Address of Pope Pius XII to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility

The following is my translation of the Address of Pope Pius XII to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, at Naples, France, on 19 May 1956.

Original text in French and Latin from the Vatican website. [1]

[The first section of the Papal Address was given in French.] [2]

1. Vous Nous avez exprimé, Messieurs, le désir de venir Nous présenter vos hommages à l’occasion du deuxième Congrès Mondial de la Fertilité et de la Stérilité, que vous tenez maintenant à Naples. Nous répondons avec empressement à votre souhait et vous disons le plaisir tout particulier, que Nous éprouvons à recevoir un groupe imposant de savants et de praticiens de tant de pays divers. Vous vous apprêtez à étudier un sujet difficile et délicat, parce qu’il concerne l’une des fonctions principales du corps humain et parce que les résultats de vos travaux peuvent entraîner des conséquences lourdes de signification pour la vie de beaucoup d’hommes et l’évolution des sociétés.

1. You have expressed to Us, Gentlemen, the desire to come so that you may present your respects to Us on the occasion of the Second World Congress of Fertility and Sterility, which you are now holding in Naples. We have answered your wishes promptly, and we are telling you the very special pleasure we have in receiving an imposing group of scholars and practitioners from so many different countries. You are about to study a difficult and delicate subject, because it concerns one of the principle functions of the human body, and because the results of your work can lead to consequences of great significance for the lives of many persons and for the evolution of societies.

2. La stérilité conjugale involontaire, à laquelle vous vous proposez de porter remède, fait obstacle à l’obtention de la fin principale du mariage et provoque chez le couple un malaise profond, voilé souvent par une pudeur instinctive, mais dangereux pour la stabilité du mariage lui-même. C’est pourquoi, en face de l’impuissance de la médecine moderne à traiter avec succès bien des cas de ce genre, vous avez formé en 1951 cette « Association internationale de la Fertilité », dont le premier Congrès, tenu à New York en 1953, proposait dans son ordre du jour trois résolutions principales : aider par tous les moyens possibles l’étude et la recherche concernant la fertilité ; promouvoir et répandre cette spécialité chez les médecins, afin qu’un nombre suffisant d’entre eux puisse aider efficacement les couples stériles ; insister pour qu’on crée des cliniques, des services et des centres de fertilité dans les hôpitaux, sous la direction d’un personnel compétent.

2. Involuntary conjugal sterility, for which you propose to provide a remedy, presents and obstacle to obtaining of the principle end of marriage and provokes a profound malaise in the couple, often veiled by an instinctive modesty, but dangerous for the stability of marriage itself. That is why, in the face of the powerlessness of modern medicine to successfully treat many cases of this type, you formed in 1951 this “International Association of Fertility”, whose first Congress, held in New York in 1953, proposed in its agenda three main resolutions: (1) to assist by all possible means the study and research of fertility; (2) to promote and disseminate this specialty among physicians, so that a sufficient number of them may effectively help infertile couples; (3) to insist on the establishment of clinics, services, and fertility centers in hospitals, under the direction of competent personnel.

3. Le présent Congrès répond, comme le précédent, à la volonté de développer au maximum les connaissances que l’on possède, de les répandre parmi les médecins de toutes les parties du monde, de déterminer aussi une coordination des travaux sur certains points, où la convergence des efforts permettra d’obtenir des résultats plus significatifs. Vous entendrez un nombre remarquable de rapports et de communications, qui examinent les facteurs endocriniens et métaboliques de la fertilité et de la stérilité, leurs facteurs professionnels et toxiques, les méthodes nouvelles de diagnostic et de traitement de la stérilité masculine et féminine, le diagnostic de l’ovulation et de la spermatogénèse et le traitement de leurs désordres, la chirurgie de la stérilité. Une série de mémoires considérera aussi les recherches expérimentales menées en cette matière et les problèmes relatifs à l’une des principales fonctions de l’homme Cet ensemble d’études illustre brillamment l’intérêt, que ce Congrès suscite, et la façon dont, de toutes parts, des spécialistes éminents ont voulu apporter leur contribution à l’effort commun.

