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570

Part Three

2369

“By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive

and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the

sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalt­

ed vocation to parenthood.”

157

2370

Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regula­

tion based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in

conformity with the objective criteria of morality.

158

These meth­

ods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness be­

tween them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In

contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the con­

jugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its

natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means,

to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

159

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal

self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contra­

ception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely,

that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not

only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a

falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is

called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The differ­

ence, both anthropological and moral, between contracep­

tion and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in

the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human

person and of human sexuality.

160

2371

“Let all be convinced that human life and the duty of trans­

mitting it are not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true

evaluation and full significance can be understood only in reference

to

man’s eternal destiny.

161

2372

The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this

capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the

population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful infor­

mation, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state

may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary

responsibility for the procreation and education of their children.

162

In this

area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law.

157 Cf.

HV

12.

158

HV

16.

159

HV

14.

160

FC

32.

161

GS

51 § 4.

162 Cf.

HV

23;

PP

37.

1703

2209