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Humanae Vitae: Of Human Life (Encyclicals of Pope Paul VI)

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  2,045 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Pope Paul VI A prophetic encyclical on the dangers of birth control, the problems it causes in society and the possible moral uses of natural family planning. Pope Paul VI saw clearly the problems inherent in the rising culture of death.
Paperback, 16 pages
Published May 1st 1968 by Pauline Books & Media (first published January 1st 1968)
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Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, but especially anyone contemplating marriage
Reading this prophetic document forty years after its initial publication, knowing the furor it caused then and especially in light of the wisdom we can now see proclaimed, I wonder if there is anything I can add in this review.

Of Human Life-Humanae Vitae warned of a number of severe social consequences which would result from the use of artificial methods of birth control. They are as follows:
1. Marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards
2. Less reverence due to women in one-on
Tirzah Eleora
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first go at a papal encyclical, and it wasn't nearly as intimidating as I imagined it would be. Don't get me wrong, it's not what I'd recommend for light reading, but it was very accessible. It was clear and concise. It's also very short, so really, if you haven't read it DO SO!

I won't promise you'll like it. Most people really hate godly teachings against contraception, but it's Truth, plain and simple. Open your heart to these teachings! People need to hear and understand this, so
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's interesting to see how highly this enecyclical by Pope Paul VI is rated since it has been pilloried since its promulgation in 1968. The people who were so vehemently dissenting from Humanae Vitae (the encyclical's Latin title) are still stuck in 1968 while the Church and those who embraced her teachings, so often critisized as being "old fashioned" or "medieval" (as if that has any bearing on whether they are true or not), are moving forward.

Pope Paul is clear and concise in his presentati
With the election of a new pope, I became curious about the dogma behind the Catholic Church's positions on abortion, contraception, and sex. Many friends have cited or mentioned this as a Catholic classic on the topic.

It fell short of my expectations. I was not expecting to be convinced, but I was hoping to at least be somewhat challenged by the ideas and seduced, as it were, by the poetry or grace of the writing.
It failed on both counts.
The tone is reminiscent of 12th-century "p
Anna O.P.
I'm very much familiar with Humanae Vitae as it crops up so frequently during discussions on pro-life topics. But only now I got to read the original document in its entirety. HV is amazing, especially considering its brevity (only 9 PDF pages, 11 including the reference list). The language is clear and leaves no ambiguous interpretation. All potential holes and traps are closed. People say it's prophetic—I couldn't agree more. This is no doubt one of the most important encyclicals in the histor ...more
Jessica Prescott
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wonderful explanation of Catholic teaching regarding marriage and contraception. Highly recommended (although for mature readers, and all that sort of thing). Pope Paul VI was an excellent writer and a great man--and ever since I first read this encyclical as a teenager, I've regarded him almost as a personal friend. It's that good.
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although this was published in 1968 this brief work is even more relevant than when it was written if that is possible.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally read the classic encyclical on conjugal love and the rearing of children. Many of Paul VI's judgments have been vindicated since it's writing almost 50 years ago. A fascinating argument, not to be hastily dismissed.

This edition also has a very good foreword by Mary Eberstadt, whose work on contraception and the sexual revolution was paradigm shifting for me. I know now that work wasn't original to her, but had a rich tradition in Catholic social teaching.
Ján Pastorek
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who "is love," (6) the Father "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."
They develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives. + Christ = grace with union
Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner's own sake, content to b
Alex Stroshine
Aug 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian-living
In this short encyclical letter, Pope Paul VI reaffirms the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to birth control. Paul VI outlines the vision for the family, the partnership between husband and wife and sex's role in the procreation of children. The pontiff is also astute in pointing out how modern man seeks to bring all of nature under his own authority - in this case, by preventing pregnancy and the birth of children. Certainly the fact that "Humanae Vitae" was released in 1968, in the midst of ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini was the man who succeeded Pope John XXIII and continued and closed the Second Vatican Council. He chose the name Paul VI because he wanted to continue to spread the message of Christ worldwide. Like a lot of recent popes, he had a devotion to the Virgin Mary and issued encyclicals on her like Christi Matri and Signum Magnum. Perhaps his most important encyclical was called Humanae Vitae. It discusses married love, responsible parenthood, and rejecti ...more
Alan Lampe
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is only 11 pages and I read it as a PDF instead of an EPUB file on my Kindle. It compressed the page to fit the screen so it was a little difficult to read. However, I really enjoyed the words of Pope Paul VI. This book (missive?) began my journey to explore St. Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. I've already read Theology of the Body Explained by Christopher West and I hope by reading the documents and books that led to the theology will greatly benefit me. Pope Paul VI is concise i ...more
Fernando de Uña
Magnífica encíclica sobre la temática del uso de anticonceptivos dentro de la vida conyugal. Se lee muy fácil, y la exposición es clara una vez llegado el núcleo del problema.