3. The present Congress, like the preceding one, is a response to the desire to develop and maximize the knowledge we possess, to spread it among physicians in all parts of the world, and to determine a coordination of work on certain points, where the convergence of efforts will permit more significant results. You will hear a remarkable number of reports and papers that examine endocrinal and metabolic factors of fertility and sterility, their occupational and toxicological factors, new methods of diagnosis and treatment for male and female sterility, the diagnosis of ovulation and spermatogenesis, and the treatment of their disorders, surgery for sterility. A series of dissertations will also consider experimental research carried out in this field and the problems relating to one of the principal functions of the human person. This set of studies brilliantly illustrates the interest which this Congress prompts, and all the ways in which eminent specialists have wanted to contribute to the common effort.

4. Il ne Nous appartient pas de porter un jugement sur les aspects proprement techniques de vos travaux ; Nous voudrions par contre envisager brièvement certaines implications morales des questions, que vous abordez du point de vue scientifique.

4. It does not belong to Us to pass judgment on the purely technical aspects of your work. On the other hand, We would like to briefly consider certain moral implications of the questions which you approach from a scientific point of view.

5. Votre Congrès précédent signalait dans sa motion finale que la stérilité conjugale involontaire soulève un problème économique et social de grande importance, qu’elle contribue à l’abaissement de l’indice de fertilité des populations et peut influencer par là la vie et la destinée des peuples. Il arrive parfois que l’on s’attarde à ce point de vue, plus apparent, plus facilement contrôlable. On dira alors qu’il faut promouvoir la natalité pour assurer la vitalité d’une nation, et son expansion dans tous les domaines. Il est vrai qu’une natalité élevée manifeste les énergies créatrices d’un peuple ou d’une famille ; elle illustre le courage des hommes devant la vie, ses risques, ses difficultés ; elle souliligne leur volonté de construire et de progresser. On a raison de relever que l’impossibilité physique d’exercer la paternité et la maternité devient aisément un motif de découragement, de repliement sur soi. La vie, qui souhaitait ardemment se prolonger, se dépasser, retombe, pour ainsi dire, sur elle-même et bien des foyers, hélas, succombent à cette épreuve.

5. Your previous Congress pointed out, in its final motion, that involuntary conjugal sterility raises an economic and social problem of great importance: that it contributes to the lowering of the fertility index of populations, and, in this way, can influence the lives and destinies of peoples. It sometimes happens that one focuses on this point of view, which is more apparent and more easily controlled, so one may say that the birth rate should be promoted in order to ensure the vitality of a nation and its expansion in all domains. It is true that a high birth rate manifests the creative energies of a people or a family. It illustrates the courage of human persons before life, its risks, its difficulties. It underlines their will to build and to progress. It is right to point out that the physical impossibility of exercising paternity and maternity easily becomes a cause of discouragement, of withdrawal into one’s self. Life, which ardently wills to prolong itself, to surpass itself — falls upon itself, so to speak, and many homes, alas, succumb to this ordeal.

6. C’est avec plaisir que Nous voudrions mentionner ici une considération, que vous avez vous-mêmes mise en relief. Il est pleinement vrai que votre zèle à poursuivre des recherches sur la stérilité matrimoniale et les moyens de la vaincre, s’il présente un aspect scientifique digne d’attention, engage aussi de hautes valeurs spirituelles et éthiques, dont on devrait tenir compte. Nous les avons indiquées ci-dessus. Il est profondément humain que les époux voient et trouvent dans leur enfant l’expression véritable et plénière de leur amour réciproque et de leur don mutuel. Il n’est pas difficile de comprendre pourquoi le désir insatisfait de la paternité ou de la maternité est ressenti comme un sacrifice pénible et douloureux par les parents, qu’animent des sentiments nobles et sains. Bien plus, la stérilité involontaire du mariage peut devenir un danger sérieux pour l’union et la stabilité même de la famille.

6. It is with pleasure that We would like to mention here a consideration, which you have highlighted yourself. It is entirely true that your zeal to pursue research on marital infertility and the means to overcome it, if it presents a scientific aspect worthy of attention, also engages high spiritual and ethical values, which should be taken into account. We have indicated these above. It is profoundly human that spouses see and find in their child the true and full expression of their reciprocal love and of their mutual gift. It is not difficult to understand why the unsatisfied desire for paternity or maternity is felt as a painful and sorrowful sacrifice by the parents, who are animated by noble and healthy sentiments. Moreover, the involuntary sterility of marriage can become a serious danger to the union and to the very stability of the family.

