50 Reasons to Read Humanae Vitae

It’s the 50th anniversary of one of the most ground-shaking, pot-stirring, life-giving documents the Church has released in recent history. In 31 short paragraphs, soon-to-be-Saint Pope Paul VI defended the Church’s unchangeable teaching on contraception and laid the groundwork that would inspire a certain Cardinal Wojtyla to pen the Theology of the Body.

So what’s all the commotion about? We encourage you to see for yourself. Here are 50 reasons why it’s worth sitting down right now to read Humanae Vitae.

  1. Because you probably haven’t read it yet.
  2. Just imagine, next time your mom calls, you can tell her you’ve been doing religious reading.
  3. It’s always worth re-reading.
  4. It’s one of the shortest encyclicals — in just 31 paragraphs, you too can become a reader of one of the most prophetic papal documents of all time!
  5. You’ll get something new out of it every time.
  6. It predicted that if the world accepted contraception, a rise in abortions would follow.
  7. It predicted that if the world accepted contraception, marital infidelity (and general infidelity) would skyrocket.
  8. It predicted that if the world accepted contraception, families would fall apart in greater numbers.
  9. It predicted that if the world accepted contraception, sexual objectification would be rampant and normalized, especially the objectification of women.
  10. It predicted that if the world accepted contraception, science would be increasingly used to “play god.”
  11. It predicted that if the world accepted contraception, moral standards would shrink in general.
  12. It predicted that if the world accepted contraception, governments would use it to control populations.
  13. All of these predictions came true. Pope Paul VI,  the OG.
  14. Name one thing from 1968 that isn’t hip.
  15. Well…besides the assassinations of several significant historical figures. And widespread drug use. And general moral degradation.
  16. Impress your friends by reading something originally published in Latin.
  17. You can read one paragraph a day and still finish it in most months.
  18. There’s something in it for everyone.
  19. The document has an entire section dedicated to medical professionals.
  20. …and another to public authorities
  21. …and to scientists.
  22. …and to priests.
  23. …and to Christian couples.
  24. …and to bishops.
  25. …and to couples able to minister to other couples.
  26. Read it & prove it wrong, I dare you.
  27. It contains great marriage advice.
  28. It explains responsible parenthood, which confuses many people.
  29. It inspired St. Pope John Paul II to write the Theology of the Body.
  30. Given the flowery language of most Church documents, this one’s super digestible.
  31. It’s super tweetable, if you’re into that.
  32. It’s wildly pro-woman.
  33. Discover #MeToo: The Origin Story.
  34. It explains the “why” behind the Church’s teachings on natural family planning.
  35. It illustrates well the connection between body and spirit, even in our everyday decision making.
  36. You can ease into it by flipping through this album first.
  37. Do you even know what “the principal of totality” is?
  38. It’s a good stepping stone for diving into other teachings.
  39. If you read it at work, you’ll get paid to do it.
  40. It illustrates that God’s wisdom is timeless.
  41. It called for — and in large part resulted in — more advanced fertility science that has since helped countless seemingly infertile women to conceive.
  42. You might literally be the result of this document.
  43. It’s an inspirational read for those with a vocation to marriage.
  44. It’s an inspirational read for those without a vocation to marriage.
  45. It injects many much-needed truths about the human condition to the arm of our oft-unwilling culture.
  46. It makes rational arguments, not just religious appeals. (Take a brief dip into almost any Church document and you’ll find this is the case.)
  47. It’s firm and clear in its teachings without being judgmental or preachy.
  48. It explains the spiritual roots of the deep longing of our souls and illustrates why hook-up culture will never truly satisfy us.
  49. It also explains the dangers of contracepting occasionally within an otherwise fruitful marriage.
  50. I wrote out 50 reasons so for heaven’s sake just read the document.

— CCL Staff Member