualnatureofmanandofwoman.Andifeachoftheseessential
qualities,theunitiveandtheprocreative,ispreserved,theuseofmarriagefullyretainsits
senseoftruemutualloveanditsordinationtothesupremeresponsibilityofparenthoodto
whichmaniscalled.Webelievethatourcontemporariesareparticularlycapableofseeing
thatthisteachingisinharmonywithhumanreason.
FaithfulnesstoGod'sDesign
13.Menrightlyobservethataconjugalactimposedonone'spartnerwithoutregardtohisor
herconditionorpersonalandreasonablewishesinthematter,isnotrueactoflove,and
thereforeoffendsthemoralorderinitsparticularapplicationtotheintimaterelationshipof
husbandandwife.Iftheyfurtherreflect,theymustalsorecognizethatanactofmutuallove
whichimpairsthecapacitytotransmitlifewhichGodtheCreator,throughspecificlaws,has
builtintoit,frustratesHisdesignwhichconstitutesthenormofmarriage,andcontradictsthe
willoftheAuthoroflife.Hencetousethisdivinegiftwhiledeprivingit,evenifonly
partially,ofitsmeaningandpurpose,isequallyrepugnanttothenatureofmanandof
woman,andisconsequentlyinoppositiontotheplanofGodandHisholywill.Butto
experiencethegiftofmarriedlovewhilerespectingthelawsofconceptionistoacknowledge
thatoneisnotthemasterofthesourcesoflifebutrathertheministerofthedesignestablished

bytheCreator.Justasmandoesnothaveunlimiteddominionoverhisbodyingeneral,so
also,andwithmoreparticularreason,hehasnosuchdominionoverhisspecificallysexual
faculties,fortheseareconcernedbytheirverynaturewiththegenerationoflife,ofwhich
Godisthesource."Humanlifeissacredallmenmustrecognizethatfact,"Ourpredecessor
PopeJohnXXIIIrecalled."FromitsveryinceptionitrevealsthecreatinghandofGod."(13)
UnlawfulBirthControlMethods
14.ThereforeWebaseOurwordsonthefirstprinciplesofahumanandChristiandoctrineof
marriagewhenWeareobligedoncemoretodeclarethatthedirectinterruptionofthe
generativeprocessalreadybegunand,aboveall,alldirectabortion,evenfortherapeutic
reasons,aretobeabsolutelyexcludedaslawfulmeansofregulatingthenumberofchildren.
(14)Equallytobecondemned,asthemagisteriumoftheChurchhasaffirmedonmany
occasions,isdirectsterilization,whetherofthemanorofthewoman,whetherpermanentor
temporary.(15)
Similarlyexcludedisanyactionwhicheitherbefore,atthemomentof,oraftersexual
intercourse,isspecificallyintendedtopreventprocreationwhetherasanendorasameans.
(16)
Neitherisitvalidtoargue,asajustificationforsexualintercoursewhichisdeliberately
contraceptive,thatalesserevilistobepreferredtoagreaterone,orthatsuchintercourse
wouldmergewithprocreativeactsofpastandfuturetoformasingleentity,andsobe
qualifiedbyexactlythesamemoralgoodnessasthese.Thoughitistruethatsometimesitis
lawfultotoleratealessermoralevilinordertoavoidagreaterevilorinordertopromotea
greatergood,"itisneverlawful,evenforthegravestreasons,todoevilthatgoodmaycome
ofit(18)inotherwords,tointenddirectlysomethingwhichofitsverynaturecontradicts
themoralorder,andwhichmustthereforebejudgedunworthyofman,eventhoughthe
intentionistoprotectorpromotethewelfareofanindividual,ofafamilyorofsocietyin
general.Consequently,itisaseriouserrortothinkthatawholemarriedlifeofotherwise
normalrelationscanjustifysexualintercoursewhichisdeliberatelycontraceptiveandso
intrinsicallywrong.