7. Mais cet aspect social ne fait en réalité que recouvrir une réalité plus intime et plus grave. Le mariage en effet unit deux personnes dans une communauté de destin, dans leur marche vers la réalisation d’un idéal qui implique, non la plénitude d’un bonheur terrestre, mais la conquête de valeurs spirituelles d’un ordre transcendant, que la Révélation chrétienne en particulier propose dans toute leur grandeur. Cet idéal, les époux le poursuivent ensemble, en se consacrant à l’obtention de la fin première du mariage, la génération et l’éducation des enfants.

7. But this social aspect in fact only conceals a more intimate and more grave reality. Marriage, in fact, unites two persons in a community of destiny, in their march towards the realization of an ideal that implies, not the fullness of an earthly happiness, but the conquest of spiritual values of a transcendent order, that the Christian Revelation, in particular, proposes in all its grandeur. This ideal, the spouses pursue together, by consecrating themselves to obtaining the primary end of the marriage, the generation and education of children.

8. Plusieurs fois déjà Nous avons cru nécessaire de rappeler comment les intentions particulières des conjoints, leur vie commune, leur perfectionnement personnel, ne pouvaient se concevoir que subordonnés au but qui les dépasse, la paternité et la maternité. « Non seulement l’œuvre commune de la vie extérieure, disions-Nous dans une allocution adressée aux sages-femmes le 29 octobre 1951, mais encore tout l’enrichissement personnel, même l’enrichissement intellectuel et spirituel, jusqu’à ce qu’il y a de plus spirituel et profond dans l’amour conjugal comme tel, a été mis par la volonté de la nature et du Créateur au service de la descendance ». (Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XIII pag. 348-349). Tel est l’enseignement constant de l’Église ; elle a rejeté toute conception du mariage qui menacerait de le replier sur lui-même, d’en faire une recherche égoïste de satisfactions affectives et physiques dans l’intérêt des seuls époux.

8. Several times already We believed it necessary to recall why the particular intentions of the spouses, their common life, their personal development, could only be conceived as subordinate to the goal which exceeds them, paternity and maternity. “Not only the common work of exterior life,” We said in an allocution addressed to midwives on October 29, 1951, “but also all personal enrichment, even intellectual and spiritual enrichment, all that is most spiritual and profound in conjugal love as such, has been placed by the will of the Creator and by nature at the service of the posterity”. (Radio Message Discourse, Vol XIII p. 348-349). Such is the constant teaching of the Church. She has rejected every conception of marriage that would threaten to turn it back on itself, to make it a selfish search for emotional and physical satisfaction, in the interests of the spouses alone.

9. Mais l’Église a écarté aussi l’attitude opposée qui prétendrait séparer, dans la génération, l’activité biologique de la relation personnelle des conjoints. L’enfant est le fruit de l’union conjugale, lorsqu’elle s’exprime en plénitude, par la mise en œuvre des fonctions organiques, des émotions sensibles qui y sont liées, de l’amour spirituel et désintéressé qui l’anime ; c’est dans l’unité de cet acte humain que doivent être posées les conditions biologiques de la génération. Jamais il n’est permis de séparer ces divers aspects au point d’exclure positivement soit l’intention procréatrice, soit le rapport conjugal.

9. But the Church has also rejected the opposite attitude which claims to separate, in procreation, the biological activity from the personal relationship of the spouses. The child is the fruit of the conjugal union, when it is expressed in its fullness, by the implementation of the organic functions, the sensitive emotions which are connected to it, with the spiritual and disinterested love which enlivens it. It is within the unity of this human act that the biological conditions of generation must be proposed. It is never permissible to separate these diverse aspects to the point of positively excluding either the procreative intention or the conjugal relationship.

10. La relation, qui unit le père et la mère à leur enfant, prend racine dans le fait organique et plus encore dans la démarche délibérée des époux, qui se livrent l’un à l’autre et dont la volonté de se donner s’épanouit et trouve son aboutissement véritable dans l’être qu’ils mettent au monde. Seule d’ailleurs cette consécration de soi, généreuse dans son principe et ardue dans sa réalisation, par l’acceptation consciente des responsabilités qu’elle comporte, peut garantir que l’œuvre d’éducation des enfants sera poursuivie avec toute le soin, le courage et la patience qu’elle exige. On peut donc affirmer que la fécondité humaine, au delà du plan physique, revêt des aspects moraux essentiels, qu’il faut nécessairement considérer, même lorsqu’on traite le sujet du point de vue médical.

