This year marks the 50th anniversary of Humanæ Vitæ, Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on the gift of human life. To mark this milestone, the Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has issued a statement to the Catholic faithful and all men and women of good will entitled The Joy of Married Love. In it, the Bishops invite all Catholics to read and reflect on the landmark encyclical.

"Although many have misunderstood this encyclical by reducing its message to a 'No' to contraception, we reaffirm that the message of Humanæ Vitæ should be seen as an emphatic 'Yes!' to the fullness of life promised to us by Jesus Christ (John 10:10)," the Bishops write.

"Humanæ Vitæ teaches that, created in the divine image, the human person is called to reflect God’s love in the world, loving the way he does – freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully – by means of our body. This is an immense responsibility. The love Jesus has for us allows us to understand better how married love – in what Saint John Paul II called the language of the body – is called to be an image of God’s love: a love which is life-long, exclusive, and ready to reach beyond the couple itself, even bringing forth a new life! 

"As Catholic Bishops, we have been entrusted with the task of proclaiming the truth about God and his plan for our lives, of which sexuality and marriage are an integral part. We invite all Catholics once again to read, study, and meditate on this important encyclical (Humanæ Vitæ) and to rediscover the beautiful truth contained within it. The truth of married love, as it is proposed in Humanæ Vitæ, and later elaborated through Saint John Paul II’s theology of the body and Pope Francis’ teaching in Amoris Lætitia, is not always easy to live out in practice.

Read the full text of the CCCB statement The Joy of Married Love (PDF, 8 pages)

Read more about the history of Humanae Vitae in Canada in Grandin Media