Como puntos de especial interés, aquellos en los que (1) se describe la verdad del amor humano, cómo ha de ser un amor desinteresado entre los cónyuges, (2) se establece una diferenciación clara y bien razonada entre los llamados "métodos naturales" y los métodos anticonceptivos, con un razonamiento sencillo y profundo sob
There isn't much to offer by way of a "review" when it comes to papal encyclicals. Because of how often this particular encyclical is thrown around in contemporary Catholic discussions, I figured it would be a good idea to actually sit down and read it. It is relatively short and easy to read (being addressed to the Universal Church, after all). Those who are familiar with the current Catholic rhetoric surrounding contraception and human sexuality will not find anything in "Humanae Vitae" that t ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Humanae vitae is the encyclical issued by Pope Paul VI on July 25, 1968, “On the Regulation of Birth”. It re-affirms the traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church regarding abortion, contraception, and other issues pertaining to human life and the family. The encyclical has been controversial because of its prohibition of all forms of artificial contraception. The document is described as prophetic by those who believe that its predictions about the effects of contraception on society we ...more
Written in 1968, it was actually surprisingly easy to read and very short. It feels like a pamphlet.

The most cool part was that the "law of the gift" and "the dignity of the person" and mutual respect of husband and wife were in it. Those are the exact same words Pope John Paul II uses in Love and Responsibility, published in 1960, when he was and archbishop or perhaps cardinal. Who gave the idea to whom? :D

It took until this year for me to read it. How education filters down so slowly...I hop
J.T. Therrien
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Humanae vitae is the Catholic Church's (via Pope Paul VI) position on birth control, specifically, why the Church and the Magisterium cannot condone the use of contraception.

This religious text is as relevant today as when it was released in 1968.

Must-read for Catholics who seek clarity of understanding on the Church's definition of marriage (qua husband and wife), family life and social responsibilities.
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This encyclical is astonishing in the contrast of its brevity and consequences, and also in its absolute refusal to make concessions to the popular morality of the modern world. Priests, seminarians, and theologians vocally rebelled in response to its publication in 1968, but time has vindicated it and proved its warnings true.
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 orthodox teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, and the continued rejection of artificial forms of birth control.
Fr. Kyle
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the document we need to go to as Catholics to get our understanding of contraception and the contraceptive mentality that has now become policy in our government.

Paul VI is very cogent, concise, and clear on the teaching of the Church regarding abortion and contraception. There's no ambiguity about it; both are objectively immoral and sinful.
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The book is amazing because it was written in 1968 and the Pope made accurate predictions about what would happen to society if people began the widespread use of contraception. This letter, because of its highfalutin translation, is best when coupled with the CD by Professor Janet Smith called "Contraception: Why Not."
Wendy Wong Schirmer
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
"Humanae Vitae" is not reducible to the regulation of births or "birth control" in the same way that "Laudato Si'" is not reducible to "the environment." It is about much, much more: namely, how to love in a radical way.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The teaching of the Church presented in a clear, reasonable, logical, and charitable way. It's hard to believe that maligners of this teaching would remain vehemently hostile after reading this little book.
Trae Johnson
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A compelling case against artificial birth control. I will have to re-read this soon. I would also like to get the reader edited by Janet Smith published by Ignatius, along with her book published by Catholic U.
Jun 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: catholic, life, love
Concise and to the point. More people would understand the Church's position on these relevant matters that surround procreation: its environment, nature and consequences if they read it. Alas, it might be "too much work" for some.
Andrew Votipka
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Maybe if the world (and most Catholics) took the Church's clear teachings and all of the supplemental literature, and all of the wonderful doctors and nurses doing work on NFP methods more seriously, we'd have half the issues we currently have today.
Chris Cutter
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catholic
Good book, really set in a clear message the official, un-changing, teaching of the Church regarding sex,contraception, abortion, and marriage. It also presented a call to lay people, doctors, and clergy what their mission as Catholics are to further advance these teachings.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tob
Last century in the 60s, a lot of what this letter covers was not a big deal. It was only starting. 40 years later, the issues on respect of life from conception to tomb are boiling. A must read for Catholics and be prepared!
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Nothing less than prophetic.
B. Edwards
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Exceptionally good. Startlingly prophetic in expressing what was to come if artificial contraception was accepted. It is a picture of our world today.
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Pope Paul VI (Latin: Paulus VI; Italian: Paolo VI), born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (26 September 1897 – 6 August 1978), reigned as Pope from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protes ...more
More about Pope Paul VI...

Other Books in the Series

Encyclicals of Pope Paul VI (8 books)
  • Paths of the Church: Ecclesiam Suam
  • Mense Maio: On Prayers During May for the Preservation of Peace
  • Mysterium Fidei: Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist
  • Christi Matri: On Prayers for Peace During October
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  • Evangelii Nuntiandi: On Evangelization in the Modern World
“[On married love]

This love is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.

It is a love which 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.”
“Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time should be rightly understood. Thus, we do well to consider responsible parenthood in the light of its varied legitimate and interrelated aspects.” 1 likes
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