10. The relationship that unites the father and the mother to their child, has its roots in biological facts but even more so in the deliberate advancement of the spouses, who give themselves to each other and whose will to develop flourishes and finds its true end in the being whom they send into the world. Only this self-consecration, generous in principle and difficult in its realization, by the conscious acceptance of the responsibilities it entails, can guarantee that the work of educating children will be pursued with all the care, courage, and patience it requires. It can now be affirmed that human fecundity, beyond the physical realm, has essential moral aspects, which must necessarily be considered, even when the subject is treated from a medical point of view.

11. Il est bien évident que le savant et le médecin, lorsqu’ils abordent un problème de leur spécialité, ont le droit de concentrer leur attention sur ses éléments proprement scientifiques et de le résoudre en fonction de ces seules données. Mais lorsqu’on entre dans la voie des applications pratiques à l’homme, il est impossible de ne pas tenir compte des répercussions que les méthodes proposées auront sur la personne et son destin. La grandeur de l’acte humain consiste précisément à dépasser le moment même où il se pose pour engager toute l’orientation d’une vie, pour l’amener à prendre position vis-à-vis de l’absolu. C’est vrai déjà de l’activité quotidienne : à combien plus forte raison d’un acte qui engage, avec l’amour réciproque des époux, leur avenir et celui de leur descendance.

11. It is quite obvious that the scientist and the doctor, when dealing with a problem of their own specialty, have the right to focus their attention on its strictly scientific elements and to solve it according to these data alone. But when one enters the realm of practical applications to the human person, it is impossible to ignore the repercussions that the proposed methods will have on the person and his destiny. The greatness of the human act consists precisely in going beyond the very moment when it arises, so as to engage the whole orientation of life, to arrive at a position with regard to the absolute. This is already true of daily activity — how much more of an act that engages, with the mutual love of the spouses, their future and that of their posterity!

12. Aussi croyons-Nous qu’il est capital pour vous, Messieurs, de ne pas négliger cette perspective, quand vous considérez les méthodes de fécondation artificielle. Le moyen, par lequel on tend à la production d’une nouvelle vie, prend une signification humaine essentielle, inséparable de la fin que l’on poursuit et susceptible, s’il n’est pas conforme à la réalité des choses et aux lois inscrites dans la nature des êtres, de causer un dommage grave à cette fin même.

12. Therefore, We believe it is important for you, gentlemen, not to neglect this perspective, when you consider the methods of artificial fertilization. The means by which one tends to the production of a new life, takes on an essential human significance, inseparable from the end which one pursues, and susceptible, if it is not in conformity with the reality of things and with the laws inscribed in the nature of beings, to cause serious harm to that very end.

13. Sur ce point également, on Nous a demandé de donner quelques directives. Au sujet des tentatives de fécondation artificielle humaine « in vitro », qu’il Nous suffise d’observer qu’il faut les rejeter comme immorales et absolument illicites. Sur les diverses questions de morale qui se posent à propos de la fécondation artificielle, au sens ordinaire du mot, ou « insémination artificielle », Nous avons déjà exprimé Notre pensée dans un discours adressé aux médecins le 29 septembre 1949 (Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XI, pag. 221 et ss.) ; aussi Nous renvoyons pour le détail à ce que Nous disions alors et Nous Nous limitons ici à répéter le jugement donné pour conclure : « En ce qui touche la fécondation artificielle, non seulement il y a lieu d’être extrêmement réservé, mais il faut absolument l’écarter. En parlant ainsi, on ne proscrit pas nécessairement l’emploi de certains moyens artificiels destinés uniquement soit à faciliter l’acte naturel, soit à faire atteindre sa fin à l’acte naturel normalement accompli ». Mais étant donné que l’usage de la fécondation artificielle s’étend de plus en plus, et afin de corriger quelques opinions erronées qui se répandent au sujet de ce que Nous avons enseigné, Nous y ajoutons ce qui suit :

