(Latin: Of Human Life)
Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI
|Date||25 July 1968|
|Argument||About birth control|
|Encyclical number||7 of 7 of the Pontificate|
Humanae Vitae (Latin Of Human Life) is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and issued on 25 July 1968. Subtitled On the Regulation of Birth, it re-affirms the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, and the continued rejection of most forms of birth control.
Mainly because of its prohibition of all forms of artificial contraception, the encyclical was controversial. In it, Paul VI maintained the Church's long-standing teaching, rejecting the opinion offered by the majority of the commission he had charged with studying the subject. He did not issue any further encyclicals in the remaining ten years of his pontificate. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI called this topic "controversial, yet so crucial for humanity's future". Humanae Vitae became "a sign of contradiction but also of continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition... What was true yesterday is true also today."
- 1 Summary
- 2 History
- 3 Highlights
- 4 Response and criticism
- 5 Legacy
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Affirmation of traditional teaching
In this encyclical Paul VI reaffirmed the Catholic Church's traditional view of marriage and marital relations and a continued condemnation of artificial birth control. There were two Papal committees and numerous independent experts looking into the latest advancement of science and medicine on the question of artificial birth control, which were noted by the Pope in his encyclical. The expressed views of Paul VI reflected the teachings of his predecessors, especially Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII, all of whom had insisted on the divine obligations of the marital partners in light of their partnership with God the creator.
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (January 2013)|
Paul VI himself, even as commission members issued their personal views over the years, always reaffirmed the teachings of the Church, repeating them more than once in the first years of his Pontificate.
To Pope Paul VI, as with of all his predecessors, marital relations are much more than a union of two people. They constitute a union of the loving couple with a loving God, in which the two persons create a new person materially, while God completes the creation by adding the soul. For this reason, Paul VI teaches in the first sentence of Humanae Vitae, that the transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. This is divine partnership, so Paul VI does not allow for arbitrary human decisions, which may limit divine providence. The Pope does not paint an overly romantic picture of marriage: Marital relations are a source of great joy, but also of difficulties and hardships. The question of human procreation, exceeds in the view of Paul VI specific disciplines such as biology, psychology, demography or sociology. According to Paul VI, married love takes its origin from God, who is love, and from this basic dignity, he defines his position:
- Love is total — that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner's own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.
The encyclical opens with an assertion of the competency of the magisterium of the Catholic Church to decide questions of morality. It then goes on to observe that circumstances often dictate that married couples should limit the number of children, and that the sexual act between husband and wife is still worthy even if it can be foreseen not to result in procreation. Nevertheless, it is held that the sexual act must retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.
Every action specifically intended to prevent procreation is forbidden, except in medically necessary circumstances. Therapeutic means necessary to cure diseases are exempted, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result, but only if infertility is not directly intended. This is held to directly contradict the moral order which was established by God. Abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, is absolutely forbidden, as is sterilization, even if temporary. Therapeutic means which induce infertility are allowed (e.g., hysterectomy), if they are not specifically intended to cause infertility (e.g., the uterus is cancerous, so the preservation of life is intended). Natural family planning methods (abstaining from intercourse during certain parts of the menstrual cycle) are allowed, since they take advantage of a faculty provided by nature.
The acceptance of artificial methods of birth control is then claimed to result in several negative consequences, among them a general lowering of moral standards resulting from sex without consequences, and the danger that men may reduce women to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [their] own desires; finally, abuse of power by public authorities, and a false sense of autonomy.
