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

The papal encyclical, Humanae vitae (HV) written by Pope St. 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, marked the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae. Throughout this anniversary year, new resources were published, and special events held across the country and internationally.

Page Menu:

Humanae Vitae

  • Read the encyclical and meditate on God's design for married love. 
  • Pray with us by using these simple Humanae vitae inspired monthly prayers that can help us reflect upon Church teaching on marriage, conjugal love, and responsible. parenthood.
  • Watch or read what our bishops are teaching about God's gift of married love and life.
  • Listen and reflect on the academic presentations from the 2018 Humanae vitae 50th-anniversary symposium.
  • Hear Pope Paul VI speak about the importance of Humanae vitae in this rare video.
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Bishops Speak:

Articles and resources by bishops about Humanae Vitae
Bishops delivered special homilies or talks commemorating the 50th Anniversary, posted on the USCCB YouTube page under the #HV50 playlist.

International Resources

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 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...

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.

Pastoral Resources

  • Celebrate HV50! The above website features videos, articles, Q and As, and blogs, in English and Spanish, from the California Association of Natural Family Planning's Celebrate HV50 Conference held in July 2018.
  • Sex: What Men and Women Really Want Theresa Notare, PhD, USCCB Respect Life Program, 2004.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Another Look at ContraceptionFrom USCCB Pro-Life Activities, a short article looking at the effects of contraception on women, children, families, and society.
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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.

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Married Couples' Stories Catholic Healthcare Professionals 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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2018 50th Anniversary Year Humanae Vitae Celebrations:
Past International Events

  • 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.
  • May 31-June 1, 2018: "The Joy of Marriage: Embracing God's Vision. Humanae vitae at 50." Sponsored by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), this conference will examine the profound theological, pastoral, and prophetic implications of Blessed Paul VI's encyclical and will feature the Most Rev. Christian Lepine, Archbishop of Montreal, Dr. Janet Smith, Patrick Coffin, and Dr. Michel G. MacDonald. Held in Ottawa, Canada. Simultaneous translation in English and French will be provided. Please visit the following website for registration and information.
  • 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 hometown 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
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Past U.S. Events

