TO THE VENERABLE PATRIARCHS, ARCHBISHOPS AND
BISHOPS AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE
APOSTOLIC SEE, TO PRIESTS, THE FAITHFUL AND TO ALL MEN OF GOOD WILL
VENERABLE BROTHERS AND BELOVED SONS:
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
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.
2. The changes which have taken place are in
fact noteworthy and of varied kinds. In the first place, there is the
rapid demographic development. Fear is shown by many that world
population is growing more rapidly than the available resources, with
growing distress to many families and developing countries, so that the
temptation for authorities to counter this danger with radical measures
is great. Moreover, working and lodging conditions, as well as increased
exigencies both in the economic field and in that of education, often
make the proper education of a larger number of children difficult
today. A change is also seen both in the manner of considering the
person of woman and her place in society, and in the value to be
attributed to conjugal love in marriage, and also in the appreciation to
be made of the meaning of conjugal acts in relation to that love.
Finally and above all, man has made stupendous
progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of
nature, such that he tends to extend this domination to his own total
being: to the body, to psychical life, to social life and even to the
laws which regulate the transmission of life.
3. This new state of things gives rise to new
questions. Granted the conditions of life today, and granted the meaning
which conjugal relations have with respect to the harmony between
husband and wife and to their mutual fidelity, would not a revision of
the ethical norms, in force up to now, seem to be advisable, especially
when it is considered that they cannot be observed without sacrifices,
sometimes heroic sacrifices?
And again: by extending to this field the
application of the so-called "principle of totality," could it not be
admitted that the intention of a less abundant but more rationalized
fecundity might transform a materially sterilizing intervention into a
licit and wise control of birth? Could it not be admitted, that is, that
the finality of procreation pertains to the ensemble of conjugal life,
rather than to its single acts? It is also asked whether, in view of the
increased sense of responsibility of modern man, the moment has not come
for him to entrust to his reason and his will, rather than to the
biological rhythms of his organism, the task of regulating birth.
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.
No believer will wish to deny that the teaching
authority of the Church is competent to interpret even the natural moral
law. It is, in fact, indisputable, as our predecessors have many times
declared, that Jesus Christ, when communicating to Peter and to the
Apostles His divine authority and sending them to teach all nations His
commandments, constituted them as guardians and authentic
interpreters of all the moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the
Gospel, but also of the natural law, which is also an expression of the
will of God, the faithful fulfillment of which is equally necessary for
Conformably to this mission of hers, the Church
has always provided -- and even more amply in recent times -- a coherent
teaching concerning both the nature of marriage and the correct use of
conjugal rights and the duties of husband and wife.
5. The consciousness of that same mission
induced us to confirm and enlarge the study commission which our
predecessor Pope John XXIII of happy memory had instituted in March,
1963. That commission which included, besides several experts in the
various pertinent disciplines also married couples, had as its scope the
gathering of opinions on the new questions regarding conjugal life, and
in particular on the regulation of births, and of furnishing opportune
elements of information so that the magisterium could give an adequate
reply to the expectation not only of the faithful, but also of world
The work of these experts, as well as the
successive judgments and counsels spontaneously forwarded by or
expressly requested from a good number of our brothers in the
episcopate, have permitted us to measure more exactly all the aspects of
this complex matter. Hence with all our heart we express to each of them
our lively gratitude.
6. The conclusions at which the commission
arrived could not, nevertheless, be considered by us as definitive, nor
dispense us from a personal examination of this serious question; and
this also because, within the commission itself, no full concordance of
judgments concerning the moral norms to be proposed had been reached,
and above all because certain criteria of solutions had emerged which
departed from the moral teaching on marriage proposed with constant
firmness by the teaching authority of the Church.
Therefore, having attentively sifted the
documentation laid before us, after mature reflection and assiduous
prayers, we now intend, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to us by
Christ, to give our reply to these grave questions.
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."
8. Conjugal love reveals its true nature and
nobility when it is considered in its supreme origin, God, who is
love, "the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is
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. It 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 attain
their human perfection.
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."
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 person.
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 deliberate and generous decision to raise a
numerous family, or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due
respect for the moral law, to avoid for the time being, or even for an
indeterminate period, a new birth.
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.
