The Vocation of Christian Marriage as an Approach to the Bioethics of Human Reproduction

Janet E. Smith
Reproduced with Permission

Marriage is an institution that has been around as long as mankind.1 One would think, then, that we would know a lot more about marriage than we do. If anything, current statistics on divorce and infidelity would seem to indicate that we are regressing rather than progressing in our understanding of marriage. Here is not the place to rehearse the misunderstandings of the nature of marriage that are rampant in contemporary society. The challenge here is to determine what truth or truths about the objective reality of marriage need to be heard by our contemporaries and to explore how we might get them to see and accept the objective reality of marriage. The intent here is to use this information to understand better the Vatican teaching that in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer (ET) are morally impermissible even for spouses.2

There are truths about marriage that are so at odds with the way a society thinks that to insist upon them only discredits the prophetic voice that promotes them. Many of the truths about the differences between men and women, the appropriateness of different roles for men and women, the notion that, for the most part, the husband should be the head of the household, are all messages that simply enrage rather than enlighten so many living in our times. For my part, I think it is best to promote other truths and hope that these insights concerning men and women will follow.

In each age there are truths that society is aching to hear since it suffers so greatly from the rejection or neglect of these truths. Our age is belatedly becoming aware of the damage done to individuals and to society through sex outside of marriage, through broken marriages, through broken families. Our society is still oblivious to the extent of the damage done through these evils; it does not yet realize how connected are the evils of broken homes, alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty, and homelessness - indeed, careful reflection suggests that the evil of broken families may well have a contributing influence to most of the troubles that our society faces. Nor do broken families tend to produce the healthy and sane human beings we need to guide us out of our problems. That we have such problems, however, may make us more receptive to the saving truth. Voices that purport to offer some kind of solution to these miseries have a chance of being heard. For instance, the voices that proclaim it is more important and more effective to teach teenagers to be chaste than to provide them with easy access to contraceptives are starting to be heard in some quarters.

There are also truths that a society desperately needs to hear, truths to which it may be most resistant, but that are its only hope for extricating itself from its miseries. The truths about the evils of abortion, contraception, and technological manipulation of human reproduction are among these truths that our society needs to hear.

Reality of Marriage

One suggested way of leading people to see the objective reality of marriage is to draw their attention to marriage, to have them reflect upon good and faithful marriages - marriages open to the transmission of life - and through these observations to draw conclusions about the nature of true and authentic marriage. Although much of my understanding of marriage has come through such a process, I have found that it is difficult to guide others through this sort of analysis. It is my good fortune to know an uncommon number of good marriages, to have had the opportunity to observe them closely, and to learn from them how marvelous is the love that flows within these marriages, how steady is the growth of the spouses in maturity and love for each other, how beautiful is the development of the children. Yet, when I speak to others of such marriages, I find they have no experience of these; many of their parents have been divorced, many if not most of their friends have been divorced, and they are virtually unaware of marriages in which the spouses do not practice contraception. They may have met someone from a large family, but they have not seen an intact, large family up close. When I do draw such families to their attention, what they see are the scruffy and tacky toys on the front lawn, the scruffy and tacky furniture in the living room, the somewhat unfashionable attire worn by family members, the used station wagon in the driveway, the constant clamoring of the kids and the corresponding testiness of the parents. Features such as a wife not working and the lack of money, time, or freedom for European travel (by the spouses) also have their impact. Many cannot and do not see the strong bonds of love being formed and the generous spirits being developed in these families. They cannot see the compelling sense of meaning and purpose to life experienced by the parents as the underlying wellspring keeping them committed in the midst of their daily hassles. They cannot see the benefits of the steady generosity, sometimes verging on the heroic, that individuals in these marriages eventually develop. They cannot see the deep and nearly inexpressible happiness that comes from caring so much and working so hard for others. Marriages that are not simply arrangements for the mutual self-indulgence of the spouses have an inner reality which is not always easy to see. This reality is revealed only to those who have eyes to see.

Christian Commitment

So were do we start in explaining the nature of marriage? I believe we need to start with a more general explanation of the Christian commitment. In Familiaris Consortio3, Pope John Paul II states:

The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.

Willed by God in the very act of creation, marriage and the family are interiorly ordained in fulfillment in Christ and have need of his grace in order to be healed from the wounds of sin and restored to their beginning, that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God's plan.