LawfulTherapeuticMeans
15.Ontheotherhand,theChurchdoesnotconsideratallillicittheuseofthosetherapeutic
meansnecessarytocurebodilydiseases,evenifaforeseeableimpedimenttoprocreation
shouldresulttherefromprovidedsuchimpedimentisnotdirectlyintendedforanymotive
whatsoever.(19)
RecoursetoInfertilePeriods
16.NowasWenotedearlier(no.3),somepeopletodayraisetheobjectionagainstthis
particulardoctrineoftheChurchconcerningthemorallawsgoverningmarriage,thathuman
intelligencehasboththerightandresponsibilitytocontrolthoseforcesofirrationalnature
whichcomewithinitsambitandtodirectthemtowardendsbeneficialtoman.Othersaskon
thesamepointwhetheritisnotreasonableinsomanycasestouseartificialbirthcontrolifby
sodoingtheharmonyandpeaceofafamilyarebetterservedandmoresuitableconditionsare
providedfortheeducationofchildrenalreadyborn.TothisquestionWemustgiveaclear
reply.TheChurchisthefirsttopraiseandcommendtheapplicationofhumanintelligenceto
anactivityinwhicharationalcreaturesuchasmanissocloselyassociatedwithhisCreator.

Butsheaffirmsthatthismustbedonewithinthelimitsoftheorderofrealityestablishedby
God.
Ifthereforetherearewellgroundedreasonsforspacingbirths,arisingfromthephysicalor
psychologicalconditionofhusbandorwife,orfromexternalcircumstances,theChurch
teachesthatmarriedpeoplemaythentakeadvantageofthenaturalcyclesimmanentinthe
reproductivesystemandengageinmaritalintercourseonlyduringthosetimesthatare
infertile,thuscontrollingbirthinawaywhichdoesnotintheleastoffendthemoralprinciples
whichWehavejustexplained.(20)
NeithertheChurchnorherdoctrineisinconsistentwhensheconsidersitlawfulformarried
peopletotakeadvantageoftheinfertileperiodbutcondemnsasalwaysunlawfultheuseof
meanswhichdirectlypreventconception,evenwhenthereasonsgivenforthelaterpractice
mayappeartobeuprightandserious.Inreality,thesetwocasesarecompletelydifferent.In
theformerthemarriedcouplerightlyuseafacultyprovidedthembynature.Inthelaterthey
obstructthenaturaldevelopmentofthegenerativeprocess.Itcannotbedeniedthatineach
casethemarriedcouple,foracceptablereasons,arebothperfectlyclearintheirintentionto
avoidchildrenandwishtomakesurethatnonewillresult.Butitisequallytruethatitis
exclusivelyintheformercasethathusbandandwifearereadytoabstainfromintercourse
duringthefertileperiodasoftenasforreasonablemotivesthebirthofanotherchildisnot
desirable.Andwhentheinfertileperiodrecurs,theyusetheirmarriedintimacytoexpress
theirmutualloveandsafeguardtheirfidelitytowardoneanother.Indoingthistheycertainly
giveproofofatrueandauthenticlove.
ConsequencesofArtificialMethods
17.Responsiblemencanbecomemoredeeplyconvincedofthetruthofthedoctrinelaid
downbytheChurchonthisissueiftheyreflectontheconsequencesofmethodsandplansfor
artificialbirthcontrol.Letthemfirstconsiderhoweasilythiscourseofactioncouldopen
widethewayformaritalinfidelityandageneralloweringofmoralstandards.Notmuch
experienceisneededtobefullyawareofhumanweaknessandtounderstandthathuman
beingsandespeciallytheyoung,whoaresoexposedtotemptationneedincentivesto
keepthemorallaw,anditisanevilthingtomakeiteasyforthemtobreakthatlaw.Another
effectthatgivescauseforalarmisthatamanwhogrowsaccustomedtotheuseof
contraceptivemethodsmayforgetthereverenceduetoawoman,and,disregardingher
physicalandemotionalequilibrium,reducehertobeingamereinstrumentforthesatisfaction
ofhisowndesires,nolongerconsideringherashispartnerwhomheshouldsurroundwith
careandaffection.
