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Humanae Vitae


Humanae Vitae--Proclaiming God's gifts of love and life to husband and wife

The papal encyclical, Humanae vitae (HV) written by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1968, provides beautiful and clear teaching about God's plan for married love and the transmission of life. On this page, you will find a number of resources that will help you deepen your understanding of these teachings.

Please note, July 25, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae. Throughout this anniversary year new resources will be published and special events will be held. Please revisit this page to find out about these important activities as we add to the information below.

Humanae vitae
Read the encyclical and meditate on God's design for married love.

Planning a Humanae vitae event? Please tell us and we will post it in the calendar below.

2018 50th Anniversary Year Humanae vitae Celebration

Time to reflect and celebrate!

January 12-13, 2018:
"The Genuine Feminine Conference." A conference discussing how the feminine genius can contribute to the development of an authentically human society, featuring Dr. Janet Smith. Held in Ave Maria, FL.

February 10, 2018:
"Celebrating Married Love and the Gift of New Life!" This diocesan event at St. Benedict Church in Cambridge, Ohio begins with Mass at 11:00AM celebrated by Bishop Jeffrey Monforton. A potluck meal will follow. All are welcome to celebrate the Church's beautiful teaching on married love and the gift of new life! Contact Joe Schmidt, Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life at; or 1-740-373-3643.

February 24th, 2018: 
"The Heart of a Woman." The third annual Catholic Women's Conference will feature Bishop Richard Malone, Dr. Janet Smith, Kate Wicker and Sr. Tatum McWirter. Held in Buffalo, NY.

March 10, 2018:
"Why the Pope Was Right: A Day of Reflection." Hosted by the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN. Registration and details here.

March 23-24, 2018:
"Humanae vitae 50 Years Later: A Call to Self-Gift." Sponsored by the Gregorian Institute, Benedictine College, Kansas,

April 4-6, 2018: "Humanae vitae (1968-2018), Embracing God's Vision for Marriage, Love and Life, A 50th Anniversary Symposium." Sponsored by the USCCB Committee for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, The Catholic University of America, et al., Washington, DC. This academic symposium will treat the history, theology, and pastoral significance of Church teaching articulated in the encyclical. Among the speakers are Most Rev. Charles Chaput, Janet Smith, and Mary Eberstadt. Register early and receive a discount!

July 5-7, 2018:
"Families, Become What You Are! Celebrating Humanae vitae as the bedrock of family life." Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Couple to Couple League, Cincinnati, OH. This family-friendly regional conference will feature continuing education and activities for all family members. Some sessions will be available in Spanish. See

July 20-21, 2018: A Humanae vitae celebration. Sponsored by the Institute for Natural Family Planning, Marquette University College of Nursing and the Catholic Medical Association of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI. This conference will focus on NFP science for healthcare professionals. More information to come, for now, see

July 21, 2018: "Humanae vitae at 50 years." Mass with Bishop Morlino followed by guest speaker, Janet Smith. Sponsored by the Diocese of Madison, WI. Details here.

July 27-28, 2018:
"Faithful to God's Design. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Humanae vitae." Sponsored by the California NFP Association, the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals, and the Family of the Americas, Ontario, CA. This national conference will provide both pastoral and theological information. Families are encouraged to attend. A Spanish language track will be offered. Special clergy education day is July 26. See 

September 14-16, 2018: Humanae Vitae Conference. St. Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization, Tyler, TX. Details forthcoming.

November 10, 2018: Worcester Catholic Women's Conference. Worcester, MA. Registration and details here.


April 27-May 2nd:
WOOMB International/WOOMB Latinoamerica Conference celebrating 50 years of Humanae vitae. Held in Costa Rica.

April 27-28, 2018: International Conference on NFP. Sponsored by Malteser Arbeitsgruppe NFP, Cologne, Germany. SensiPlan, the well-researched Sympto-Thermal method, is the NFP method provided by this German organization. The schedule features presentations from well-know NFP scientists Petra Frank-Herrmann and Günter Freundl. Roundtable discussions with NFP providers from Africa, China, East-Timor, Netherlands, and Russia are also featured. Simultaneous translations in German/English will be provided, see the conference website.

June 14-16, 2018: Humanae vitae World Congress. Sponsored by the European Institute for Family Life Education (a European NFP provider organization) in Brescia, Italy (the home town of Pope Paul VI). This world meeting will provide inspiring and academic presentations. Participants will have an opportunity to visit the church were Pope Paul VI was baptized. More information to come, for now, see

What the Church Teaches: "God's Vision of Married Love and the Gift of Life"

In Humanae vitae Blessed Pope Paul VI reflects upon how God designed the nature of married love. This he draws from Sacred Scripture and the Catholic Tradition. The Holy Father writes that married love is fully human (involving the body and soul). Married love is total, faithful, and fruitful (see HV no. 9).