It seems to me that before the larger society can be reformed in its understanding and practice of marriage, Christians must first make full use of the resources of their faith and Church and work to form marriages and families out of which will come those who have eyes to see and who will be articulate and persuasive proponents of true marriage. Christians understand that marriage is a part of God's plan, and it is this objective reality of marriage that I believe must be more deeply understood.

Marriage: A Natural Institution

Certainly marriage is not an institution exclusive to Christians. It is an institution natural to man, which satisfies some of his deeper yearnings, meets some of his most pressing needs, and enables him to live his life in a more purposeful fashion. The Church has long taught that natural law reveals to man that marriage is monogamous and indissoluble and ordained to the bringing forth of new life. I suspect that many recognize these as essential features of marriage; when young people get married, they intend to be monogamous, married for a lifetime, and open to bringing forth children - if only a few well-planned children. But too few are able to be true to these intentions. It is not easy to have this kind of marriage, especially in our times when the social and political supports for such marriages are few and the forces against such marriages are powerful and pervasive. Spouses need tremendous graces to live true marriages, and they simply are not getting them. It must be acknowledged that few are actively seeking graces, and most engage in practices that are obstacles to growth in grace. One of the most devastating obstacles to grace and most insidious forces against marriage is the contraceptive mentality stemming from contraceptive practice. It corrodes marriages in ways that are not wholly visible but very damaging. Only a few in our society seem able to see this truth about marriage. What might reveal it to others?

I am going to enunciate four principles that I think might lead us to an understanding of marriage and that will aid us in seeing the vision of the Church on the issues that concern us here. First, we need to deepen our sense that our existence in this world is a gift. Second, we need to understand that marriage is a vocation that commits the spouses to a certain apostolate. Third, we need to understand better what it means to say that God is the Creator of all life and that each human life is the result of a special act of creation by God. And fourth, we need to understand what role spouses have in the transmission of human life. Let me elaborate on these principles.

The Gift of Existence

The opening paragraph of the Instruction on Respect for Human Life states, perhaps all too briefly, that God is the Creator and Father of the gift of life:

The gift of life which God the Creator and Father has entrusted to man calls him to appreciate the inestimable value of what he has given and to take responsibility for it: this fundamental principle must be placed at the centre of one's reflection in order to clarify and solve the moral problems raised by artificial interventions on life as it originates and on the processes of procreation.4

This passage, which should be expanded into a book, suggests that the teaching of the instruction will not be understood unless we understand that God is the Creator and Father of the gift of life. This is just about all that the Instruction says about creation as a gift, but it serves to establish that unless we follow its direction to make this truth the center of our reflection we will not fully appreciate the wisdom of the document. We must come to appreciate that all of creation is a gift and that we are greatly privileged to share in the splendor of this gift. Among other benefits, a stance of gratitude towards the world aids anyone in perceiving more correctly the meaning of life and creation. We must gain a deeper understanding of God as a loving Creator who created out of his love. We must get a surer grasp of the connection between love and creation and especially the creation of new life. Too few Christians have a sufficient sense of what it means to say that God is the Creator of human life and thereby fail to grasp precisely what role spouses have in the transmission of that life. More will be said about this point in a moment; here I want to stress that we have too weak a sense of the fundamental Christian truth that our life in this world is a sojourn and that our time here is time in preparation for eternal union with our Father. Too few of us have a sense that such actions as marrying and having children are a part of the vital role we have to play in the history of salvation.

Marriage As A Vocation

Donum vitae speaks of marriage and the transmission of life as a vocation. It states that "God, who is love and life, has inscribed in man and woman the vocation to share in a special way in this mystery of personal communion and in his work as Creator and Father."5

Humanae Vitae has a similar passage:

Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it derives from God and finds its supreme origin in him who is love, the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to establish in man his loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, seek to develop that kind of personal union in which they complement one another in order to cooperate with God in the generation and education of new lives.6

These short passages speak a truth that again deserves a volume of elaboration. They speak the truth that all spouses have a special vocation to share God's loving and creative work. Unless we come to understand that all Christians have a vocation and that marriage is a well- defined vocation, we will not understand the Church's teaching on marriage and related bioethical problems. This vocation is a calling, a calling that flows out of the spouses' Christian commitment. A passage from the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People describes the perspective on vocation and apostolate that all Christians must hold:

The Church was founded to spread the kingdom of Christ over all the earth for the glory of God the Father, to make all men partakers in redemption and salvation, and through them to establish the right relationship of the entire world to Christ. Every activity of the Mystical Body with this in view goes by the name of "apostolate"; the Church exercises it through all its members, though in various ways. In fact, the Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. In the organism of a living body no member plays a purely passive part, sharing in the life of the body it shares at the same time in its activity. The same is true for the Body of Christ, the Church: "the whole Body achieves full growth in dependence on the full functioning of each part" (Eph. 4:16). Between the members of this body there exists further, such a unity and solidarity (cf. Eph. 4;16) that a member who does not work at the growth of the body to the extent of his possibilities must be considered useless both to the Church and to himself.7

To be a Christian is to be called and to be sent, that is, it is to have both a vocation and an apostolate. (The word "vocation" comes from the Latin vocare, meaning "to call," and the word "apostolate" comes from the Greek word apostello, meaning "to be sent out.") It is a part of God's plan that people marry. Marrying is both part of their calling and part of their apostolate. Those who marry must come to appreciate this more deeply: they are marrying not only for each other, but they are marrying as an answer to a call which God gives them, and this call entails certain responsibilities and duties.

Marriage, like other vocations, is remarkably various, but it is also true that it has a nature and has responsibilities that are independent of the wishes of those who answer the call to this vocation. It is good to note that although the priesthood is a vocation with many possible manifestations - priests are teachers, counselors, college presidents, accountants, and lawyers for the Church - nonetheless, there are certain actions that are obligatory for priests and certain actions that are forbidden to priests by the very virtue of their priesthood. Like the priesthood, the marriage relationship takes on certain dimensions because of the personalities, temperaments, talents, and opportunities of the spouses; but it also has a nature to which the spouses must submit themselves. Married couples, in fact, need to study the nature of marriage; they need to learn about their vocation in the same way a priest needs to learn about his. One engagement encounter weekend will not suffice. Christians must not assume that they can learn what marriage is from the society around them.

Creation of Human Life

Much could and probably should be said here about the personalist values of marriage, but the element of marriage that I believe needs greatest elucidation is marriage as a relationship ordained to the bringing forth of new life. Older marriage manuals used to explain that just as sex in the animal kingdom is ordained to bring forth new life, so too is human sex. Thus it is concluded, sex is for the propagation of the species and contraception a violation of what is good for the species. Undoubtedly there is some truth in these statements, but they can also be misleading. As Donum vitae asserts:

Marriage possesses specific goods and values in its union and in procreation which cannot be likened to those existing in lower forms of life. Such values and meanings are of the personal order and determine from the moral point of view the meaning and limits of artificial interventions on procreation and on the origin of human life.8

What needs to be kept in mind is that procedures that are acceptable for the treatment of other animals are not acceptable for human beings; we may sterilize animals, cross-breed them, and create new life in test tubes, but we may not do these things to human life. This principle shows the falsity of the claim that the Church has a "physicalistic" or "biologistic" view of sex; truly, it has a personalist view of sex, or it would allow all these procedures for human beings.

It is good to understand clearly why we may not do these things to human beings, that is, why the processes of the generation of human life are not to be manipulated in the same way as those of other animals. The chief and inestimably great difference between the bringing forth of animal life and the bringing forth of human life is, as seen above, that each and every human life is the result of a special act of creation by God. This is necessary because human life is immortal, and only God can bring immortal life into existence. Although God is the true creator of each and every human life, the role of spouses is neither unimportant nor simply mechanical. As Donum vitae teaches, the creation of human life should be the result of a deliberate and willing act of sexual intercourse between two spouses.

By comparison with the transmission of other forms of life in the universe, the transmission of human life has a special character of its own, which derives from the special nature of the human person. The transmission of human life is entrusted by nature to a personal and conscious act and as such is subject to the all-holy laws of God: immutable and inviolable laws which must be recognized and observed. For this reason one cannot use means and follow methods which could be licit in the transmission of the life of plants and "animals."