Finally,carefulconsiderationshouldbegiventothedangerofthispowerpassingintothe
handsofthosepublicauthoritieswhocarelittleforthepreceptsofthemorallaw.Whowill
blameagovernmentwhichinitsattempttoresolvetheproblemsaffectinganentirecountry
resortstothesamemeasuresasareregardedaslawfulbymarriedpeopleinthesolutionofa
particularfamilydifficulty?Whowillpreventpublicauthoritiesfromfavoringthose
contraceptivemethodswhichtheyconsidermoreeffective?Shouldtheyregardthisas
necessary,theymayevenimposetheiruseoneveryone.Itcouldwellhappen,therefore,that
whenpeople,eitherindividuallyorinfamilyorsociallife,experiencetheinherentdifficulties
ofthedivinelawandaredeterminedtoavoidthem,theymaygiveintothehandsofpublic
authoritiesthepowertointerveneinthemostpersonalandintimateresponsibilityofhusband
andwife.
LimitstoMan'sPower

Consequently,unlesswearewillingthattheresponsibilityofprocreatinglifeshouldbeleftto
thearbitrarydecisionofmen,wemustacceptthattherearecertainlimits,beyondwhichitis
wrongtogo,tothepowerofmanoverhisownbodyanditsnaturalfunctionslimits,letitbe
said,whichnoone,whetherasaprivateindividualorasapublicauthority,canlawfully
exceed.Theselimitsareexpresslyimposedbecauseofthereverenceduetothewholehuman
organismanditsnaturalfunctions,inthelightoftheprinciplesWestatedearlier,andin
accordancewithacorrectunderstandingofthe"principleoftotality"enunciatedbyOur
predecessorPopePiusXII.(21)
ConcernoftheChurch
18.Itistobeanticipatedthatperhapsnoteveryonewilleasilyacceptthisparticularteaching.
ThereistoomuchclamorousoutcryagainstthevoiceoftheChurch,andthisisintensifiedby
modernmeansofcommunication.ButitcomesasnosurprisetotheChurchthatshe,noless
thanherdivineFounder,isdestinedtobea"signofcontradiction."(22)Shedoesnot,
becauseofthis,evadethedutyimposedonherofproclaiminghumblybutfirmlytheentire
morallaw,bothnaturalandevangelical.
SincetheChurchdidnotmakeeitheroftheselaws,shecannotbetheirarbiteronlytheir
guardianandinterpreter.Itcouldneverberightforhertodeclarelawfulwhatisinfact
unlawful,sincethat,byitsverynature,isalwaysopposedtothetruegoodofman.
Inpreservingintactthewholemorallawofmarriage,theChurchisconvincedthatsheis
contributingtothecreationofatrulyhumancivilization.Sheurgesmannottobetrayhis
personalresponsibilitiesbyputtingallhisfaithintechnicalexpedients.Inthiswayshe
defendsthedignityofhusbandandwife.ThiscourseofactionshowsthattheChurch,loyalto
theexampleandteachingofthedivineSavior,issincereandunselfishinherregardformen
whomshestrivestohelpevennowduringthisearthlypilgrimage"toshareGod'slifeassons
ofthelivingGod,theFatherofallmen."(23)
III.
PASTORALDIRECTIVES
19.Ourwordswouldnotbeanadequateexpressionofthethoughtandsolicitudeofthe
Church,MotherandTeacherofallpeoples,if,afterhavingrecalledmentotheobservance
andrespectofthedivinelawregardingmatrimony,theydidnotalsosupportmankindinthe
honestregulationofbirthamidthedifficultconditionswhichtodayafflictfamiliesand
peoples.TheChurch,infact,cannotactdifferentlytowardmenthandidtheRedeemer.She
knowstheirweaknesses,shehascompassiononthemultitude,shewelcomessinners.Butat
thesametimeshecannotdootherwisethanteachthelaw.Foritisinfactthelawofhuman
liferestoredtoitsnativetruthandguidedbytheSpiritofGod.(24)ObservingtheDivine
Law.