Appeal to natural law and conclusion
Public authorities should oppose laws which undermine natural law; scientists should further study effective methods of natural birth control; doctors should further familiarize themselves with this teaching, in order to be able to give advice to their patients, priests must spell out clearly and completely the Church's teaching on marriage. The encyclical acknowledges that "perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching", but that "...it comes as no surprise to the church that she, no less than her Divine founder is destined to be a sign of contradiction."  Noted is the duty of proclaiming the entire moral law, "both natural and evangelical." The encyclical also points out that the Roman Catholic Church cannot "declare lawful what is in fact unlawful", because she is concerned with "safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfection." This is to be the priority for his fellow bishops and priests and lay people. The Pope predicts that future progress in social cultural and economic spheres will make marital and family life more joyful, provided God's design for the world is faithfully followed. The encyclical closes with an appeal to observe the natural laws of the Most High God. These laws must be wisely and lovingly observed.
There had been a long-standing general Christian prohibition on contraception and abortion, with such Church Fathers as Clement of Alexandria and Saint Augustine condemning the practices. It was not until the 1930 Lambeth Conference that the Anglican Communion allowed for contraception in limited circumstances. Mainline Protestant denominations have since removed prohibitions against artificial contraception. In a partial reaction, Pope Pius XI wrote the encyclical Casti connubii (On Christian Marriage) in 1930, reaffirming the Catholic Church's belief in various traditional Christian teachings on marriage and sexuality, including the prohibition of artificial birth control even within marriage. Casti Connubii is against contraception and regarding natural family planning allowed married couples to use their nuptial rights "in the proper manner" when because of either time or defects, new life could not be brought forth.
The commission of John XXIII
With the appearance of the first oral contraceptives in 1960, dissenters in the Church argued for a reconsideration of the Church positions. In 1963 Pope John XXIII established a commission of six European non-theologians to study questions of birth control and population. The commission that Pope John XXIII formed to study population problems as well as acceptable methods of birth control met once in 1963 and twice in 1964. As Vatican Council II was concluding, Pope Paul VI enlarged it to fifty-eight members, including married couples, laywomen, as well as theologians and bishops. The last document issued by the council (Gaudium et spes) contained a very important section titled "Fostering the Nobility of Marriage" (1965, nos. 47-52), which discusses marriage from the personalist point of view. The "duty of responsible parenthood" was affirmed, but the determination of licit and illicit forms of regulating birth was reserved to Pope Paul VI. After the close of the council a fifth and final meeting of the commission was held, again enlarged to include sixteen bishops as an executive committee, in Rome in the spring of 1966. The commission was only consultative but did make a report to Paul VI approved by a majority of members, proposing that he might use his authority to approve at least some form of contraception for married couples. A minority number of members opposed this report and issued a parallel report to the Pope. After two more years of study and consultation, the pope issued Humanae Vitae, which removed any doubt that hormonal anti-ovulants are contraceptive. He explained why he did not accept the opinion of the majority report of the commission (1968, #6).
The role of Karol Wojtyła
According to George Weigel's biography of John Paul II, Paul VI named Archbishop Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II) to the commission. However, the Communist authorities in Poland would not permit him to travel to Rome to take part in person. Wojtyła had earlier defended the church's position from a philosophical standpoint in his 1960 book Love and Responsibility. Wojtyła's position was strongly considered, and was reflected in the final draft of the encyclical, although much of his language and arguments were not incorporated. Weigel attributes much of the poor reception of the encyclical to the omission of many of Wojtyła's arguments.
Drafting of the Encyclical
In his role as Theologian of the Pontifical Household Mario Luigi Ciappi advised Pope Paul VI during the drafting of Humanae vitae. Ciappi, a doctoral graduate of the Pontificium Athenaeum Internationale Angelicum, the future Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, served as professor of dogmatic theology there and was Dean of the Angelicum's Faculty of Theology from 1935 to 1955.
Faithfulness to God's design
13. Men rightly observe that a conjugal act imposed on one's partner without regard to his or her condition or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife. If they further reflect, they must also recognize that an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will. But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source. "Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact," Our predecessor Pope John XXIII recalled. "From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God."
Lawful therapeutic means
15. ...the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result therefrom — provided such impediment is not directly intended.
Recourse to infertile periods
16. ...If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained.
Concern of the Church
18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction.") She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical. Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man. In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife. This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage "to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men".