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," 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. That teaching, often set forth by the
magisterium, is founded upon the inseparable connection, willed by God
and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two
meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative
meaning. Indeed, by its intimate structure, the conjugal act, while most
closely uniting husband and wife, capacitates them for the generation of
new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and of
woman. By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the
procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of
true mutual love and its ordination towards man's most high calling to
parenthood. We believe that the men of our day are particularly capable
of seeing the deeply reasonable and human character of this fundamental
13. It is in fact justly observed that a
conjugal act imposed upon one's partner without regard for his or her
condition and lawful desires is not a true act of love, and therefore
denies an exigency of right moral order in the relationships between
husband and wife. Likewise, if they consider the matter, they must admit
that an act of mutual love, which is detrimental to the faculty of
propagating life, which God the Creator of all, has implanted in it
according to special laws, is in contradiction to both the divine plan,
according to whose norm matrimony has been instituted, and the will of
the Author of human life. To use this divine gift destroying, even if
only partially, its meaning and its purpose is to contradict the nature
both of man and of woman and of their most intimate relationship, and
therefore it is to contradict also the plan of God and His will. On the
other hand, to make use of the gift of conjugal love while respecting
the laws of the generative process means to acknowledge oneself not to
be the arbiter of the sources of human life, but rather the minister of
the design established by the Creator. In fact, just as man does not
have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, with
particular reason, he has no such dominion over his generative faculties
as such, because of their intrinsic ordination towards raising up life,
of which God is the principle. "Human life is sacred," Pope John XXIII
recalled; "from its very inception it reveals the creating hand of
14. In conformity with these landmarks in the
human and Christian vision of marriage, we must once again declare that
the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and,
above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for
therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of
Equally to be excluded, as the teaching
authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct
sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of
the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in
anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the
development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or
as a means, to render procreation impossible.
To justify conjugal acts made intentionally
infecund, one cannot invoke as valid reasons the lesser evil, or the
fact that such acts would constitute a whole together with the fecund
acts already performed or to follow later, and hence would share in one
and the same moral goodness. In truth, if it is sometimes licit to
tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a
greater good, it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do
evil so that good may follow therefrom; that is, to make into the
object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically
disorder, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the
intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social
well-being. Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act
which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest
could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal
15. The Church, on the contrary, does not at
all consider illicit the use of those therapeutic means truly necessary
to cure diseases of the organism, even if an impediment to procreation,
which may be foreseen, should result therefore, provided such impediment
is not, for whatever motive, directly willed.
16. To this teaching of the Church on conjugal
morals, the objection is made today, as we observed earlier (no. 3),
that it is the prerogative of the human intellect to dominate the
energies offered by irrational nature and to orientate them towards an
end conformable to the good of man. Now, some may ask: in the present
case, is it not reasonable in many circumstances to have recourse to
artificial birth control if, thereby, we secure the harmony and peace of
the family, and better conditions for the education of the children
already born? To this question it is necessary to reply with clarity:
the Church is the first to praise and recommend the intervention of
intelligence in a function which so closely associates the rational
creature with his Creator; but she affirms that this must be done with
respect for the order established by God.
If, then, there are serious motives to space
out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions
of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches
that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent
in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund
periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the
moral principles which have been recalled earlier.
The Church is coherent with herself when she
considers recourse to the infecund periods to be licit, while at the
same time condemning, as being always illicit, the use of means directly
contrary to fecundation, even if such use is inspired by reasons which
may appear honest and serious. In reality, there are essential
differences between the two cases; in the former, the married couple
make legitimate use of a natural disposition; in the latter, they impede
the development of natural processes. It is true that, in the one and
the other case, the married couple are concordant in the positive will
of avoiding children for plausible reasons, seeking the certainty that
offspring will not arrive; but it is also true that only in the former
case are they able to renounce the use of marriage in the fecund periods
when, for just motives, procreation is not desirable, while making use
of it during infecund periods to manifest their affection and to
safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly
and integrally honest love.
17. Upright men can even better convince
themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in
this field is based, if they care to reflect upon the consequences of
methods of artificial birth control. Let them consider, first of all,
how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal
infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is
needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men --
especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point -- have need
of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not
be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be
feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive
practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring
for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of
considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer
as his respected and beloved companion.