  • 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 2, 2018: Diocese of St. Cloud's "Marriage Ministry Evenings--Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Humanae vitae!" Featuring, Damon Owens, "We are Missionaries of Joy." Contact Sheila Reineke, NFP Program Coordinator, 1-320-252-4721, x308.
  • February 3, 2018: Diocese of St. Cloud's Catholic Men's Conference celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Humanae vitae with Damon Owens entitled "A Call to Responsibility." Contact Sheila Reineke, NFP Program Coordinator, 1-320-252-4721, x308.
  • 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 9, 2018: The Diocese of St. Cloud's "Marriage Ministry Evenings--Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Humanae vitae!" Featuring, Janet Smith, "Just Follow Your Conscience." Contact Sheila Reineke, NFP Program Coordinator, 1-320-252-4721, x308.
  • March 10, 2018: "Why the Pope Was Right: A Day of Reflection." A Catholic women's conference with Janet Smith. Hosted by the Diocese of St. Cloud. | Registration and details
  • March 20th, 2018, and monthly: The Archdiocese of Detroit's "NFP: Deeper Reflections" series is specifically designed for couples using or curious about NFP. Each month's session will feature a different theme/topic, with time for prayer, reflection, support, discussion, and fellowship. Learn more at
  • 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 Symposium," The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the USCCB Committee for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Catholic University, et al., this academic conference featured talks from experts in the sciences, social sciences, history, philosophy and theology. Speakers included Archbishop Chaput and Mary Eberstadt, among others. The papers will be published in the near future. View videos of the presentations on the USCCB YouTube page. And, visit the Humanae vitae page of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America to view the agenda, speakers' biographies, and other related information.
  • April 21, 2018: The Archdiocese of Denver hosts a one-day 50th anniversary Humanae vitae conference. Archbishop Aquila, Dr. Michel Therrien and Dr. Susan Selner-Wright will explain the teachings in the encyclical and its many implications. A panel of clergy and lay leaders will also present their testimonies and a vision for educating current and future generations on the Church's consistent teachings on human love, marriage, and true happiness. See
  • April 26, 2018: The Siena Symposium sponsors "Recovering from the Sexual Revolution: Humanae Vitae 2018." Woulfe Alumni Hall, University of St. Thomas. 7:30-9PM. For more details, please see the following flyer.
  • May 6th, 2018 and various dates in 2018: The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has several events planned in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. Events for Young Adults include a Mass with Bishop Cozzens on May 6 and June 7. | More Events
  • May 15, 2018: The Diocese of Colorado Springs Humanae vitae Anniversary Celebration. Most Rev. Michael J. Sheridan and the Office of Marriage and Family Life host a dinner event with noted chastity educator, Mary Beth Bonacci. For details, contact Christian J. Meert, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life,
  • June 15-July 13, 2018: Join the Diocese of Venice for a five-week study series on Humanae vitae every Friday night (6:30-8:30PM). Held at Epiphany Cathedral, this series provides dinner (6:00PM) and babysitting for families. Cost for the study book is $25.00 per couple/individual. Register at
  • June 23, 2018: Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford, CT. "Making Room for God's Love: Humanae vitae at 50." A symposium marking the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae, featuring talks by George Weigel, Mary Eberstadt, Mary Hallan FioRito, and a panel of medical experts. Vigil Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano. For more information visit:
  • June 24, 2018: The Office of Marriage and Family Life on behalf of Bishop Kemme and the Diocese of Wichita invited guests to the St. Gianna Dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 430 North Broadway, 3:30PM Mass, 5:00PM Dinner, Featured Speakers: Dr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Hilgers, Co-founders of the FertilityCare System and NaProTechnology. For more information, contact the Wichita Office of Marriage and Family Life at 316-269-3900.
  • June 26, 2018: Join the Diocese of Grand Rapids, "Humanae vitae: Everything you wanted to know but didn't know who to ask." Held from 6-7:30PM at the Catholic Information Center. Learn about Humanae vitae, Pope Paul VI, and Natural Family Planning. The event is free and may also be viewed live on the CIC website,
  • June 15-July 13, 2018: Join the Diocese of Venice for a five-week study series on Humanae vitae every Friday night (6:30-8:30PM). Held at Epiphany Cathedral, this series provides dinner (6:00PM) and babysitting for families. Cost for the study book is $25.00 per couple/individual. Register at
  • June 30, 2018. "Freedom to Love as God Loves: Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitful. A celebration of our freedom to live out the teachings of the Church and the gift of Natural Family Planning." Diocese of Charleston. This one-day event offers Mass, dinner, a presentation by Theresa Notare, PhD, Assistant Director of the NFP Program, USCCB and awards to NFP leaders and marriage ministers by Bishop Robert Guglielmone. Contact: Kathy Schmugge, 
  • July 1-25, 2018: In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae, the Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life of the Diocese of Arlington is hosting HV50: #AskTheQuestion. Professor Chad Pecknold will host a Twitter discussion entitled "HV50: Ask the Question." The discussion will occur from July 1-24, culminating in a Twitter symposium on July 25. Learn more here.
  • 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. For more information, visit
  • 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
