Diocese marks 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jul. 26, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
Dr. Janet Smith
Dr. Janet Smith gives her talk called "Contraception — Cracking the Myths" at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison on July 21. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- On July 25, 1968, Blessed Pope Paul VI promulgated his encyclical Humanae vitae.

The document reaffirmed the Catholic Church's teaching about the duty of married couples to collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator in the creation of new human life, and therefore, the rejection of artificial contraception.

Nearly 50 years later, on the evening of July 21, 2018, the Diocese of Madison marked the anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated by Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, and a talk by Dr. Janet Smith, noted writer and speaker on Humanae vitae and related topics.

Dr. Smith is a professor of moral theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Mich.

The event took place at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison.

Mass of Thanksgiving

At the start of the Mass, Bishop Morlino thanked everyone for coming "to participate in faith".

During his homily, he spoke about the weekend's Mass readings on good shepherds and evil shepherds and the people in the Gospel being like "sheep without a shepherd."

He said tragic examples of sheep without a shepherd are in the "incredible increasing amounts of suicides," especially among youth.

"To no longer find joy in life as a gift is certainly to be a sheep without a shepherd," he added, noting the sadness in "people who have given up on life and its goodness because somehow that goodness is hidden from them."

The bishop also cited increasing numbers of women who are driven to suicide, and said when they struggle with that, they may be more likely to use artificial contraception or lose their babies to an abortion.

He added that a woman might find it difficult to bring a child into this world, if she is unable to love her own life.

"We should be grateful for life as a gift from God every second of the day," Bishop Morlino said.

Myths of contraception

Following the Mass, a reception and the talk by Dr. Smith was held in the parish hall.

People from a variety of age groups attended, which prompted Smith to point out that grandparents, many of whom were around when Humane vitae was released, have a responsibility to talk to their grandchildren on these issues.

Smith, who has been speaking on the topic for many years, presented what she called the third edition of her talk, "Contraception: Why Not," called "Contraception -- Cracking the Myths."

The myths in question were those that were presented as advantages of the birth control pill, which grew in use in the 1960s and 1970s.

The myths were: ensuring sexual freedom, advancing happiness, fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer abortions, better marriages, and controlling the population.

She also explained the dangerous chemicals contained in the birth control pill and some of the negative effects they can have on the body and the environment.

"Why are you putting chemicals in your body? It doesn't make any sense," Smith asked rhetorically.

God's plan for love

Smith said that a rising contraceptive mentality has separated the sexual union with the creation of new life.

She said the Church teaches that "sex is for making love and making families" and not just an act of pleasure between two people that has no meaning to it, procreative or otherwise.

On the subject of abortion, Smith said God "wants every child in the world to be born . . . God's a lover," and "he wants every human being to have love."

Almost proposing a challenge, she said, "Your sexuality doesn't belong to you -- your sexuality belongs to your future spouse."

She added there is no greater marriage proposal than for a man or woman to say to their future spouse they want them to be the parent of their children.

Benefits of NFP

Smith concluded her talk outlining the positives of Natural Family Planning (NFP) and not using methods of artificial birth control.

The benefits include: no bad physical side effects, requires mutual sacrifice from both spouses, enhances communication between spouses and strengthens marriages, strengthens a couple's relationship with God, and causes no harm to society.

"Communication is really the most important part of marriage," Smith said. Spouses need to talk about difficult things to make the marriage work.

For more information on Dr. Janet Smith, including her talks and books on Humanae vitae and related issues, go to

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