Let it be considered also that a dangerous
weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who
take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for
applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means
acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family
problem? Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon
their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of
contraception which they judge to be most efficacious? In such a way
men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties
encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point
of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the
most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.
Consequently, if the mission of generating life
is not to be exposed to the arbitrary will of men, one must necessarily
recognize insurmountable limits to the possibility of man's domination
over his own body and its functions; limits which no man, whether a
private individual or one invested with authority, may licitly surpass.
And such limits cannot be determined otherwise than by the respect due
to the integrity of the human organism and its functions, according to
the principles recalled earlier, and also according to the correct
understanding of the "principle of totality" illustrated by our
predecessor Pope Pius XII.
18. It can be foreseen that this teaching will
perhaps not be easily received by all: Too numerous are those voices --
amplified by the modern means of propaganda -- which are contrary to the
voice of the Church. To tell the truth, the Church is not surprised to
be made, like her divine Founder, a "sign of contradiction", yet she
does not because of this cease to proclaim with humble firmness the
entire moral law, both natural and evangelical. Of such laws the Church
was not the author, nor consequently can she be their arbiter; she is
only their depositary and their interpreter, without ever being able to
declare to be licit that which is not so by reason of its intimate and
unchangeable opposition to the true good of man.
In defending conjugal morals in their integral
wholeness, the Church knows that she contributes towards the
establishment of a truly human civilization; she engages man not to
abdicate from his own responsibility in order to rely on technical
means; by that very fact she defends the dignity of man and wife.
Faithful to both the teaching and the example of the Savior, she shows
herself to be the sincere and disinterested friend of men, whom she
wishes to help, even during their earthly sojourn, "to share as sons in
the life of the living God, the Father of all men."
19. Our words would not be an adequate
expression of the thought and solicitude of the Church, Mother and
Teacher of all peoples, if, after having recalled men to the observance
and respect of the divine law regarding matrimony, we did not strengthen
them in the path of honest regulation of birth, even amid the difficult
conditions which today afflict families and peoples. The Church, in
fact, cannot have a different conduct towards men than that of the
Redeemer: She knows their weaknesses, has compassion on the crowd,
receives sinners; but she cannot renounce the teaching of the law which
is, in reality, that law proper to a human life restored to its original
truth and conducted by the spirit of God.
20. The teaching of the Church on the
regulation of birth, which promulgates the divine law, will easily
appear to many to be difficult or even impossible of actuation. And
indeed, like all great beneficent realities, it demands serious
engagement and much effort, individual, family and social effort. More
than that, it would not be practicable without the help of God, who
upholds and strengthens the good will of men. Yet, to anyone who
reflects well, it cannot but be clear that such efforts ennoble man and
are beneficial to the human community.
21. The honest practice of regulation of birth
demands first of all that husband and wife acquire and possess solid
convictions concerning the true values of life and of the family, and
that they tend towards securing perfect self-mastery. To dominate
instinct by means of one's reason and free will undoubtedly requires
ascetical practices, so that the affective manifestations of conjugal
life may observe the correct order, in particular with regard to the
observance of periodic continence. Yet this discipline which is proper
to the purity of married couples, far from harming conjugal love, rather
confers on it a higher human value. It demands continual effort yet,
thanks to its beneficent influence, husband and wife fully develop their
personalities, being enriched with spiritual values. Such discipline
bestows upon family life fruits of serenity and peace, and facilitates
the solution of other problems; it favors attention for one's partner,
helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love; and
deepens their sense of responsibility. By its means, parents acquire the
capacity of having a deeper and more efficacious influence in the
education of their offspring; little children and youths grow up with a
just appraisal of human values, and in the serene and harmonious
development of their spiritual and sensitive faculties.