20.TheteachingoftheChurchregardingtheproperregulationofbirthisapromulgationof
thelawofGodHimself.Andyetthereisnodoubtthattomanyitwillappearnotmerely
difficultbutevenimpossibletoobserve.Nowitistruethatlikeallgoodthingswhichare
outstandingfortheirnobilityandforthebenefitswhichtheyconferonmen,sothislaw
demandsfromindividualmenandwomen,fromfamiliesandfromhumansociety,aresolute
purposeandgreatendurance.IndeeditcannotbeobservedunlessGodcomestotheirhelp
withthegracebywhichthegoodwillofmenissustainedandstrengthened.Buttothosewho

considerthismatterdiligentlyitwillindeedbeevidentthatthisenduranceenhancesman's
dignityandconfersbenefitsonhumansociety.
ValueofSelfDiscipline
21.Therightandlawfulorderingofbirthdemands,firstofall,thatspousesfullyrecognize
andvaluethetrueblessingsoffamilylifeandthattheyacquirecompletemasteryover
themselvesandtheiremotions.Forifwiththeaidofreasonandoffreewilltheyaretocontrol
theirnaturaldrives,therecanbenodoubtatalloftheneedforselfdenial.Onlythenwillthe
expressionoflove,essentialtomarriedlife,conformtorightorder.Thisisespeciallyclearin
thepracticeofperiodiccontinence.Selfdisciplineofthiskindisashiningwitnesstothe
chastityofhusbandandwifeand,farfrombeingahindrancetotheirloveofoneanother,
transformsitbygivingitamoretrulyhumancharacter.Andifthisselfdisciplinedoes
demandthattheypersevereintheirpurposeandefforts,ithasatthesametimethesalutary
effectofenablinghusbandandwifetodeveloptotheirpersonalitiesandtobeenrichedwith
spiritualblessings.Foritbringstofamilylifeabundantfruitsoftranquilityandpeace.Ithelps
insolvingdifficultiesofotherkinds.Itfostersinhusbandandwifethoughtfulnessandloving
considerationforoneanother.Ithelpsthemtorepelinordinateselflove,whichisthe
oppositeofcharity.Itarousesinthemaconsciousnessoftheirresponsibilities.Andfinally,it
confersuponparentsadeeperandmoreeffectiveinfluenceintheeducationoftheirchildren.
Astheirchildrengrowup,theydeveloparightsenseofvaluesandachieveasereneand
harmonioususeoftheirmentalandphysicalpowers.
PromotionofChastity
22.Wetakethisopportunitytoaddressthosewhoareengagedineducationandallthose
whoserightanddutyitistoprovideforthecommongoodofhumansociety.Wewouldcall
theirattentiontotheneedtocreateanatmospherefavorabletothegrowthofchastitysothat
truelibertymayprevailoverlicenseandthenormsofthemorallawmaybefully
safeguarded.
Everythingthereforeinthemodernmeansofsocialcommunicationwhicharousesmen's
baserpassionsandencourageslowmoralstandards,aswellaseveryobscenityinthewritten
wordandeveryformofindecencyonthestageandscreen,shouldbecondemnedpublicly
andunanimouslybyallthosewhohaveathearttheadvanceofcivilizationandthe
safeguardingoftheoutstandingvaluesofthehumanspirit.Itisquiteabsurdtodefendthis
kindofdepravityinthenameofartorculture(25)orbypleadingthelibertywhichmaybe
allowedinthisfieldbythepublicauthorities.
AppealtoPublicAuthorities
23.AndnowWewishtospeaktorulersofnations.Toyoumostofalliscommittedthe
responsibilityofsafeguardingthecommongood.Youcancontributesomuchtothe
preservationofmorals.Webegofyou,neverallowthemoralsofyourpeoplestobe
undermined.Thefamilyistheprimaryunitinthestate;donottolerateanylegislationwhich
wouldintroduceintothefamilythosepracticeswhichareopposedtothenaturallawofGod.
Forthereareotherwaysbywhichagovernmentcanandshouldsolvethepopulationproblem
thatistosaybyenactinglawswhichwillassistfamiliesandbyeducatingthepeoplewisely
sothatthemorallawandthefreedomofthecitizensarebothsafeguarded.
