8 Reasons to be grateful for Humanae Vitae, 50 years later

Published at Aleteia

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This year Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Paul VI in the 50th anniversary year of his encyclical Humanae Vitae, “on the regulation of birth.”

Canonization is the ultimate declaration that we should pay attention to someone’s life. Thus, we are given St. Paul VI in part, to reaffirm his teaching on openness to life.

At 50 years, it is clearer now than ever that we should be grateful for Humanae Vitae.


1: Be grateful that the Catholic Church was ahead of its time.

Savvy women with no religious motivation are increasingly deciding to stop taking the pill.

Why? Experience has taught them that contraception brings more trouble than it’s worth in at least nine ways, from personal pain to environmental degradation. 

The Church knew all along it was a bad idea.

2: Be grateful for Humanae Vitae because it gave us Natural Family Planning. 

After 1968, medically savvy Catholics re-invented Natural Family Planning, leaving behind the outdated and ineffective “rhythm method” of old and embracing a method that accurately reads the signs of fertility natural to a woman’s body.

The Church promotes the new method at the highest levels. Thankfully:

  • Natural family planning frees women from the side effects — chemical, emotional and lifestyle — of the pill, leaving them healthier.
  • While contraception often leads to women feeling ill or ill-used — natural family planning actually improves a couple’s sex life
  • In a world where men are assumed to lack sexual self-control, natural family planning empowers men
  • In a world where depression too often leads to suicide, natural family planning can save lives
  • Natural family planning helps many women overcome infertility problems.

No wonder even non-Catholic women are embracing natural family planning.

3: We can be grateful for the witness of large families.

Children can never be judged by quantity — one is of infinite dignity, the same as 11 — and it is a myth to think you can judge anyone’s fidelity by their family size. But it is also true that Humanae Vitae has also led to more large Catholic families. Thankfully:

  • Large families may increase stress, but they also increase parents’ happiness and elongate youth, according to Pope Francis.