13. On this point likewise, We were asked to give some directives. On the subject of attempts at human artificial fertilization “in vitro”, it suffices for Us to observe that it must be rejected as immoral and absolutely illicit. On the diverse questions of morality which arise on artificial fertilization, in the ordinary sense of the word, or “artificial insemination,” We have already expressed Our thoughts in a discourse addressed to physicians on September 29, 1949 (Discourse and Radio Message, vol XI, pp. 221 and following). We reaffirm also the specifics of what We were saying then, and We limit Ourselves here to repeat the judgment given at the conclusion: “As regards artificial fertilization, not only is there need to be extremely reserved, but it must be absolutely excluded. In speaking thusly, one does not necessarily proscribe the use of certain artificial means ordered solely either to facilitate the natural act, or to accomplish the end of the natural act performed normally.” But since the use of artificial fertilization is spreading more and more, and in order to correct some erroneous opinions that are spreading about what We have taught, We add the following:

14. La fécondation artificielle dépasse les limites du droit que les époux ont acquis par le contrat matrimonial, à savoir, celui d’exercer pleinement leur capacité sexuelle naturelle dans l’accomplissement naturel de l’acte matrimonial. Le contrat en question ne leur confère pas de droit à la fécondation artificielle, car un tel droit n’est d’aucune façon exprimé dans le droit à l’acte conjugal naturel et ne saurait en être déduit. Encore moins peut-on le faire dériver du droit à l’« enfant », « fin » première du mariage. Le contrat matrimonial ne donne pas ce droit, parce qu’il a pour objet non pas l’« enfant », mais les « actes naturels » qui sont capables d’engendrer une nouvelle vie et destinés à cela. Aussi doit-on dire de la fécondation artificielle qu’elle viole la loi naturelle et qu’elle est contraire au droit et à la morale.

14. Artificial fertilization exceeds the limits of the right that the spouses have acquired by the matrimonial contract, that is, to fully exercise their natural sexual capacity in the natural performance of the matrimonial act. The contract in question does not confer on them the right to artificial fertilization, since such a right is in no way expressed in the right to the natural conjugal act and cannot be inferred from it. Even less so can it be derived from a right to the “child”, as the primary “end” of marriage. The matrimonial contract does not give this right, because its object is not the “child” but the “natural acts” which are capable of generating a new life and which are ordered toward it. It must also be said that artificial fertilization violates the natural law and is contrary to justice and morality.

[The second section of the Papal Address was given in Latin.] [3]

15. Alia nunc occurrit quaestio, ad quam pertractandam magis addecet latinam linguam adhibere.

15. Now another question occurs, for the treatment of which it is more fitting to employ the Latin language.

16. Quemadmodum rationalis animus noster artificiali inseminationi adversatur, ita eadem ethica ratio, a qua agendi norma sumenda est, pariter vetat, quominus humanum semen, peritorum examini subiciendum, masturbationis ope procuretur.

16. Just as our rational mind is opposed to artificial insemination, so the same ethical reasoning, by that norm of behavior which is proposed, altogether prohibits that human semen be procured by means of masturbation, not even so as to be subject to the examination of experts.

17. Hanc agendi rationem attigimus Nostra quoque allocutione coram Urologiae doctoribus coetum participantibus, die VIII mensis Octobris anno MDCCCCLIII prolata, in qua haec habuimus, verba : « Du reste, le St-Office a décidé déjà le 2 août. 1929 (Acta Ap. Sedis, vol., XXI a. 1929, p. 490, II) qu’une « masturbatio directe procurata ut obtineatur sperma » n’est pas licite, ceci quel que soit le but de l’examen » (Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XV, pag. 368).

17. This norm of behavior we likewise mentioned in our Address before the Congress of the Association of Urological Physicians, on the 8th day in the month of October in the year 1953, in which we decided these things, saying: “concerning the rest, the Holy Office has already decided on the 2nd of August, 1929 (Acts of the Apostolic See, vol. 21, year 1929, p. 490, II) that “masturbation directly procured so as to obtain sperm” is not licit, no matter what the purpose of the exam may be. (Address and Radio message, vol. 15, page 368).

18. Cum vero Nobis allatum sit, pravam huiusmodi consuetudinem pluribus in locis invalescere, opportunum ducimus nunc etiam, quae tunc monuimus, commemorare atque iterum inculcare. Si actus huiusmodi ad explendam libidinem ponantur, eos vel ipse naturalis hominis sensus sua sponte respuit, ac multo magis mentis iudicium, quotiescumque rem mature recteque considerat.