22. On this occasion, we wish to draw the
attention of educators, and of all who perform duties of responsibility
in regard to the common good of human society, to the need of creating
an atmosphere favorable to education in chastity, that is, to the
triumph of healthy liberty over license by means of respect for the
Everything in the modern media of social
communications which leads to sense excitation and unbridled customs, as
well as every form of pornography and licentious performances, must
arouse the frank and unanimous reaction of all those who are solicitous
for the progress of civilization and the defense of the common good of
the human spirit. Vainly would one seek to justify such depravation with
the pretext of artistic or scientific exigencies, or to deduce an
argument from the freedom allowed in this sector by the public
23. To Rulers, who are those principally
responsible for the common good, and who can do so much to safeguard
moral customs, we say: Do not allow the morality of your peoples to be
degraded; do not permit that by legal means practices contrary to the
natural and divine law be introduced into that fundamental cell, the
family. Quite other is the way in which public authorities can and must
contribute to the solution of the demographic problem: namely, the way
of a provident policy for the family, of a wise education of peoples in
respect of moral law and the liberty of citizens.
We are well aware of the serious difficulties
experienced by public authorities in this regard, especially in the
developing countries. To their legitimate preoccupations we devoted our
encyclical letter Populorum Progressio. But with our predecessor Pope
John XXIII, we repeat: no solution to these difficulties is acceptable
"which does violence to man's essential dignity" and is based only on an
utterly materialistic conception of man himself and of his life. The
only possible solution to this question is one which envisages the
social and economic progress both of individuals and of the whole of
human society, and which respects and promotes true human values.
Neither can one, without grave injustice, consider divine providence to
be responsible for what depends, instead, on a lack of wisdom in
government, on an insufficient sense of social justice, on selfish
monopolization, or again on blameworthy indolence in confronting the
efforts and the sacrifices necessary to ensure the raising of living
standards of a people and of all its sons.
May all responsible public authorities -- as
some are already doing so laudably -- generously revive their efforts.
And may mutual aid between all the members of the great human family
never cease to grow: This is an almost limitless field which thus opens
up to the activity of the great international organizations.
24. We wish now to express our encouragement to
men of science, who "can considerably advance the welfare of marriage
and the family, along with peace of conscience, if by pooling their
efforts they labor to explain more thoroughly the various conditions
favoring a proper regulation of births." It is particularly
desirable that, according to the wish already expressed by Pope Pius
XII, medical science succeed in providing a sufficiently secure basis
for a regulation of birth, founded on the observance of natural
rhythms. In this way, scientists and especially Catholic scientists
will contribute to demonstrate in actual fact that, as the Church
teaches, "a true contradiction cannot exist between the divine laws
pertaining to the transmission of life and those pertaining to the
fostering of authentic conjugal love."
25. And now our words more directly address our
own children, particularly those whom God calls to serve Him in
marriage. The Church, while teaching imprescriptible demands of the
divine law, announces the tidings of salvation, and by means of the
sacraments opens up the paths of grace, which makes man a new creature,
capable of corresponding with love and true freedom to the design of his
Creator and Savior, and of finding the yoke of Christ to be sweet.
Christian married couples, then, docile to her
voice, must remember that their Christian vocation, which began at
baptism, is further specified and reinforced by the sacrament of
matrimony. By it husband and wife are strengthened and as it were
consecrated for the faithful accomplishment of their proper duties, for
the carrying out of their proper vocation even to perfection, and the
Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world. To
them the Lord entrusts the task of making visible to men the holiness
and sweetness of the law which unites the mutual love of husband and
wife with their cooperation with the love of God the author of human
We do not at all intend to hide the sometimes
serious difficulties inherent in the life of Christian married persons;
for them as for everyone else, "the gate is narrow and the way is hard,
that leads to life." But the hope of that life must illuminate their
way, as with courage they strive to live with wisdom, justice and piety
in this present time, knowing that the figure of this world passes
Let married couples, then, face up to the
efforts needed, supported by the faith and hope which "do not disappoint
. . . because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the
Holy Spirit, who has been given to Us"; let them implore divine
assistance by persevering prayer; above all, let them draw from the
source of grace and charity in the Eucharist. And if sin should still
keep its hold over them, let them not be discouraged, but rather have
recourse with humble perseverance to the mercy of God, which is poured
forth in the sacrament of Penance. In this way they will be enabled to
achieve the fullness of conjugal life described by the Apostle:
"husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church . . . husbands
should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves
himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and
cherishes it, as Christ does the Church . . . this is a great mystery,
and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church. However, let each one
of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects
26. Among the fruits which ripen forth from a
generous effort of fidelity to the divine law, one of the most precious
is that married couples themselves not infrequently feel the desire to
communicate their experience to others. Thus there comes to be included
in the vast pattern of the vocation of the laity a new and most
noteworthy form of the apostolate of like to like; it is married couples
themselves who become apostles and guides to other married couples. This
is assuredly, among so many forms of apostolate, one of those which seem
most opportune today.