SeekingTrueSolutions

Wearefullyawareofthedifficultiesconfrontingthepublicauthoritiesinthismatter,
especiallyinthedevelopingcountries.Infact,Wehadinmindthejustifiableanxietieswhich
weighuponthemwhenWepublishedOurencyclicalletterPopulorumProgressio.Butnow
WejoinOurvoicetothatofOurpredecessorJohnXXIIIofvenerablememory,andWemake
Ourownhiswords:"Nostatementoftheproblemandnosolutiontoitisacceptablewhich
doesviolencetoman'sessentialdignity;thosewhoproposesuchsolutionsbasethemonan
utterlymaterialisticconceptionofmanhimselfandhislife.Theonlypossiblesolutiontothis
questionisonewhichenvisagesthesocialandeconomicprogressbothofindividualsandof
thewholeofhumansociety,andwhichrespectsandpromotestruehumanvalues."(26)No
onecan,withoutbeinggrosslyunfair,makedivineProvidenceresponsibleforwhatclearly
seemstobetheresultofmisguidedgovernmentalpolicies,ofaninsufficientsenseofsocial
justice,ofaselfishaccumulationofmaterialgoods,andfinallyofaculpablefailureto
undertakethoseinitiativesandresponsibilitieswhichwouldraisethestandardoflivingof
peoplesandtheirchildren.(27)Ifonlyallgovernmentswhichwereablewoulddowhatsome
arealreadydoingsonobly,andbestirthemselvestorenewtheireffortsandtheir
undertakings!Theremustbenorelaxationintheprogramsofmutualaidbetweenallthe
branchesofthegreathumanfamily.HereWebelieveanalmostlimitlessfieldliesopenfor
theactivitiesofthegreatinternationalinstitutions.
ToScientists
24.Ournextappealistomenofscience.Thesecan"considerablyadvancethewelfareof
marriageandthefamilyandalsopeaceofconscience,ifbypoolingtheireffortstheystriveto
elucidatemorethoroughlytheconditionsfavorabletoaproperregulationofbirths."(28)Itis
supremelydesirable,andthiswasalsothemindofPiusXII,thatmedicalscienceshouldby
thestudyofnaturalrhythmssucceedindeterminingasufficientlysecurebasisforthechaste
limitationofoffspring.(29)Inthiswayscientists,especiallythosewhoareCatholics,willby
theirresearchestablishthetruthoftheChurch'sclaimthat"therecanbenocontradiction
betweentwodivinelawsthatwhichgovernsthetransmittingoflifeandthatwhichgoverns
thefosteringofmarriedlove."(30)
ToChristianCouples
25.AndnowWeturninaspecialwaytoOurownsonsanddaughters,tothosemostofall
whomGodcallstoserveHiminthestateofmarriage.WhiletheChurchdoesindeedhandon
toherchildrentheinviolableconditionslaiddownbyGod'slaw,sheisalsotheheraldof
salvationandthroughthesacramentssheflingswideopenthechannelsofgracethrough
whichmanismadeanewcreaturerespondingincharityandtruefreedomtothedesignofhis
CreatorandSavior,experiencingtoothesweetnessoftheyokeofChrist.(31)
Inhumbleobediencethentohervoice,letChristianhusbandsandwivesbemindfuloftheir
vocationtotheChristianlife,avocationwhich,derivingfromtheirBaptism,hasbeen
confirmedanewandmademoreexplicitbytheSacramentofMatrimony.Forbythis
sacramenttheyarestrengthenedand,onemightalmostsay,consecratedtothefaithful
fulfillmentoftheirduties.Thuswilltheyrealizetothefulltheircallingandbearwitnessas
becomesthem,toChristbeforetheworld.(32)FortheLordhasentrustedtothemthetaskof
makingvisibletomenandwomentheholinessandjoyofthelawwhichunitedinseparably
theirloveforoneanotherandthecooperationtheygivetoGod'slove,GodwhoistheAuthor
ofhumanlife.