18. But when it was reported to us that this depraved mode of behavior had increased greatly in his place, we considered it an opportunity to warn, to recall, and again to instruct, now just as then. If this mode of behavior is being used to satisfy the libido, even the natural sensibility of man, by his own free will, rejects these things, and much more so the judgments of the mind, as often as he considers the matter, maturely and rightly.

19. Iidem actus tamen nunc quoque respuendi sunt, cum graves rationes eos a culpa eximere videntur, uti sunt: remedia us praestanda qui nimia nervorum intentione vel abnormibus animi spasmis laborant; medicis peragenda, ope microscopii, spermatis inspectio, quod venerei vel alius generis morbi bacteriis infectum sit; diversarum partium examen, ex quibus semen ordinarie constat, ut vitalium spermatis elementorum praesentia, numerus, quantitas, forma, vis, habitus aliaque id genus dignoscuntur.

19. Now the same acts ought to be likewise repudiated, even when they are used for grave reasons, which would seem to remove them from culpability: for example, for use as a remedy for those who are troubled by an excess of nervous tension or abnormal outbursts of emotion; for the medical inspection of the sperm, under the power of the microscope, to determine with which venereal or other kinds of bacterial disease it may be infected; for various types of examinations, from which, it is ordinarily agreed, the semen may be diagnosed by the vitality of the sperm, the presence of components, the number, quality, form, strength, and other conditions of that type.

20. Eiusmodi procuratio humani seminis, per masturbationem effecta, ad nihil aliud directe spectat, nisi ad naturalem in homine generandi facultatem plene exercendam; quod quidem plenum exercitium, extra coniugalem copulam peractum, secum fert directum et indebite usurpatum eiusdem facultatis usum. In hoc eiusmodi indebito facultatis usu proprie sita est intrinseca regulae morum violatio. Haudquaquam enim homo ius ullum exercendi facultatem sexualem iam inde habet, quod facultatem eandem a natura recepit.

20. This mode of procuring human seed, by the effect of masturbation, cannot be viewed as anything other than direct, for it is not in accord with nature, in its full exercise of the generative faculty in the human person. Indeed, because this full exercise was done outside of conjugal intercourse, it bears within itself the direct and improper usurpation of the use of this same faculty. In this way, the improper use of this faculty is rightly considered an intrinsic violation of the principles of morality. For by no means does the human person have the right to any exercise of the sexual faculty beyond a certain point, because he received the very same faculty from nature.

21. Homini nempe (secus ac in ceteris animantibus rationis expertibus contingit) ius et potestas utendi atque exercendi eandem facultatem tantummodo in nuptiis valide initis tribuitur, atque in jure matrimoniali continetur, quod ipsis nuptiis traditur et acceptatur. Inde elucet hominem, ob solam hanc causam quod facultatem sexualem a natura recepit, non habere nisi potentiam et ius ad matrimonium ineundum.

21. Certainly, to the human person (aside from other things which pertain also to irrational animals) the right and power for the use and exercise of the same faculty is bestowed only on those who have entered into a valid marriage, and then it is confined to the matrimonial right, as it has been handed down and received with respect to marriage itself. And this shows the human person that the sole reason for which he has received from nature this responsibility, with respect to the sexual faculty, is nothing other than to have the power and right to enter into matrimony.

22. Hoc ius tamen, ad obiectum et ambitum quod attinet, naturae lege, non hominum voluntate discribitur; vi huius legis naturae, homini non competit ius et potestas ad plenum facultatis sexualis exercitium, directe intentum, nisi cum coniugalem copulam exercet ad normam a natura ipsa imperatam atque definitam. Extra hunc naturalem actum, ne in ipso quidem matrimonio jus datur ad sexuali hac facultate plene fruendum. Hi sunt limites, quibus jus, de quo diximus, eiusque exercitium a natura circumscribuntur.

22. Yet this right, which pertains to the object and scope of the natural law, has not been assigned to the will of human persons. By the force of this law of nature, the human person does not possess the right and power to the full exercise of the sexual faculty, directly intended, except when he performs the conjugal act according to the norms defined and imposed by nature itself. Outside of this natural act, it is not even given within the matrimonial right itself to enjoy this sexual faculty fully. These are the limits to the particular right of which we are speaking, and they circumscribe its use according to nature.