Since the creation of life on the part of God is a loving and free act, the creation of life on the part of spouses should also be the result of a loving and free act. Again, human life is not created by chance, it is not the result of the simple physical uniting of male and female gametes; it involves a special act of creation by God. This crucial claim, explicitly stated in the Instruction on Respect for Human Life, is at the center of the teaching of that document and of Humanae Vitae. As Humanae Vitae states at the outset, spouses collaborate with God in the transmission of human life.9

The Role of Spouses

In Church documents there is a word which cannot be translated easily into English, that captures well the nature of marriage as a vocation and defines well the place of having children within this vocation. This is the Latin word munus. I have done a rather lengthy philological review of the meaning of this word, which I shall only summarize here.10 This review may seem to take us far afield from the objective reality of marriage," but I think this word and the concepts it conveys singularly illuminate the relation of marriage and procreation.

What drew the word to my attention was its appearance in the first line of Humanae Vitae which reads, "Humanae vitae tradendae munus gravissimum," and is usually translated, "the most serious duty of transmitting human life." My classical language training however would have led me to translate munus, here translated as "duty," as "gift." This led me to trace the word in several works, most notably the documents of Vatican II where it appears 248 times.

A variety of words are used in the English translations of the Council for munus; "duty," "role," "task," "mission," "office," "vocation," and "function" are all used. In classical Latin, this word is not uncommonly used for an appointment made by a public official to his subordinate. Selection to a public office would be considered an honor. Certainly, the appointment would entail duties, sometimes onerous duties, but the recipient would willingly embrace them. In Church documents, the word carries a similar meaning; it seems most often to refer to a solemn assignment that God has given to an agent to accomplish an extremely important task for the kingdom.

Lumen Gentium lays out the munera of many of the participants in the Christian mission.11,12 This document, by no means uniquely, has as a theme the distribution of characteristic participation of different members of the Church in the "priestly, prophetic and kingly office (munera) of Christ." LG 31). Christians, in their various callings, participate in this threefold munus of Christ by fulfilling other munera specifically entrusted to them. For instance, Mary's munus (office) is to be the Mother of God (LG, 53); this also confers on her a maternal munus (function) as mother of all men (LG, 60). Christ gave Peter several munera: for instance, Peter was given the munus (office) of binding and loosening (LG, 22) and the grande munus (noble task), which was also granted to the apostles, of spreading the Christian name (LG, 23). The apostles were assigned the munera (exalted functions) of "affirming the Gospel of the grace of God, and of gloriously promulgating the Spirit and proclaiming justification," LG 21). To help them fulfill these munera, they were granted a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit (LG, 21). By virtue of his munus (office) as Vicar of Christ, the Roman Pontiff has "full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church" (LG, 22) and also by virtue of his munus (office) he is endowed with infallibility (LG, 25). Bishops, by virtue of their episcopal consecration, have the munus (office) of sanctifying and also the munus (duty) of teaching and ruling (LG, 21). The laity also share in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly munus of Christ. Living in the world, "they are called by God that, being led by the spirit to the Gospel, they may contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties (Munera)" (LG, 31). Munera are conferred by one superior in power upon another; it is important to note that in each instance Christ is acknowledged as the source of the Munera. Munera are not man-made, but God-given.

Vatican Council II issued specific documents to clarify further the nature of the Munera of different groups. For instance, Christus Dominus has as its subtitle, "Decree on the Pastoral Office (munere) of Bishops in the Church." This practice continues after the Council: the subtitle of Familiaris Consortio is "Regarding the Role (muneribus) of the Christian Family in the Modern World."

Forms of munus appear ten times in the six sections of Gaudium et Spes that speak about the role of married people in the Church. There we learn that spouses and parents have a praecellens munus (lofty calling) (GS, 47); that married love leads spouses to God and aids and strengthens them in their sublimis munus (lofty role) of being a mother and father (GS, 48); that the sacrament of marriage helps them fulfill their conjugal and familial munus (role) (GS, 48); that spouses are blessed with the dignity and munus (role) of fatherhood and motherhood, which helps them achieve their duties (officium) of educating their children (GS, 48); that young people should be properly and in good time instructed about the dignity, munus (role), and exercise of married love (GS, 49). Gaudium et Spes further speaks of the munus (duties) of procreation and notes that "among the married couples who thus fulfill their God-given mission (munere a Deo Commisso), special mention should be made of those who after prudent reflection and common decision courageously undertake the proper upbringing of a large number of children" (GS, 50). We are told that "human life and its transmission (munus eam transmittendi) are realities whose meaning is not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full meaning can only be understood in reference to man's eternal destiny" (GS, 51).