27. We hold those physicians and medical
personnel in the highest esteem who, in the exercise of their
profession, value above every human interest the superior demands of
their Christian vocation. Let them persevere, therefore, in promoting on
every occasion the discovery of solutions inspired by faith and right
reason, let them strive to arouse this conviction and this respect in
their associates. Let them also consider as their proper professional
duty the task of acquiring all the knowledge needed in this delicate
sector, so as to be able to give to those married persons who consult
them wise counsel and healthy direction, such as they have a right to
28. Beloved priest sons, by vocation you are
the counselors and spiritual guides of individual persons and of
families. We now turn to you with confidence. Your first task --
especially in the case of those who teach moral theology -- is to
expound the Church's teaching on marriage without ambiguity. Be the
first to give, in the exercise of your ministry, the example of loyal
internal and external obedience to the teaching authority of the Church.
That obedience, as you know well, obliges not only because of the
reasons adduced, but rather because of the light of the Holy Spirit,
which is given in a particular way to the pastors of the Church in order
that they may illustrate the truth. You know, too, that it is of the
utmost importance, for peace of consciences and for the unity of the
Christian people, that in the field of morals as well as in that of
dogma, all should attend to the magisterium of the Church, and all
should speak the same language. Hence, with all our heart we renew to
you the heartfelt plea of the great Apostle Paul: "I appeal to you,
brethren, by the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree
and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in
the same mind and the same judgment."
29. To diminish in no way the saving teaching
of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls. But this
must ever be accompanied by patience and goodness, such as the Lord
himself gave example of in dealing with men. Having come not to condemn
but to save, he was indeed intransigent with evil, but merciful
In their difficulties, may married couples
always find, in the words and in the heart of a priest, the echo of the
voice and the love of the Redeemer.
And then speak with confidence, beloved sons,
fully convinced that the spirit of God, while He assists the magisterium
in proposing doctrine, illumines internally the hearts of the faithful
inviting them to give their assent. Teach married couples the
indispensable way of prayer; prepare them to have recourse often and
with faith to the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance, without
ever allowing themselves to be discouraged by their own weakness.
30. Beloved and venerable brothers in the
episcopate, with whom we most intimately share the solicitude of the
spiritual good of the People of God, at the conclusion of this
encyclical our reverent and affectionate thoughts turn to you. To all of
you we extend an urgent invitation. At the head of the priests, your
collaborators, and of your faithful, work ardently and incessantly for
the safeguarding and the holiness of marriage, so that it may always be
lived in its entire human and Christian fullness. Consider this mission
as one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time. As you
know, it implies concerted pastoral action in all the fields of human
activity, economic, cultural and social; for, in fact, only a
simultaneous improvement in these various sectors will make it possible
to render the life of parents and of children within their families not
only tolerable, but easier and more joyous, to render the living
together in human society more fraternal and peaceful, in faithfulness
to God's design for the world.
31. Venerable brothers, most beloved sons, and
all men of good will, great indeed is the work of education, of progress
and of love to which we call you, upon the foundation of the Church's
teaching, of which the successor of Peter is, together with his brothers
in the episcopate, the depositary and interpreter. Truly a great work,
as we are deeply convinced, both for the world and for the Church, since
man cannot find true happiness -- towards which he aspires with all his
being -- other than in respect of the laws written by God in his very
nature, laws which he must observe with intelligence and love. Upon this
work, and upon all of you, and especially upon married couples, we
invoke the abundant graces of the God of holiness and mercy, and in
pledge thereof we impart to you all our apostolic blessing.
Given at Rome, from St. Peter's, this 25th day
of July, feast of St. James the Apostle, in the year 1968, the sixth of
Cf. Pius IX, encyclical Qui Pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846; in PII IX P. M.
Acta, I, pp. 9-10; St. Pius X, encyc. Singulari Quadam, Sept. 24, 1912;
in AAS IV (1912), p. 658; Pius XI, encyc. Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930;
in AAS XXII (1930), pp. 579-581; Pius XII, allocution Magnificate
Dominum to the episcopate of the Catholic world, Nov. 2, 1954; in AAS
XLVI (1954), pp. 671-672; John XXIII, encyc. Mater et Magistra, May 15,
1961; in AAS LIII (1961), p. 457.