  • July 22, 2018: The Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa will host a celebration event on Sunday, July 22 from 5:00-7:30 PM at St. Pius X in Cedar Rapids, IA. The event will include a catered dinner and keynote address by Dr. Janet E. Smith. For more information and to register visit
  • July 23, 2018: Diocese of Grand Rapids, Mass at the Cathedral, and a Picnic on the Cathedral Piazza. Join Bishop David Walkowiak for Mass at 6PM at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, followed by a picnic on the Piazza Secchia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bl. Paul VI's Humanae vitae. More details:
  • 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 
  • July 28, 2018: "Natural Family Planning: Good for the Body, Great for the Soul!" Join the Diocese of Syracuse for this conference that will include witnesses from couples who use NFP, themes from Humanae Vitae, an overview of different NFP methods, and a Q&A panel. Lunch is included. 10am-2pm and cost is $10-$15. For more details visit this site and check out this flyer
  • August 18, 2018: The Diocese of Peoria hosts an anniversary Humanae vitae event at the Spalding Pastoral Center with Damon Owens as the featured speaker. The celebratory event is sponsored by the Respect Life and Evangelization and Formation Ministries. Contact Cecilia Sone, Respect Life Director and NFP Coordinator,
  • September 15, 2018: The Diocese of Rockford hosts "The Legacy of Love, A 50th Anniversary Celebration of Humanae vitae." See
  • September 14-16, 2018: Humanae Vitae Conference. St. Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization, Tyler, TX.
  • October 11-13, 2018: "Advancing Humanae Vitae: Best Practices and Next Steps in Catholic Health Care Delivery and Education." Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO. For details and registration, visit
  • October 13, 2018: "Humanae vitae: The Prophetic Voice of Blessed Paul VI, 50 Years Later." Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Office for Life and Family, Neumann University, Ascension Press, and the Knights of Columbus. Featured speakers include Mary Rice Hasson, Angela Lanfranchi, and Janet Smith. For more information see flyer. More information at
  • October 19 & 20, 2018: "Growing a Culture of Life Symposium." Diocese of Boise. This two-day event celebrates the canonization of Paul VI and the 50th anniversary of his important encyclical, Humanae vitae. Speakers include Susan Selner-Wright, PhD (St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver, CO), Rev. Caleb Vogel (St. Paul's Catholic Church, Nampa, ID), and Ruth Hayes-Barba (Portland, OR). View Flyer and Schedule. Contact: Jay Wonacott, MTS, Director, Marriage and Family Life Office,
  • October 20, 2018: The Diocese of Albany, NY is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae and the 5th anniversary of Gianna of Albany with "Discover True Love. Humanae Vitae: The Breathtaking Beauty of God's Design for Love and Family." Presented by Dr. Maria Fedoryka, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair of Ave Maria University. Registration and Details.
  • October 20, 2018: "Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent." The 2018 Critical Life Issues Conference in the Diocese of Metuchen will discuss the message of Humanae Vitae, equip participants with practical tools to explain the teaching and context of Humanae Vitae, and inspire a desire to become "Missionary Disciples" for Christ and for Life. Held at St. John Neumann Pastoral Center in Piscataway, NJ. Registration and Details.
  • October 20, 2018: Humanae Vitae Conference, Sacred Heart Major Seminary. A day of prayer and keynote presentations on the encyclical that has provided a clear teaching of God's plan for married love and the transmission of life. 9AM to 3PM. Details and event website.
  • October 27, 2018: The Diocese of Lansing presents a 50th Anniversary Humanae Vitae Celebration. Presenters will include Dr. Janet Smith, FACTS About Fertility Initiative, an open panel discussion, and more! The day begins with Mass with Bishop Boyea and concludes at 3:45PM. Details and Registration.
  • October 27, 2018: "Humanae Vitae: 50 Years of Prophetic Witness." Held at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University, in South Orange, NJ, this conference includes theological presentations and discussion on this significant document. Speakers include Dr. David L. Schindler and Dr. Michael Waldstein. RSVP by October 8. For more information, see Flyer and Registration
  • November 10, 2018: "Healthy, Happy, Holy- Fertility Appreciation 50 Years After Humanae Vitae." 9AM-Noon, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Pensacola FL. Speakers will discuss various topics including Humanae Vitae, Theology of the Body, the Creighton Method, and the effectiveness of NaPro technology in achieving pregnancy. Details and Registration.
  • November 10, 2018: Worcester Catholic Women's Conference. Worcester, MA. | Registration and details
  • November 15-17, 2018: "The Body as Anticipatory Sign: Commemorating the Anniversaries of Humanae Vitae & Veritatis Splendor." Speakers include Archbishop DiNoia, OP, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Dr. David Crawford and Michael Sherwin, OP. For more information see flyer and Details.
  • November 16 & 17, 2018: Call to Holiness, sponsors a two-day conference in Southgate, Michigan. Featured speakers include Janet Smith and Jennifer Roback Morse. For detail, see
  • November 16-17, 2018: "The Sacredness of Marriage" Conference. Held at Crystal Gardens, in Detroit, Michigan. Hosted by Call to Holiness, this two-day event will feature speakers William May, Dr. Janet Smith, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, among others, about the beauty and truth of sacramental love. Registration and Details.
  • December 1, 2018: The Archdiocese of New York's Adult Faith Formation and Family Life Offices' one day conference entitled "Education, Progress and Love: New Paths Forward." This event features Dr. Marguerite Duane, Executive Director of FACTS, and Fr. Paul Check, Rector of St. John Fisher Seminary Residence (Stamford, CT). The conference is held at St. Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers, NY. 
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