Humanae Vitae teaches that ...

Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different.

  • In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature.
  • In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process.
  • It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result.
  •  But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.                                                                                                                           (Humanae vitae, 16)

For a brief response to the question about the difference between NFP and contraception see NFP, Myth and Reality see also the U.S. bishops' pastoral resource Married Love and the Gift of Life.


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Suggested Reading

Contraception, Infallibility, and the Ordinary Magisterium
Russell Shaw
Shaw reviews 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 if Pope Paul VI spoke infallibly when claiming contraceptives to be immoral.

Contraception, Why Not?
Janet Smith, PhD
Transcript of a popular talk originally recorded on audio tape, that Dr. Smith gives on the difference between contraception and NFP. Free digital download of the audio file is HERE.

Human Love and the Sacredness of Sex
William A. Marra
This article explores the moral difference between the contraception and Natural Family Planning methods. The focus of Dr. Marra's argument is based on the teachings of Dietrich von Hildebrand and the documents of Vatican II's response to Christian marriage.

Humanae Vitae and St. Paul VI's Prophetic Words
Mary Eberstadt
In this presentation given at the 2018 fiftieth anniversary symposium of Humanae vitae, Mary Eberstadt reflects upon negative contemporary trends which attest to St. Paul VI's prophetic cautions about a culture which accepts contraception.

Humanae Vitae, Fifty Years Later (Video)
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap.
The presentation given at the 2018 fiftieth anniversary symposium of Humanae vitae, reflects upon the negative consequences of a culture which accepts contraception. In contrast, Archbishop Chaput points to the healing balm that is available to a people who live according to God's plan for married love and the gift of life. (Please note that the presentation begins after a short prayer and brief welcome by two previous speakers.)

Natural Family Planning Is Not Contraception
Germain Grisez
This article states the basic moral principles against contraceptive use and the repercussions of engaging in pseudo-sexual acts. Grisez outlines the theology of NFP and how the natural methods are not immoral.

Responsible Parenthood and the "Moral" Significance of Methods and Means of Regulating Birth
Rev. Dionigi Tettamanzi
This article discusses the meaning of responsible parenthood as the only way to gain an understanding of the immorality of contraception and artificial reproduction.


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