Forms of the word munus appear twenty-one times in Humanae Vitae. It is used four times in reference to the munus of transmitting human life, three times to the munus of responsible parenthood, and once to the apostolic munus that spouses have to other married couples. It seems fair to say that the munus of "transmitting human life" and the munus of "responsible parenthood" are one and the same munus; the second phrase specifies and clarifies the first. Indeed, the Church has always linked together the begetting of life with the obligation to educate and guide the life begotten. Casti Connubii, for instance, explicitly connects the begetting of children with the obligation to educate the children - not just for prosperity in this life, but with a view to their eternal destiny:

Christian parents should understand that they are destined not only to propagate and conserve the human race, nor even to educate just any worshippers of the true God, but to bring forth offspring for the Church of Christ, to procreate fellow citizens for the Saints and servants of God, so that the worshippers devoted to our God and Savior might daily increase.13

Gaudium et Spes also adopts the customary linking of procreation and education when it states that "marriage and married love are by nature ordered to the procreation and education of children."14 The encyclical Humanae vitae, then, has as it purpose the clarification of the Christian munus that belongs to spouses, the munus of bringing forth, and being responsible to children with a view to guiding children to be worthy of eternal union with God.

Raising children is a munus; it is an honor conferred upon spouses that brings with it certain obligations; it is the assignment that God gives to spouses so that his kingdom of love might begin to prevail in this world. By freely and deliberately accepting the calling of marriage, spouses also freely and deliberately accept the munera that go along with that calling, in the same way that a priest, in responding to the calling of the priesthood, accepts the munera of his assignment. To be married but not to accept the munus of transmitting life is like taking on an assignment, but not taking on the full responsibilities of that assignment and not realizing the full goods of that assignment both for one's self and for others. For instance, a man may wish to be a priest but not wish to perform some of the sacraments; that would be a repudiation of his calling and its munera.

Munus and Artificial Fertilization

Elsewhere I have applied this analysis to the teaching of Humanae Vitae that the unitive and procreative meanings of conjugal union are truly inseparable.15 Here I wish to explore what light it might shed on the teaching in Donum vitae that married couples may not have recourse to in vitro fertilization or embryo transfer, a teaching that is most difficult for many to accept.

Suppose a married couple were to accept the Church's understanding of the objective reality of marriage. Suppose they were truly grateful for the gift of life that God shared with them, were thrilled to be called to the vocation of marriage, and were eager to embrace their munus of transmitting human life. And suppose they were to discover that theirs was an infertile marriage. Do they not have an obligation br at least a right to fulfill their munus?

There are other instances where, although one cannot carry out one's assignment, one ought not then to manipulate things so that one can fulfill that assignment. For instance, soldiers may go through years of training and years of watchfulness and never fight; if war has not been duly declared, they have neither an obligation to fight nor a right to fight. Soldiers ought not to start wars so that they may fulfill their assignment. Their assignment is not so much to fight as it is to be willing to fight. Similarly, a wife may wish to bear her husband's child but if the husband is in a prison camp in a foreign land, she would not be able to fulfill that wish. Simply because one has a munus does not mean that one has failed if one does not actualize the full reality of that munus, nor does it mean that one has a right to actualize one's munus.

But some will ask, if it is the munus of spouses to have children, why could they not use the assistance of technology to help them have a child? As Donum vitae makes clear, some kinds of assistance are moral and some kinds are not. Those which serve to make the child the direct product of someone else's act, of the doctor's or the technician's act, are immoral. It states:

In reality, the origin of a human person is the result of an act of giving. The one conceived must be the fruit of his parents' love. He cannot be desired or conceived as the product of an intervention of medical or biological techniques; that would be equivalent to reducing him to an object of scientific technology (DV, II, B, 4, C,).

And further,

Homologous IVF and ET is brought about outside the bodies of the couple through actions of the third parties whose competence and technical activity determine the success of the procedure. Such fertilization entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person (DV, II, B, 5).

And still further,

Conception in vitro is the result of the technical action which presides over fertilization. Such fertilization is neither in fact achieved nor positively willed as the expression and fruit of a specific act of the conjugal union. In homologous IVF and ET, therefore, even if it is considered in the context of 'de facto' existing sexual relations, the generation of the human person is objectively deprived of its proper perfection: namely, that of being the result and fruit of a conjugal act in which the spouses can become "cooperators with God for giving life to a new person" (DV, II, B, 5).

