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Life in Christ

569

The fecundity of marriage

2366

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,”

151

teaches

that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain

ordered

per se

to the procreation of human life.”

152

“This particular

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.”

153

2367

Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and

fatherhood of God.

154

“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

cooperating with

the

love of

God the Creator

and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters.

They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian

responsibility.”

155

2368

A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the

regu­

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.

156

151

FC

30.

152

HV

11.

153

HV

12; cf. Pius XI, encyclical,

Casti connubii.

154 Cf.

Eph

3:14;

Mt

23:9.

155

GS

50 § 2.

156

GS

51 § 3.

1652-1653

2205