Wehavenowishatalltopassoverinsilencethedifficulties,attimesverygreat,whichbeset
thelivesofChristianmarriedcouples.Forthem,asindeedforeveryoneofus,"thegateis

narrowandthewayishard,thatleadstolife."(33)Neverthelessitispreciselythehopeof
thatlifewhich,likeabrightlyburningtorch,lightsuptheirjourney,as,stronginspirit,they
strivetolive"sober,uprightandgodlylivesinthisworld,"(34)knowingforsurethat"the
formofthisworldispassingaway."(35)
RecoursetoGod
Forthisreasonhusbandsandwivesshouldtakeuptheburdenappointedtothem,willingly,in
thestrengthoffaithandofthathopewhich"doesnotdisappointus,becauseGod'slovehas
beenpouredintoourheartsthroughtheHolySpiritwhohasbeengiventous~}36Thenlet
themimplorethehelpofGodwithunremittingprayerand,mostofall,letthemdrawgrace
andcharityfromthatunfailingfountwhichistheEucharist.If,however,sinstillexercisesits
holdoverthem,theyarenottoloseheart.Rathermustthey,humbleandpersevering,have
recoursetothemercyofGod,abundantlybestowedintheSacramentofPenance.Inthisway,
forsure,theywillbeabletoreachthatperfectionofmarriedlifewhichtheApostlesetsoutin
thesewords:"Husbands,loveyourwives,asChristlovedtheChurch...Evensohusbands
shouldlovetheirwivesastheirownbodies.Hewholoveshiswifeloveshimself.Fornoman
everhateshisownflesh,butnourishesandcherishesit,asChristdoestheChurch...Thisisa
greatmystery,andImeaninreferencetoChristandtheChurch;however,leteachoneofyou
lovehiswifeashimself,andletthewifeseethatsherespectsherhusband."(37)
FamilyApostolate
26.AmongthefruitsthatripenifthelawofGodberesolutelyobeyed,themostpreciousis
certainlythis,thatmarriedcouplesthemselveswilloftendesiretocommunicatetheirown
experiencetoothers.Thusitcomesaboutthatinthefullnessofthelayvocationwillbe
includedanovelandoutstandingformoftheapostolatebywhich,likeministeringtolike,
marriedcouplesthemselvesbytheleadershiptheyofferwillbecomeapostlestoothermarried
couples.AndsurelyamongalltheformsoftheChristianapostolateitishardtothinkofone
moreopportuneforthepresenttime.(38)
ToDoctorsandNurses
27.Likewiseweholdinthehighestesteemthosedoctorsandmembersofthenursing
professionwho,intheexerciseoftheircalling,endeavortofulfillthedemandsoftheir
Christianvocationbeforeanymerelyhumaninterest.Letthemthereforecontinueconstantin
theirresolutionalwaystosupportthoselinesofactionwhichaccordwithfaithandwithright
reason.Andletthemstrivetowinagreementandsupportforthesepoliciesamongtheir
professionalcolleagues.Moreover,theyshouldregarditasanessentialpartoftheirskillto
makethemselvesfullyproficientinthisdifficultfieldofmedicalknowledge.Forthen,when
marriedcouplesaskfortheiradvice,theymaybeinapositiontogivethemrightcounseland
topointthemintheproperdirection.Marriedcoupleshavearighttoexpectthismuchfrom
them.
ToPriests
28.Andnow,belovedsons,youwhoarepriests,youwhoinvirtueofyoursacredofficeact
ascounselorsandspiritualleadersbothofindividualmenandwomenandoffamiliesWe
turntoyoufilledwithgreatconfidence.ForitisyourprincipaldutyWearespeaking
especiallytoyouwhoteachmoraltheologytospelloutclearlyandcompletelytheChurch's
teachingonmarriage.Intheperformanceofyourministryyoumustbethefirsttogivean

exampleofthatsincereobedience,inwardaswellasoutward,whichisduetothe
magisteriumoftheChurch.For,asyouknow,thepastorsoftheChurchenjoyaspeciallight
oftheHolySpiritinteachingthetruth.(39)Andthis,ratherthantheargumentstheyput
forward,iswhyyouareboundtosuchobedience.Norwillitescapeyouthatifmen'speace
ofsoulandtheunityoftheChristianpeoplearetobepreserved,thenitisoftheutmost
importancethatinmoralaswellasindogmatictheologyallshouldobeythemagisteriumof
theChurchandshouldspeakaswithonevoice.ThereforeWemakeOurowntheanxious
wordsofthegreatApostlePaulandwithallOurheartWerenewOurappealtoyou:"Iappeal
toyou,brethren,bythenameofourLordJesusChrist,thatallofyouagreeandthattherebe
nodissensionsamongyou,butthatyoubeunitedinthesamemindandthesamejudgment."