Cf. Matt. 28: 18-19.
Cf. Matt. 7: 21.
Cf. Catechismus Romanus Concilii Tridentini, part II, ch. VIII; Leo
XIII, encyc. Arcanum, Feb. 19 1880; in Acta Leonis XIII, Il (1881), pp.
26-29; Pius Xl, encyc. Divini Illius Magistri, Dec. 31, 1929, in AAS
XXII (1930), pp. 58-61; encyc. Casti Connubii, in AAS XXII (1930), pp.
545-546; Pius XII, alloc. to the Italian medico-biological union of St.
Luke, Nov. 12, 1944, in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, VI, pp. 191-192; to
the Italian Catholic union of midwives, Oct. 29, 1951, in AAS XLIII
(1951), pp. 857-859; to the seventh Congress of the International
Society of Haematology, Sept. 12, 1958, in AAS L (1958), pp. 734-735;
John XXIII, encyc. Mater et Magistra, in AAS LIII (1961), pp. 446-447;
Codex luris Canonici, Canon 1067; Can. 1968, S 1, Can. 1066 S 1-2;
Second Vatican Council, Pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes, nos.
Cf. Paul VI, allocution to the Sacred College, June 23, 1964, in AAS LVI
(1964 ), p. 588; to the Commission for Study of Problems of Population,
Family and Birth, March 27, 1965, in AAS LVII (1965), p. 388, to the
National Congress of the Italian Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology,
Oct. 29, 1966, in AAS LVIII (1966), p. 1168.
Cf. I John 4: 8.
Cf. Eph. 3: 15.
Cf. II Vat. Council, Pastoral const. Gaudium et Spes, No. 50.
Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 94, art. 2.
Cf. Pastoral Const. Gaudium et Spes, nos. 50, 51.
Ibid, no. 49.
Cf. Pius XI, encyc. Casti Connubii, in AAS XXII (1930), p. 560; Pius
XII, in AAS XLIII (1951), p. 843.
Cf. John XXIII, encyc. Mater et Magistra, in AAS LIII (1961), p. 447.
Cf. Catechismus Romanus Concilii Tridentini, part. II, Ch. VIII; Pius
XI, encyc. Casti Connubii, in AAS XXII (1930), pp. 562-564; Pius XII,
Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, VI (1944), pp. 191-192; AAS XLIII (1951), pp.
842-843; pp. 857-859; John XXIII, encyc. Pacem in Terris, Apr. 11, 1963,
in AAS LV (1963), pp. 259-260; Gaudium et Spes, no. 51.
Cf. Pius XI encyc. Casti Connubii, in AAS XXII (1930) p. 565; decree of
the Holy Office, Feb. 22, 1940, in AAS L (1958), pp. 734-735.
Cf. Catechismus Romanus Concilii Tridentini, part. II, Ch. VIII; Pius
XI, encyc. Casti Connubii, in AAS XXII (1930), pp. 559-561; Pius XII,
AAS XLIII (1951), p. 843; AAS L. (1958), pp. 734-735; John XXIII, encyc.
Mater et Magistra, in AAS LIII (1961), p. 447.
Cf. Pius XII, alloc. to the National Congress of the Union of Catholic
Jurists, Dec. 6, 1953, in AAS XLV (1953), pp. 798-799.
Cf. Rom. 3: 8.
Cf. Pius XII, alloc. to Congress of the Italian Association of Urology,
Oct. 8, 1953, in AAS XLV (1953), pp. 674-675; AAS L (1958) pp. 734-735.
Cf. Pius XII, AAS XLIII (1951), p. 846.
Cf. AAS XLV (1953), pp. 674-675; AAS XLVIII (1956), pp. 461-462.
Cf. Luke 2: 34.
Cf. Paul Vl, encyc. Populorum Progressio, March 26, 1967, No. 21.
Cf. Rom. 8.
Cf. 11 Vatican Council, decree Inter Mirifica, On the Media of Social
Communication, nos. 6-7.
Cf. encyc. Mater et Magistra in AAS LIII (1961), p. 447.