Humanae vitae, a generation later

Humanae vitae, a generation later

Janet E. Smith
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 443
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  • Book Info
    Humanae vitae, a generation later
    Book Description:

    Janet E. Smith presents a comprehensive review of this issue from a philosophical and theological perspective. Tracing the emergence of the debate from the mid-1960s and reviewing the documents from the Special Papl Commission established to advise Pope Paul VI, Smith also examines the Catholic Church's position on marriage, which provides context for its condemnation of contraception.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2091-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. ONE Beginnings of the Debate
    (pp. 1-35)

    What are the main points of disagreement about the morality of contraception? Why is it that so many think the use of contraception is morally justifiable and a sign of responsibility, whereas others count it among the grave sins against marriage? It is striking that the most ardent voices on each side are Catholics who, one would think, share fundamental values. But we find Catholics disagreeing about the purpose of marriage, about the place of children within marriage, about how one comes to discern God’s will about marriage as well as about the morality of contraception. Moreover, in the last...

  5. TWO Christian Marriage
    (pp. 36-67)

    Humanae Vitae depends on a Christian understanding of the nature or meaning of marriage and in particular on a Christian understanding of the importance of the marital gift of having children. Although the condemnation of contraception fundamentally depends on natural law principles, the Church draws on specifically Christian understandings when it calls on Christian disciples to live a moral life. In this chapter, Humanae Vitae will be placed primarily within the context of the teaching on marriage conveyed through Casti Connubii (1930) and Gaudium et Spes (1965). These documents, of course, are not the only place to look for the...

  6. THREE Humanae Vitae: Preliminary Philosophical Considerations
    (pp. 68-97)

    On july 29, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his long-awaited encyclical on the question of moral means for limiting family size.¹ Humanae Vitae is a succinct text that does not offer much elaboration of the claims that it makes. Such elaboration is the work of this chapter and the next. This chapter will establish some of the foundational perspectives of natural law theory; it will consider the claim of the Church to be a teacher on moral matters and will provide an explanation of the claim that organs and their related acts have purposes. We will clear the way for...

  7. FOUR Natural Law Arguments against Contraception
    (pp. 98-128)

    The text of Humanae Vitae provides the foundations for several arguments against contraception constructed along the lines of a natural law analysis.¹ Most of them (with the exception of version E) depend on a recognition that organs have purposes and one purpose of the genital organs is reproduction. None of the arguments considers this feature sufficient to render contraception intrinsically wrong; all develop an understanding of the conjugal act that transcends defining it as ordained simply to reproduction. The final argument given here, version F, draws greatly on what have come to be known as “personalist” values; it nonetheless remains...

  8. FIVE Some Theological Considerations
    (pp. 129-160)

    Humanae Vitae 4 states that the teaching of the Church concerning marriage is a teaching “rooted in natural law, illuminated and made richer by divine revelation.” This chapter takes up a few of the theological considerations of the encyclical. First, it examines briefly the scriptural foundations for Humanae Vitae and shows how these “illuminate and enrich” (HV 4) its natural law foundations. Then follows a theological discussion of a very different sort. The word munus (which means variously, “gift,” “reward,” “duty,” “task,” and “mission,” among other possibilities) and the concept it captures, as shaped in the documents of Vatican II,...

  9. SIX The Aftermath of Humanae Vitae and the “Revision” of Natural Law
    (pp. 161-193)

    Pope paul vi’s reaffirmation of the constant Church teaching was a surprise and a disappointment to many, though, it might also be said that an abandonment of Church teaching would have been an even greater surprise, even to those who ardently desired a change. Many theologians and lay people registered their dissent from Humanae Vitae nearly before the ink was dry.¹ To this day, Humanae Vitae remains a source of bitter debate within the Church. It was widely observed even at the time that Humanae Vitae was issued that never before had a papal statement met with such a reception....

  10. SEVEN Premoral Evil and Other Variations on a Theme
    (pp. 194-229)

    A generation after the issuance of Humanae Vitae, dissatisfaction with the conclusions and method of the tradition has not abated among many theologians. The focus of the debate has become fairly well defined; for the most part, theologians have concentrated their efforts on justifying a rejection of the traditional claim that some kinds of actions, apart from specifying circumstances, are intrinsically wrong, that some kinds of actions should never be freely chosen by human agents no matter what good is intended or foreseen.¹ They prefer instead to speak of “premoral,” “ontic,” or “physical” evils that cannot be morally defined apart...

  11. EIGHT Self-Giving and Self-Mastery: John Paul II’s Interpretation of Humanae Vitae
    (pp. 230-265)

    The most energetic proponent and expositor of the doctrine of Humanae Vitae in recent years has been Pope John Paul II. In a series of talks given over a period of six years (1979–84), he has laid out an anthropology both philosophically and biblically based that has provided the foundation for his reflections on Humanae Vitae.¹ Two of his earlier major works, Love and Responsibility (1960) and The Acting Person (1969), were foundational for much of the thinking exhibited in this series of talks, as was Familiaris Consortio (1981).² In Familiaris Consortio he issued a “pressing invitation” to theologians...

  12. Afterword
    (pp. 266-268)

    The neglect by philosophers and theologians of the issue of contraception is not easily explained in light of the complexity of the issue and the magnitude of the question. In light of the Church’s perpetual condemnation of contraception, it would seem that Catholic philosophers and theologians would have a special impetus for considering the issue. This book has attempted to assess the status of the question: It has sought to place the Church’s condemnation within the context of its teaching on marriage and to show how it draws on principles fundamental to Catholic moral teaching. It claims that the challenges...

  13. APPENDIX ONE Translation of Humanae Vitae
    (pp. 269-295)
  14. APPENDIX TWO Commentary on Humanae Vitae, with Summary of Footnote Citations
    (pp. 296-336)
  15. APPENDIX THREE The Papal Interventions
    (pp. 337-339)
  16. APPENDIX FOUR A Critique of the Work of Germain Grisez, Joseph Boyle, John Finnis, and William May
    (pp. 340-370)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 371-406)
  18. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 407-420)
  19. Index
    (pp. 421-425)