(40)
ChristianCompassion
29.Nowitisanoutstandingmanifestationofcharitytowardsoulstoomitnothingfromthe
savingdoctrineofChrist;butthismustalwaysbejoinedwithtoleranceandcharity,asChrist
HimselfshowedinHisconversationsanddealingswithmen.ForwhenHecame,notto
judge,buttosavetheworld,(41)wasHenotbitterlyseveretowardsin,butpatientand
aboundinginmercytowardsinners?
Husbandsandwives,therefore,whendeeplydistressedbyreasonofthedifficultiesoftheir
life,mustfindstampedintheheartandvoiceoftheirpriestthelikenessofthevoiceandthe
loveofourRedeemer.
Sospeakwithfullconfidence,belovedsons,convincedthatwhiletheHolySpiritofGodis
presenttothemagisteriumproclaimingsounddoctrine,Healsoilluminesfromwithinthe
heartsofthefaithfulandinvitestheirassent.Teachmarriedcouplesthenecessarywayof
prayerandpreparethemtoapproachmoreoftenwithgreatfaiththeSacramentsofthe
EucharistandofPenance.Letthemneverloseheartbecauseoftheirweakness.
ToBishops
30.AndnowasWecometotheendofthisencyclicalletter,WeturnOurmindtoyou,
reverentlyandlovingly,belovedandvenerablebrothersintheepiscopate,withwhomWe
sharemorecloselythecareofthespiritualgoodofthePeopleofGod.ForWeinviteallof
you,Weimploreyou,togivealeadtoyourpriestswhoassistyouinthesacredministry,and
tothefaithfulofyourdioceses,andtodevoteyourselveswithallzealandwithoutdelayto
safeguardingtheholinessofmarriage,inordertoguidemarriedlifetoitsfullhumanand
Christianperfection.Considerthismissionasoneofyourmosturgentresponsibilitiesatthe
presenttime.Asyouwellknow,itcallsforconcertedpastoralactionineveryfieldofhuman
diligence,economic,culturalandsocial.Ifsimultaneousprogressismadeinthesevarious
fields,thentheintimatelifeofparentsandchildreninthefamilywillberenderednotonly
moretolerable,buteasierandmorejoyful.Andlifetogetherinhumansocietywillbe
enrichedwithfraternalcharityandmademorestablewithtruepeacewhenGod'sdesign
whichHeconceivedfortheworldisfaithfullyfollowed.
AGreatWork
31.Venerablebrothers,belovedsons,allmenofgoodwill,greatindeedistheworkof
education,ofprogressandofcharitytowhichWenowsummonallofyou.AndthisWedo
relyingontheunshakableteachingoftheChurch,whichteachingPeter'ssuccessortogether

withhisbrothersintheCatholicepiscopatefaithfullyguardsandinterprets.AndWeare
convincedthatthistrulygreatworkwillbringblessingsbothontheworldandontheChurch.
Formancannotattainthattruehappinessforwhichheyearnswithallthestrengthofhis
spirit,unlesshekeepsthelawswhichtheMostHighGodhasengravedinhisverynature.
Theselawsmustbewiselyandlovinglyobserved.Onthisgreatwork,onallofyouand
especiallyonmarriedcouples,WeimplorefromtheGodofallholinessandpityan
abundanceofheavenlygraceasapledgeofwhichWegladlybestowOurapostolicblessing.
GivenatSt.Peter's,Rome,onthe25thdayofJuly,thefeastofSt.JamestheApostle,inthe
year1968,thesixthofOurpontificate.
PAULVI