"Fruitfulness" is discussed primarily in terms of God's gift of fertility to husband and wife. So important is this gift that Scripture teaches that God calls husband and wife to take up a sacred stewardship over the powers of life that He shares with them (see Gen. 1:26-28; cf. HV, no. 8). Indeed, this gift is directly related to how God created men and women in the divine image (made for communion with God and each other--life-giving love). Children are gifts from God. They are part of the fabric of married love. Consequently, spouses should be open to receiving children lovingly seeking to nurture them as they form their families. Procreation and care of children go hand in hand!

Humanae vitae raises up the question of planning births in a family. The Church has always taught that it is reasonable for husband and wife to space and even limit births in their marriage for just reasons (see HV, no. 10); however, they are called to support God's design not to reject it. Use of contraception or sterilization rejects God's gifts. That is because contraception and sterilization do harm to the nature of married love and the gift of life--they separate the unitive and procreative nature of conjugal relations (see HV, no. 14). Saying this another way, "husband and wife express their committed love not only with words, but with the language of their bodies ....the mutual gift of fertility is an integral part of the bonding power of marital intercourse." (USCCB, Married Love and the Gift of Life, pp. 4, 5.) To reject one's fertility by using contraception or being sterilized is to reject God's gift to husband and wife (see HV, no. 12).

Does this mean that couples are to leave their family size to chance?


God invites husband and wife to cooperate with Him in their mission of responsible parenthood. Spouses should pay careful attention to the nature of marriage as God created it, their current responsibilities to each other, any children already born, and the wider society (see HV no. 10). Within this context, the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) are acceptable because they respect God's divine plan for marriage!

To deepen your understanding of these beautiful teachings see NFP Church Teaching.

See also ...

USCCB Love and Sexuality Page (Please be patient with us, although this page has basic information, it is under construction.)

USCCB Pro-Life Committee 25th Anniversary of Humanae vitae statement

USCCB NFP Program Humanae vitae 40th anniversary publication


   Understanding God's Vision of Married Love and the Gift of Life

Catholic teaching expressed in Humanae vitae stands on Scripture and Tradition. Basic beliefs in how God made men and women, the nature of human sexuality, the nature of marriage, the nature and meaning of the conjugal act, God's call to husband and wife to co-create with Him, and the centrality of the family are all intertwined. They speak of our God of love who desires to build a people of love. Use the resources below to learn and reflect upon God's design for married love. Please note that some of these resources are popular and others are academic.

Bibliography on Humanae vitae and related issues:

Catholic theologians explain why Humanae vitae contains God's truth:


Pope John Paul II and Humanae Vitae
Janet E. Smith
Pope John Paul II reflects on Humane vitae and speaks to the Church about such things as the "gift of sexuality," and the body as an "expression of the person." In his reflection we find connections between love and sex. Professor Smith argues that Natural Family Planning is a program that draws upon these similar connections.

Sex: What Men and Women Really Want
Theresa Notare, PhD, USCCB Respect Life Program, 2004.

Co-Creating with the Creator: Biblical Reflections on Co-Creating with the Redeemer.
Rev. William S. Kurz, SJ, PhD, Professor, Department of Theology, Marquette University
In Science, Faith, & Human Fertility, the Third Conference on Ethical Fertility Health Management.Theresa Notare & Richard Fehring, Eds. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2012, pp. 235-265. Used with permission.

NFP Outreach:

The American Press and Birth Control: Preparing the Ground for Dissent
James Hitchcock
Professor James Hitchcock outlines the historical backdrop of the American media's frenzy over birth control in the 1960s and its implications on Catholic laity.

Contraception, Infallibility, and the Ordinary Magisterium
Russell Shaw

Shaw uses this article to review an article previously published by Dr. Germain Grisez and Rev. John C. Ford, S.J. Shaw seeks to propose a summary on the topic of Humanae vitae and whether Pope Paul VI spoke infallibly when teaching that contraception is immoral.


Rev. Jerome Cudden, OP, 45th Anniversary of Humanae vitae (National NFP Awareness Week July 21-27, 2013).
In this homily from the 2013 “Natural Family Planning Awareness Week” Sunday, Fr. Jerome Cudden, OP discusses American culture 45 years after Humanae Vitae and invites his congregation to reflect on the consequences or “prophecies” that Pope Paul VI warned could arise with the use of contraception.


Embracing God's Vision of Married Love and the Gift of Life

Many Catholics from married couples to physicians and clergy witness to the truth about God's design for married love. See the links below .



Married Couples' Stories

Catholic Healthcare
Why NFP supports God's
Design for Married Love

Over the years, inspired men and women, single and married, laity, religious, and clergy have responded to God's invitation to help the faithful understand and accept His plan for married love as described in Humanae vitae. To read their stories, visit our Diocesan NFP Ministry page.

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