Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 68(2) May 2018


Humanae vitae at 50

A conference in Rome last  October produced some compelling talks on Humanae Vitae.

Dr SchepensDr Philippe Schepens  gave a medical doctor’s testimony and stated that:  “this Encyclical [Humanae Vitae] explains with great clarity the true and ultimate purposes of the human sexual relationship. Unlike in the animal kingdom, in addition to the procreative purpose, the human sexual relationship is intended to keep alive the conjugal love between husband and wife through mutual giving. This is why the total separation of the procreative purpose from the purpose of love between husband and wife is contrary to the mission of man on this planet and hence becomes the source of multiple disorders.”   And yet “When the Encyclical Humanae Vitae appeared in the Belgian press in 1968, I was a young doctor fulfilling my military service as a medical assessor of prospective recruits at the military selection centre in Brussels. In total we numbered 20 young doctors. At lunchtime, there was immediate lively discussion of the Encyclical. Of the 20 or so doctors present, half were Catholics, but only two of us defended Humanae Vitae.”It is enough to say that the mindsets in question, even those of Catholic doctors, had already been seriously distorted with regard to hormonal contraception”

Dr Schepens  concluded by  reminding us that  “The Encyclical rightly upholds the viewpoint of the prohibition of artificial separation of the sexual act from procreation. This …..reasserts the dignity of the woman, who then has a say in the practice of the sexual act.” And that the price of departure from  Humane Vitae is the depopulation of Europe. 

He registers his “gratitude to the various popes who have tackled the matter of conjugal life in Encyclicals and other works, from the 19th century onwards. I think in particular of Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, not forgetting my wife, who has given me fifty years of happiness, among other things thanks to Humanae Vitae, and Evangelium Vitae”.

You  can read his full  speech  at .

Dr Tom Ward,  a retired GP in Suffolk described how the Gillick  case came about and describes the way in which  school  children were so  badly let down in both Catholic and non-Catholic schools.

His speech  is available at

Both  speeches are well  worth  reading and they are therefore highly commended.