We are all aware that there ere actions appropriately done only by the individual, actions that one ought never to delegate to others. A famous and apt example is that of Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac; his story makes it clear that we ought to write our own love letters. We ought to be the ones to kiss our spouses and take them out to dinner on anniversaries; this ought not be delegated to others. We ought not to buy machines that might do a fairly good job of writing our love letters or kissing our spouses; we ought not to hire robots to take our spouses out to a wedding anniversary dinner. A priest cannot delegate or hire someone else to say his daily mass for him; mass may get said, but it is not his mass. Children are very sensitive to the difference between a personal action that truly represents the agent and one that is inappropriately delegated. A child does not want his father's secretary to attend his school play in his father's place; it is just not the same if Dad is not there. Attending a school play is a marginally "non-delegatable" human action, but parenting one's own children through a bodily act of loving human intercourse is essentially such an action. There are some actions that are so integrally bound up with our personhood, with our personal vocation, with our personal responsibilities, that if we cannot do these things, no one ought to do them for us.

Let me elaborate briefly on the claim that producing children through in vitro fertilization amounts to delegating others to perform an action that is appropriately performed only by one's self. Suppose the spouses had the skill to perform the techniques of fertilizing the egg and sperm in vitro; would this not be a personal act of procreation? It would not. Rather, this is just the sort of action that one can delegate to others; it makes little real difference who performs this action. It would be indeed curious to think in vitro fertilization moral only if the technique were performed by the spouses themselves. But we do not find it curious to think making love to one's spouse moral only when performed by one's self. One action is "delegatable"; the other is not.

What makes the child produced by in vitro fertilization the child of particular spouses is that egg and sperm biologically belong to them; it is not that they have performed the action of conjoining the egg and sperm. Let us also consider that it is possible for babies to be reproduced in vitro contrary to the wishes of a spouse; a technician, without permission, could unite the frozen sperm and eggs of any two individuals. Who then are the parents of the reproduced child? The donors or the technicians? Who has legal responsibility for a child conceived in such a manner? A child conceived through loving sexual intercourse, however, is manifestly the result of the loving action of his or her parents, an action that would have been inappropriate for anyone else to have performed.


These reflections have grown out of the attempt to articulate some of what we know about the objective reality of marriage. Individuals called to the vocation of marriage are called to vowing a lifetime union with another, a union appropriate for the task of parenting. Marrying and begetting children are intimately personal actions, actions that to be performed appropriately must conform to certain demands and responsibilities. The above reflections attempt to shed some light on the teaching of Donum vitae that the techniques of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer are not in keeping with the dignity of the spouses nor with the dignity appropriate for the transmission of human life. It attempts to show that they remove the begetting of children from the realm of proper personal and spousal action. Whether these insights bear fruit remains to be tested, but the principle remains that a true understanding of the nature of marriage is essential to an understanding of the Church's teaching in Humanae Vitae and in Donum vitae.


1 The original version of this paper can be found in the International Review of Natural Family Planning 11.3 (Fall, 1987). [Back]

2 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and the Dignity of Procreation, (22 February 1987), Part II; (hereinafter Donum vitae). [Back]

3 John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), n. 3. [Back]

4 Donum vitae, Intro., n. 1. [Back]

5 Ibid., n. 3. [Back]

6 Paul VI, Humanae Vitae (25 July 1968), n. 8 reprinted in Vatican II: More Post Conciliar Documents, Vatican collection, Vol.2 ed. Austin Flannery (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1982), p.400. [Back]

7 5econd Vatican Council Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, Apostolicam Actuositatem, n. 2, reprinted in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, 2nd ed., ed. Austin Flannery (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1980), 767-68. (All quotations are from this edition.) [Back]

8 Donum vitae, Intro., n. 3. [Back]

9 Ibid., n. 4, the internal quotation is from John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (15 May 1961), II. [Back]

10 See my forthcoming book on Humanae Vitae to be published by Catholic University of America Press. [Back]

11 Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in the Modern world, Lumen Gentium reprinted in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, 2nd ed. Austin Flannery (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1980). [Back]

12 Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, reprinted in Vatican Council II: Flannery (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1980); all quotations are from this edition; (hereinafter Gaudium et spes). [Back]

13 Pius XI, Casti Connubii (31 December 1930), 1, n. 13. [Back]

14 Gaudium et spes, n. 50. [Back]

15 See note #10 above. [Back]