23. Ex eo quod plenum sexualis facultatis exercitium hoc absoluto copulae coniugalis limite circumscribitur, eadem facultas intrinsece apta efficitur ad plenum matrimonii naturalem finem assequendum (qui non modo est generatio, sed etiam prolis educatio), atque eius exercitium cum dicto fine colligatur.

23. Consequently, since the full exercise of the sexual faculty is circumscribed within this absolute limit of conjugal intercourse, the same faculty is intrinsically made fit to achieve the fullness of the natural end of matrimony (which is not only the generation, but also the education of offspring), but its exercise must be joined together with said end.

24. Quae cum ita sint, masturbatio omnino est extra memoratam pleni facultatis sexualis exercitii naturalem habilitatem, ideoque etiam extra eius colligationem cum fine a natura ordinato; quamobrem eadem omni iuris titulo caret atque naturae et ethices legibus contraria est, etiamsi inservire intendat utilitati per se iustae nec improbandae.

24. This being so, masturbation is entirely outside of the aforementioned natural capacity of the full exercise of the sexual faculty, and therefore it is also outside that connection to the end ordained by nature. For that same reason, it is deprived of any designation as a right, and also it is contrary to nature and the moral law, even if it is intended to serve a usefulness which is just and not improper.

25. Quae hactenus dicta sunt de intrinseca malitia cuiuslibet pleni usus potentiae generandi extra naturalem coniugalem copulam, valent eodem modo cum agitur de matrimonio iunctis vel de matrimonio solutis, sive plenum exercitium apparatus genitalis fit a viro sive a muliere, sive ab utraque parte simul agente; sive fit tactibus manualibus sive coniugalis copulae interruptione; haec enim semper est actus naturae contrarius atque intrinsece malus.

25. What has been said up to this point concerning the intrinsic evil of any full use of the generative power outside the natural conjugal act applies in the same way when the acts are of married persons or of unmarried persons, whether the full exercise of the genital organs is done by the man or the woman, or by both parties acting together; whether it is done by manual touches or by the interruption of the conjugal act; for this is always an act contrary to nature and intrinsically evil.

[The third and final section of the Papal Address was given in French.] [4]

26. Si la fécondité répond à certaines exigences de l’organisme et satisfait des instincts puissants, elle engage tout de suite, comme Nous l’avons dit, le plan psychologique et moral. L’œuvre de l’éducation dépasse encore par sa portée et ses conséquences celle de la génération. Les échanges d’âme à âme, qui s’opèrent entre les parents et les enfants, avec tout le sérieux, la délicatesse, l’oubli de soi qu’ils requièrent, contraignent bien vite les parents à dépasser le stade de la possession effective pour songer à la destinée personnelle de ceux qui leur sont confiés.

26. If fertility meets certain requirements of the organism and satisfies powerful instincts, it immediately engages, as We have said, the psychological and moral realm. The work of education still exceeds, by its scope and consequences, that of generation. Soul-to-soul exchanges, which take place between parents and children, with all the seriousness, the delicacy, the self-forgetfulness which they require, quickly constrain the parents to move beyond the stage of effective possession, to think of the personal destiny of those entrusted to them.

27. Le plus souvent, quand ils atteignent l’âge adulte, les enfants quittent leur famille, s’en vont au loin pour répondre aux nécessités de la vie ou aux appels d’une vocation plus haute. La pensée de ce détachement normal, si coûteux soit-il pour eux, doit aider les parents à s’élèver vers une conception plus noble de leur mission, vers une vision plus pure de la signification de leurs efforts. Sous peine d’échec au moins partiel, la famille est appelée à s’intégrer dans la société, à élargir le cercle des affections et des intérêts, à orienter ses membres vers des horizons plus larges, pour songer non seulement à eux-mêmes, mais aux tâches de service social.

27. More often than not, when they reach adulthood, children leave their families, go away to respond to the necessities of life or to the calls of a higher vocation. The thought of this normal detachment, which is so expensive for them, should help the parents to rise to a more noble conception of their mission, to a purer vision of the significance of their efforts. Under pain of at least partial failure, the family is called to integrate into society, to widen the circle of affections and interests, to orient its members towards wider horizons, to think not only of themselves, but also of the tasks of social service.