23. We are fully aware of the difficulties confronting the public authorities in this matter, especially in the developing countries. In fact, We had in mind the justifiable anxieties which weigh upon them when We published Our encyclical letter Populorum Progressio. But now We join Our voice to that of Our predecessor John XXIII of venerable memory, and We make Our own his words: "No statement of the problem and no solution to it is acceptable which does violence to man's essential dignity; those who propose such solutions base them on an utterly materialistic conception of man himself and his life. The only possible solution to this question is one which envisages the social and economic progress both of individuals and of the whole of human society, and which respects and promotes true human values." No one can, without being grossly unfair, make divine Providence responsible for what clearly seems to be the result of misguided governmental policies, of an insufficient sense of social justice, of a selfish accumulation of material goods, and finally of a culpable failure to undertake those initiatives and responsibilities which would raise the standard of living of peoples and their children.
Response and criticism
Galileo affair comparison
Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens, a moderator of the ecumenical council, questioned, "whether moral theology took sufficient account of scientific progress, which can help determine, what is according to nature. I beg you my brothers let us avoid another Galileo affair. One is enough for the Church." In an interview in Informations Catholiques Internationales on 15 May 1969, he criticized the Pope’s decision again as frustrating the collegiality defined by the Council, calling it a non-collegial or even an anti-collegial act. He was supported by Vatican II theologians such as Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, and several bishops, including Christopher Butler, who called it one of the most important contributions to contemporary discussion in the Church.
The publication of the encyclical marks the first time in the twentieth century that open dissent from the laity about teachings of the Church was voiced widely and publicly. The teaching has been criticized by development organizations and others who claim that it limits the methods available to fight worldwide population growth and struggle against AIDS. Within two days of the encyclical's release, a group of dissident theologians, led by Rev. Charles Curran, then of The Catholic University of America, issued a statement stating, "spouses may responsibly decide according to their conscience that artificial contraception in some circumstances is permissible and indeed necessary to preserve and foster the value and sacredness of marriage.
Two months later, the controversial "Winnipeg Statement" issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that those who cannot accept the teaching should not be considered shut off from the Catholic Church, and that individuals can in good conscience use contraception as long as they have first made an honest attempt to accept the difficult directives of the encyclical.
The Dutch Catechism of 1966, based on the Dutch bishops' interpretation of the just completed Vatican Council, and the first post-Council comprehensive Catholic catechism, noted the lack of mention of artificial contraception in the Council. "As everyone can ascertain nowadays, there are several methods of regulating births. The Second Vatican Council did not speak of any of these concrete methods… This is a different standpoint than that taken under Pius XI some thirty years which was also maintained by his successor ... we can sense here a clear development in the Church, a development, which is also going on outside the Church."
There were significant struggles between the Church and the Communist rulers of Poland, who promoted abortion and birth control.
Ecumenical reactions were mixed. Lutherans and the World Council of Churches were disappointed. Eugene Carson Blake criticised the concepts of nature and natural law, which, in his view, still dominated Catholic theology, as outdated. This concern dominated several articles in Catholic and non-Catholic journals at the time. Patriarch Athenagoras I stated his full agreement with Pope Paul VI: “He could not have spoken in any other way.”
In Latin America, much support developed for the Pope and his encyclical. As World Bank President Robert McNamara declared at the 1968 Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group that countries permitting birth control practices will get preferential access to resources, doctors in La Paz, Bolivia, called it insulting that money should be exchanged for the conscience of a Catholic nation. In Colombia, Cardinal Anibal Muñoz Duque declared, if American conditionality undermines Papal teachings, we prefer not to receive one cent. The Senate of Bolivia passed a resolution, stating that Humanae Vitae can be discussed in its implications on individual consciences, but, it is of greatest significance, because the papal document defends the rights of developing nations to determine their own population policies. The Jesuit Journal Sic dedicated one edition to the encyclical with supportive contributions.
