‘Humanae Vitae’ wisdom is even clearer 40 years later

Four decades after its release, the message of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on married love and procreation, “Humanae Vitae,” is more necessary today than ever, say natural family planning educators in the Diocese of Peoria.

That is because the years since the encyclical’s publication on July 25, 1968, have witnessed widespread use of contraceptives, legalization of abortion, continued attacks on marriage and a weakening of regard for the human person, according to Paul Kortz, FertilityCare coordinator at OSF Saint Francis FertilityCare Center in Peoria.

“There continues to be a push for embryonic stem cell research, adding to problems that attack the dignity of marriage, including legalizing same-sex marriages, premarital sex and infidelity,” said Kortz, who is immediate past president of the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals.

For those reasons, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, which reaffirmed that contraception is immoral and encouraged natural methods of family planning, “is all so much more poignant and relevant today, even after 40 years,” said Tim Roder, director of the Office of Marriage and Family in the diocesan Office of Family Life.

The 40th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae” features prominently in resources for National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week prepared by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

NFP Awareness Week this year runs from July 20 to 26, and the theme is “Freely, Totally, Faithfully,” based on the definition of conjugal love in “Humanae Vitae.”

Each year, the USCCB designates a week in late July for NFP awareness. The dates are chosen both to highlight the anniversary of “Humanae Vitae” and the July 26 memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Mother.

The Diocese of Peoria has distributed the USCCB’s resources to all parishes, said Roder, whose office oversees NFP education in the diocese. On the Internet, the resources may be downloaded at www.usccb. org/prolife/issues/nfp/index.shtml (choose “National NFP Awareness Week” from the side bar menu).

In preparation for NFP Awareness Week, a “date night” for NFP couples and fertility educators was planned for Friday evening, July 18, at a couple’s home in Peoria. The evening was to include social time, NFP discussion, and sharing new materials developed by the Couple to Couple League, Roder said.

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