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Humanae vitae, a generation later

Janet E Smith

Publication Year: 2010

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.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-9

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pp. ix-xvi

It is to say nothing controversial to say that Humanae Vitae is a document that has met with much criticism both on its promulgation and still today. Many think it failed to meet the challenge given to Vatican II to bring the Church into the modern world; some critics argue that it contradicts the view of marriage articulated in Gaudium et Spes. Many, even...

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1. Beginnings of the Debate

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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...

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2. Christian Marriage

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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...

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3. Humanae Vitae: Preliminary Philosophical Considerations

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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...

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4. Natural Law Arguments against Contraception

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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...

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5. Some Theological Considerations

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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...

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6. The Aftermath of Humanae Vitae and the "Revision" of Natural Law

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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...

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7. Premoral Evil and Other Variations on a Theme

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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...

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8. Self, Giving and Self-Mastery: John Paul II's Interpretation of Humanae Vitae

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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...

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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...

Appendix 1. Translation of Humanae Vitae

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pp. 269-295

Appendix 2. Commentary on Humanae Vitae, with Summary of Footnote Citations

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pp. 296-336

Appendix 3. The Papal Interventions

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pp. 337-339

Appendix 4. A Critique of the Work of Germain Grisez, ]oseph Boyle, John Finnis, and William May

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pp. 340-370


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pp. 371-406


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pp. 407-420


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pp. 421-425

E-ISBN-13: 9780813220918
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813207407

Page Count: 443
Publication Year: 2010