In the book "Nighttime conversations in Jerusalem. On the risk of faith." well–known liberal Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini accused Paul VI of deliberately concealing the truth, leaving it to theologians and pastors to fix things by adapting precepts to practice: "I knew Paul VI well. With the encyclical, he wanted to express consideration for human life. He explained his intention to some of his friends by using a comparison: although one must not lie, sometimes it is not possible to do otherwise; it may be necessary to conceal the truth, or it may be unavoidable to tell a lie. It is up to the moralists to explain where sin begins, especially in the cases in which there is a higher duty than the transmission of life." 
Response of Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI was troubled by the encyclical's reception in the West. Acknowledging the controversy, Paul VI in a letter to the Congress of German Catholics (Aug. 30, 1968), stated: "May the lively debate aroused by our encyclical lead to a better knowledge of God’s will." In March 1969, he had a meeting with one of the main critics of Humanae Vitae, Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens. Paul heard him out and said merely, "Yes, pray for me; because of my weaknesses, the Church is badly governed". On 23 June 1978, weeks before his death, in an address to the College of Cardinals, Paul VI reaffirmed his Humanae Vitae: "following the confirmations of serious science", and which sought to affirm the principle of respect for the laws of nature and of "a conscious and ethically responsible paternity".
Although polls show that many Catholics dissent from church teaching on contraception, there has nevertheless been a resurgence of support for it in certain quarters. Roman Catholic lay writers such as Janet E. Smith, leading theologian Scott and his wife Kimberly Hahn, Christopher West, Matt Fradd, and Mary Shivanandan have all written extensively in support of the teaching, and on the reasons behind it. At the official level, Catholicism’s commitment to “Humanae Vitae” is more stable than ever. According to John L. Allen, Jr., "In addition, three decades of bishops’ appointments by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both unambiguously committed to “Humanae Vitae,” mean that senior leaders in Catholicism these days are far less inclined than they were in 1968 to distance themselves from the ban on birth control, or to soft-pedal it. A striking number of Catholic bishops have recently brought out documents of their own defending “Humanae Vitae.” Also, developments in fertility awareness since the 1960s  have given rise to natural family planning organizations such as the Billings Ovulation Method, Couple to Couple League and the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, which actively provide formal instruction on the use and reliability of natural methods of birth control.
Pope John Paul I
Albino Luciani's views on Humanae Vitae have been debated. Journalist John L. Allen, Jr. claims that "it's virtually certain that John Paul I would not have reversed Paul VI’s teaching, particularly since he was no doctrinal radical. Moreover, as Patriarch in Venice some had seen a hardening of his stance on social issues as the years went by." According to Allen "...it is reasonable to assume that John Paul I would not have insisted upon the negative judgment in Humanae Vitae as aggressively and publicly as John Paul II did, and probably would not have treated it as a quasi-infallible teaching. It would have remained a more 'open' question". Other sources take a different view and note that during his time as Patriarch of Venice that "Luciani was intransigent with his upholding of the teaching of the Church and severe with those, through intellectual pride and disobedience paid no attention to the Church's prohibition of contraception", though while not condoning the sin, he was tolerant of those who sincerely tried and failed to live up to the Church's teaching. The book states that "...if some people think that his compassion and gentleness in this respect implies he was against Humane Vitae one can only infer it was wishful thinking on their part and an attempt to find an ally in favor of artificial contraception."
Pope John Paul II
After he became pope in 1978, John Paul II continued on the Catholic Theology of the Body of his predecessors with a series of lectures, entitled Theology of the Body, in which he talked about an original unity between man and women, purity of heart (on the Sermon on the Mount), marriage and celibacy and reflections on Humane Vitae, focusing largely on responsible parenthood and marital chastity. John Paul II readdressed some of the same issues in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis splendor. He reaffirmed much of Humanae Vitae, and specifically described the practice of artificial contraception as an act not permitted by Catholic teaching in any circumstances. The same encyclical also clarifies the use of conscience in arriving at moral decisions, including in the use of contraception. However, John Paul also said, “It is not right then to regard the moral conscience of the individual and the magisterium of the Church as two contenders, as two realities in conflict. The authority which the magisterium enjoys by the will of Christ exists so that the moral conscience can attain the truth with security and remain in it.” John Paul quoted Humanae Vitae as a compassionate encyclical, "Christ has come not to judge the world but to save it, and while he was uncompromisingly stern towards sin, he was patient and rich in mercy towards sinners".
