NC News Service Translation
by the DAUGHTERS OF ST. PAUL
To the venerable Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops
The following are excerpts from the text; for the complete encyclical click here Vatican - Humanae Vitae
Venerable brothers and beloved sons:
The Transmission of Life
1. The most serious duty of transmitting human life, for which married persons are the free and responsible collaborators of God the Creator, has always been a source of great joys to them, even if sometimes accompanied by not a few difficulties and by distress.
At all times the fulfillment of this duty has posed grave problems to the conscience of married persons, but, with the recent evolution of society, changes have taken place that give rise to new questions which the Church could not ignore, having to do with a matter which so closely touches upon the life and happiness of men
New Formulation of the Problem
Competency of the Magisterium
4. Such questions required from the teaching authority of the Church
a new and deeper reflection upon the principles of the moral teaching
on marriage: a teaching founded on the natural law, illuminated and
enriched by divine revelation.
of the Magisterium
II. DOCTRINAL PRINCIPLES
A Total Vision of Man
7. The problem of birth, like every other problem regarding human life, is to be considered, beyond partial perspectives-whether of the biological or psychological, demographic or sociological orders - in the light of an integral vision of man and of his vocation, not only his natural and earthly, but also his supernatural and eternal vocation. And since, in the attempt to justify artificial methods of birth control, many have appealed to the demands both of conjugal love and of "responsible parenthood," it is good to state very precisely the true concept of these two great realities of married life, referring principally to what was recently set forth in this regard, and in a highly authoritative form, by the Second Vatican Council in its pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).
8. Conjugal love reveals its true nature and nobility when it is considered in its supreme origin, God, who is love,6 "the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."7
Marriage is not, then, the effect of chance or the product of evolution of unconscious natural forces; it is the wise institution of the Creator to realize in mankind His design of love. By means of the reciprocal personal gift of self, proper and exclusive to them, husband and wife tend towards the communion of their beings in view of mutual personal perfection, to collaborate with God in the generation and education of new lives.
For baptized persons, moreover, marriage invests the dignity of a sacramental sign of grace, inasmuch as it represents the union of Christ and of the Church.
9. Under this light, there clearly appear the characteristic marks and demands of conjugal love, and it is of supreme importance to have an exact idea of these.
This love is first of all fully human, that is to say, of the senses
and of the spirit at the same time. lt is not, then, a simple transport
of instinct and sentiment, but also, and principally, an act of the
free will, intended to endure and to grow by means of the joys and
sorrows of daily life, in such a way that husband and wife become
one only heart and one only soul, and together
Then, this love is total, that is to say, it is a very Special form of personal friendship, in which husband and wife generously share everything, without undue reservations or selfish calculations. Whoever truly loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives, but, for the partner's self, rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself.
Again, this love is faithful and exclusive until death Thus in fact do bride and groom conceive it to be on the day when they freely and in full awareness assume the duty of the marriage bond. A fidelity, this, which can sometimes be difficult, but is always possible, always noble and meritorious, as no one can deny. The example of so many married persons down through the centuries shows, not only that fidelity is according to the nature of marriage, but also that it is a source of profound and lasting happiness and finally, this love is fecund for it is not exhausted by the communion between husband and wife, but is destined to continue, raising up new lives. "Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents."8
10. Hence conjugal love requires in husband and wife an awareness of their mission of "responsible parenthood," which today is rightly much insisted upon, and which also must be exactly understood. Consequently it is to be considered under different aspects which are legitimate and connected with one another.
In relation to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means the knowledge and respect of their functions; human intellect discovers in the power of giving life biological laws which are part of the human person9
In relation to the tendencies of instinct or passion, responsible parenthood means that necessary dominion which reason and will must exercise over them.
In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions,
responsible parenthood is exercised, either by the
Responsible parenthood also and above all implies a more profound relationship to the objective moral order established by God, of which a right conscience is the faithful interpreter. The responsible exercise of parenthood implies, therefore, that husband and wife recognize fully their own duties towards God, towards themselves, towards the family and towards society , in a correct hierarchy of values.
In the task of transmitting life, therefore, they are not free to proceed completely at will, as if they could determine in a wholly autonomous way the honest path to follow; but they must conform their activity to the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and of its acts, and manifested by the constant teaching of the Church. 10
Respect for the Nature and Purpose of the Marriage Act
11. These acts, by which husband and wife are united in chaste intimacy, and by means of which human life is transmitted, are, as the council recalled, "noble and worthy," 11 and they do not cease to be lawful if, for causes independent of the will of husband and wife, they are foreseen to be infecund, since they always remain ordained towards expressing and consolidating their union, in fact, as experience bears witness, not every conjugal act is followed by a new life. God has wisely disposed natural laws and rhythms of fecundity which, of themselves, cause a separation in the succession of births. Nonetheless the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by their constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life. 12
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|2001 Catholics Against Contraception|