Life in Christ
The fecundity of marriage
Fecundity is a gift, an
end of marriage,
for conjugal love
naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside
as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but
springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and
fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,”
that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain
to the procreation of human life.”
doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium,
is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which
man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive sig
nificance and the procreative significance which are both inherent
to the marriage act.”
Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and
fatherhood of God.
“Married couples should regard it as their
proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their chil
dren; they should realize that they are thereby
God the Creator
and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters.
They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian
A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the
lation of procreation.
For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the
births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their
desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the
generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they
should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:
When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the
responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior
does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of
motives alone; but it must be determined by objective crite
ria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts,
criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving
and human procreation in the context of true love; this is
possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced
with sincerity of heart.
12; cf. Pius XI, encyclical,
50 § 2.
51 § 3.