Is family planning just about limiting number of kids?

Is family planning just about limiting number of kids?

The Catholic Church celebrated 50 years after the landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was written on July 25, 1968. The controversial and much-debated document would continue to guide Catholics on issues like abortion, contraception, and family planning well into the 21st century.

By Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz

Aug. 3, 2018


Before it came to mean something else, the term “responsible parenthood” was first notably used by Blessed Paul VI’s in Humanae Vitae half a century ago to stress that parents indeed have a God-given privilege to raise and educate their children responsibly.

On the golden anniversary of the landmark encyclical of then Pope Paul VI which would definitively reaffirm Catholic teaching on contraception and abortion, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles clarified that being responsible parents is not about limiting the number of offspring.

“Every family plans for their future: when they are ready to have children or when to add more, how they will be raised, where they will be sent to school, how to teach them to pray, where they could go for vacations, how will they manage their finances, etc.,” explained the prelate, who released a CBCP pastoral exhortation in time for the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae on July 25.

‘Contraceptive mentality’

According to Valles, the faithful need to expand their concept of family planning beyond the “avoidance of pregnancy.”

He added: “If family planning is simply reduced to the avoidance of pregnancy, should we be puzzled when some children feel that they are fruits of ‘unwanted pregnancies’? Won’t they feel that their parents love them simply because they have no choice? This is the effect of what we call the ‘contraceptive mentality,’”

Valles, who also marked the 20th year of the CBCP’s Pastoral Letter on the Exploitation of Children: “Welcoming Them for My Sake” (Mt. 18:5) in the same exhortation, said it is part of Filipino culture to welcome life, particularly children.

Embracing life

“It is natural for married Filipino couples to wholeheartedly embrace each child, who is a fruit of their love for each other. Despite the fear and criticism that arise from having big families, we still rejoice at the coming of a child,” he said.

The prelate noted how a Filipino mother when criticized for having five children instead of will ask: “Who among my children should have not been born? What will you do with my ‘excess’ children?”

Written in 1968, Humanae Vitae expounds on Catholic teaching on love between spouses, responsible parenthood, and the rejection of artificial birth control.