Pope Benedict XVI
On 12 May 2008, Benedict XVI accepted an invitation to talk to participants in the International Congress organized by the Pontifical Lateran University on the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. He put the encyclical in the broader view of love in a global context, a topic he called "so controversial, yet so crucial for humanity's future." Humanae Vitae became "a sign of contradiction but also of continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition... What was true yesterday is true also today." The Church continues to reflect "in an ever new and deeper way on the fundamental principles that concern marriage and procreation." The key message of Humanae Vitae is love. Benedict states, that the fullness of a person is achieved by a unity of soul and body, but neither spirit nor body alone can love, only the two together. If this unity is broken, if only the body is satisfied, love becomes a commodity.
- Benedict XVI, international congress organized by the Pontifical Lateran University on the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, 12 May 2008
- (Germain Grisez on Humanæ Vitae, Then and Now, Retrieved 2 March 2006
- Humanae Vitae, pgs. 2-8
- Pius XI, encyc.letter Divini illius Magistri: AAS 22 (1930), pgs. 58-61; encyc. letter Casti connubii: AAS 22 (1930), pgs. 545-546
- Discorsi e radiomessaggi di Pio XII, VI, pgs. 191-2; to Italian Association of Catholic Midwives: AAS 43 (1951), pgs. 835-54
- John XXIII, encyc. letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), pg. 457
- Herder Korrespondenz, Orbis Catholicus Freiburg, Herder Verlag, 1964-1968
- Humanae Vitae, pg. 1
- Humane Vitae, 7.
- Humanae Vitae, pgs. 8-9.
- Humanae Vitae.
- Humanae Vitae, pg. 17
- Humanae Vitae, pg. 23
- Humanae Vitae, pg. 27
- Humanae Vitae, pg. 28
- Humane Vitae, pg. 30
- Humanae Vitae, pg. 31
- Campbell, Flann (November 1960). "Birth Control and the Christian Churches". Population Studies 14 (2): 131–147. doi:10.2307/2172010. JSTOR 2172010.
- Shannon, William Henry (1970). "VII. The Papal Commission on Birth Control". The lively debate: response to Humanae vitae. New York: Sheed & Ward. pp. 76–104. ISBN 0-8362-0374-7.
- McClory, Robert (1995). Turning point: the inside story of the Papal Birth Control Commission, and how Humanae Vitae changed the life of Patty Crowley and the future of the church. New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0-8245-1458-0.
- Health Care Ethics A Catholic Theological Analysis, Fifth Edition, Georgetown University Press: 2005; ISBN=978-1-58901-116-8
- Weigel, George (1999, 2001). Witness to Hope. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-018793-X. "The encyclical was not drafted precisely as Wojtyla proposed".
- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=26830305 Accessed 2-13-2013
- See John XXIII, encyc. letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), pg. 447 [TPS VII, pg. 331].
- Lk 2. 34
- John XXIII, Encyc. letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), pg. 447 [TPS VII, pg. 331]
- See Paul VI, encyc. letter Populorum progressio #48-55: AAS 59 (1967), pgs. 281-4 [TPS XII, pgs. 160-2] "If only all governments which were able would do what some are already doing so nobly, and bestir themselves to renew their efforts and their undertakings! There must be no relaxation in the programs of mutual aid between all the branches of the great human family. Here We believe an almost limitless field lies open for the activities of the great international institutions."