28. L’Église catholique enfin, dépositaire des intentions divines, enseigne la fécondité supérieure des vies entièrement consacrées à Dieu et au prochain. Ici le renoncement entier à la famille doit permettre l’action spirituelle toute désintéressée et procédant non d’une peur quelconque de la vie et de ses engagements, mais de la perception des véritables destinées de l’homme, créé à l’image de Dieu et en quête d’un amour universel, qu’aucun attachement charnel ne vienne limiter. Telle est la plus sublime et la plus enviable fécondité, que l’homme puisse souhaiter, celle qui transcende le plan biologique pour entrer de plain-pied dans celui de l’esprit.

28. Finally, the Catholic Church, the repository of divine intentions, teaches the superior fecundity of lives wholly consecrated to God and neighbor. Here, the complete renunciation of the family is required, so as to allow spiritual action — entirely disinterested and proceeding not from any fear of life or its commitments, but from the perception of the true destiny of humanity, created in the image of God, and in search of a universal love — such that no carnal attachment may stand in the way. Such is the most sublime and the most enviable fecundity that humanity is able to imagine, one which transcends the biological realm, so to enter, in a sense, into the realm of the spirit.

29. Nous ne voulions pas, Messieurs, conclure cette allocution sans ouvrir ces perspectives. À d’aucuns, elles peuvent paraître assez éloignées des objets, qui vous occupent maintenant. Il n’en est rien cependant. Elles seules en effet permettent de situer vos travaux à la place qui leur revient et d’en apercevoir la valeur. Ce que vous souhaitez, ce n’est pas seulement d’augmenter le nombre des hommes, mais d’élever le niveau moral de l’humanité, ses forces bienfaisantes, sa volonté de croître physiquement et spirituellement. Vous voulez rendre une nouvelle ferveur à l’affection de tant d’époux qu’attriste un foyer désert; loin d’entraver leur épanouissement plénier, vous ambitionnez de mettre à leur service tout votre savoir pour que se réveillent en eux ces ressources admirables, que Dieu a cachées au cœur des pères et des mères pour les aider à monter vers Lui, eux-mêmes et toute leur famille.

29. We did not want, gentlemen, to conclude this speech without opening these perspectives. To some, they may seem quite far away from the objectives that now occupy you. It is not so, however. Indeed, these perspectives alone make it possible to situate your works in their proper place and to perceive their value. What you want is not only to increase the number of human persons, but to raise the moral level of humanity, its beneficent forces, its will to grow physically and spiritually. You want to render a new fervor into the affection of so many husbands who are saddened by a deserted home. Far from obstructing their full bloom, you strive to place at your service all your knowledge so as to awaken in them these admirable resources, which God has hidden in the hearts of fathers and mothers to help them ascend to Him, in themselves and with their entire family.

30. Pénétrés d’une telle responsabilité, vous poursuivrez avec une ardeur croissante, Nous osons l’espérer, votre labeur scientifique et les réalisations pratiques, que vous vous proposez. En invoquant sur vous-mêmes, sur vos familles et tous ceux qui vous sont chers, les plus abondantes faveurs divines, Nous vous accordons de tout cœur Notre Bénédiction Apostolique.

30. Struck by such a responsibility, We dare to hope that you will pursue with increasing ardor your scientific labors and the practical achievements, which you propose. By invoking on yourselves, on your families, and on all those who are dear to you, the most abundant divine favors, We bestow upon you, with all our heart, Our Apostolic Blessing.

Pius XII

Typographie Polyglotte Vaticane
Copyright Libreria Editrice Vaticana. [5]

Endnotes
[1] Pope Pius XII, Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, 19 May 1956; original languages are French and Latin.
[2] French translation (first section of speech) done with the help of Google translate and my own (rusty) knowledge of French from my university studies.
[3] Translation of the Latin text (second section of speech) is solely the work of Ronald L. Conte Jr.
[4] French translation (third section of speech) done with the help of Google translate and my own (rusty) knowledge of French from my university studies.
[5] Speeches and Radio Messages of the most holy Pope Pius XII; AAS 48, 1956 (Series II, Vol. XXIII) p. 467-474.

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2 Responses to Address of Pope Pius XII to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility

  1. Matt Z. says:

    Section 22 to 25 Pope Pius explicitly calls unnatural sex acts sins.

    • Ron Conte says:

      And he very clearly rejects the idea that the wife can climax by any means, at any time, as long as the natural marital act occurs in the same context.

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