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Catholic Students Discuss Pope’s Humanae Vitae (1968)


Sound | 1968

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  •  One student shares his belief that Catholics will follow their conscience regardless 
  •  Another questions the Pope’s decision to go against the majority recommendation of his commission. Sixty-four of the 69 members voting agreed with the majority report calling for a relaxation of Church policy against the use of birth control. 
  •  The “rhythm method” is a natural form of family planning in which heterosexual couples abstain from sex on the days when a woman is ovulating and thus most likely to conceive. Women are capable of becoming pregnant outside of their fertile period, however, making the rhythm method one of the least effective birth control methods.  
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With the introduction of oral contraceptives—commonly known as “the Pill”—in 1960, faith communities began to reconsider religious policy surrounding sex and marriage. On July 29, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter relating the position of the Roman Catholic Church on birth control. Entitled Humanae Vitae: On the Regulation of Birth, the letter reaffirmed Church policy banning the use of most artificial contraceptives. The edict thus rejected the 1966 recommendation made by the Pontifical Commission of Birth Control, a majority of whom believed the Church should allow Catholic couples to decide for themselves. In this news segment for Houston’s KPRC-TV, Catholic students discuss what the encyclical means and how the Catholic community will respond. The conversation takes place at the University of Houston’s Catholic Newman Center.