- Peter Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, Paulist Press New York, 1993, pg. 394
- Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, Paulist Press New York, 1993, pg. 533
- Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, Paulist Press New York, 1993, pg. 528
- Peter Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, Paulist Press New York, 1993, pg. 533
- McCormick, Richard (1993-07-07). "Humanae Vitae 25 Years Later". America. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- A New Catechism, pg. 402
- HK 1968, pg. 548
- La Croix, 31 July 1968; 13 August 1968
- Sontagsblatt, 11 November 1968
- Reforme, 10 August 1968
- Herder Korrespondenz, Orbis Catholicus, Freiburg, 1968, pg. 404
- Herder Korrespondenz, Orbis Catholicus, Freiburg, 1968, pg. 549
- Sic, 31, pg. 308, October 1968, pgs. 359-79
- Sandro Magister-s blog
- McCormick, Richard (1993-07-17). "'Humanae Vitae' 25 Years Later". America Magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
- Peter Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, Paulist Press New York, 1993, pg. 532
- L'Osservatore: Paul VI Never Looked Back: Vatican Paper Remembers "Humanae Vitae", 25 July 2008
- John L. Allen, Jr. (2008-07-29). "The pope vs. the pill". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- Allen, John (2008-07-27). "The Pope vs. the Pill". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- For example, one Natural Birth Control website (Justisse) quotes the British Medical Journal (Volume 307, 2003): "According to the World Health Organization, 93% of women everywhere can identify the symptoms which distinguish adequately between the fertile and the infertile phases of the [menstrual] cycle… [Using fertility awareness for reproductive planning] is inexpensive, highly effective, without side effects and may be particularly acceptable to and efficacious among [certain] people.""World Health Organization Endorses Fertility Awareness". Justisse. Archived from the original on 2006-12-14. Retrieved 2007-03-27.
- Kay Withers, "Pope John Paul I and Birth Control", America, March 24, 1979, pp. 233-34.
- National Catholic Reporter
- Kay Withers, "Pope John Paul I and Birth Control", America, 24 March 1979, pgs. 233-4
- Raymond and Lauretta, The Smiling Pope, The Life & Teaching of John Paul I. Our Sunday Visitor Press: 2004
- Weigel, George (2005). Witness to hope, The biography of Pope John Paul II. New York. p. 336.
- Weigel, pgs. 336-43
- Veritatis Splendor, pg. 95
- Benedict XVI, international congress organized by the Pontifical Lateran University on the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, 12 May 2008
- Quoted from Deus Caritas Est
- Wojtyła, Karol (1993). Love and Responsibility. Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-445-6.
- Smith, Janet (1993). Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader. Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-433-2.
- Shivanandan, Mary (1999). Crossing the Threshold of Love: A New Vision of Marriage. Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 0-8132-0941-2.
- Hahn, Kimberly (2002). Life-Giving Love. Charis Books. ISBN 0-8132-0941-2.
- Kippley, John F. (2005). Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality. Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-973-3.
- McClory, Robert (1995). Turning point: the inside story of the Papal Birth Control Commission, and how Humanae Vitae changed the life of Patty Crowley and the future of the church. Crossroads Publishing. ISBN 0-8245-1458-0.
- Rubio, Julie Hanlon (Fall 2005). "Beyond the LIberal/Conservative Divide on Contraception". Horizons: the Journal of the College Theology Society (Villanova University) 32 (2).
- Dominion, Jack; Hugh Montefiore (1989). God, Sex and Love. SCM Press.
- The Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae on the Vatican website
- Original Latin text of Humanae Vitae
- The Humanae Vitae controversy, chapter from George Weigel's biography of Karol Wojtyła
- G. E. M. Anscombe: Contraception and Chastity
- Cardinal Varkey's Letter on Family Planning Trends Among Catholics: Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil, Kerala, India
- Natural Family Planning, John and Sheila Kippley's website that supports Humanae Vitae and provides instruction in natural family planning
- The Vindication of Humanae Vitae, by Mary Eberstadt First Things, August/September 2008.