Catechism of the Catholic Church

Life in Christ 569 The fecundity of marriage 2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,” 151 teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.” 152 “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive sig­ nificance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.” 153 2367 Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God. 154 “Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their chil­ dren; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility.” 155 2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regu­ lation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality: When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective crite­ ria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart. 156 151 FC 30. 152 HV 11. 153 HV 12; cf. Pius XI, encyclical, Casti connubii. 154 Cf. Eph 3:14; Mt 23:9. 155 GS 50 § 2. 156 GS 51 § 3. 1652-1653 2205