Quotable Statements from Church Documents

Quotes from Sacramentum Caritatis on The Homily
Quotes from Casti Connubii on Birth Control and Sterilization
Statements From Church Documents on the Difficulty of Keeping God's Law


From the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis

The homily

46. Given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved. The homily is "part of the liturgical action" (139), and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful. Hence ordained ministers must "prepare the homily carefully, based on an adequate knowl edge of Sacred Scripture" (140). Generic and abstract homilies should be avoided. In particular, I ask these ministers to preach in such a way that the homily closely relates the proclamation of the word of God to the sacramental celebration (141) and the life of the community, so that the word of God truly becomes the Church's vital nourishment and support (142). The catechetical and paraenetic aim of the homily should not be forgotten. During the course of the liturgical year it is appropriate to offer the faithful, prudently and on the basis of the three-year lectionary, "thematic" homilies treating the great themes of the Christian faith, on the basis of what has been authoritatively proposed by the Magisterium in the four "pillars" of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the recent Compendium, namely: the profession of faith, the celebration of the Christian mystery, life in Christ and Christian prayer (143). 

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Quotes from Casti Connubii

Casti Connubii was a papal encyclical promulgated by Pope Pius XI in 1930. It stressed the sanctity of marriage, prohibited Roman Catholics from using any form of artificial birth control, and reaffirmed the prohibition on abortion. It also explained the authority of Church doctrine on moral matters, and advocated the cooperation of civil governments with the Church.

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56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: "They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.[46]

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68. Finally, that pernicious practice must be condemned which closely touches upon the natural right of man to enter matrimony but affects also in a real way the welfare of the offspring. For there are some who over solicitous for the cause of eugenics, not only give salutary counsel for more certainly procuring the strength and health of the future child - which, indeed, is not contrary to right reason - but put eugenics before aims of a higher order, and by public authority wish to prevent from marrying all those whom, even though naturally fit for marriage, they consider, according to the norms and conjectures of their investigations, would, through hereditary transmission, bring forth defective offspring. And more, they wish to legislate to deprive these of that natural faculty by medical action despite their unwillingness; and this they do not propose as an infliction of grave punishment under the authority of the state for a crime committed, not to prevent future crimes by guilty persons, but against every right and good they wish the civil authority to arrogate to itself a power over a faculty which it never had and can never legitimately possess.

69. Those who act in this way are at fault in losing sight of the fact that the family is more sacred than the State and that men are begotten not for the earth and for time, but for Heaven and eternity. Although often these individuals are to be dissuaded from entering into matrimony, certainly it is wrong to brand men with the stigma of crime because they contract marriage, on the ground that, despite the fact that they are in every respect capable of matrimony, they will give birth only to defective children, even though they use all care and diligence.

70. Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason. St. Thomas teaches this when inquiring whether human judges for the sake of preventing future evils can inflict punishment, he admits that the power indeed exists as regards certain other forms of evil, but justly and properly denies it as regards the maiming of the body. "No one who is guiltless may be punished by a human tribunal either by flogging to death, or mutilation, or by beating."[54]

71. Furthermore, Christian doctrine establishes, and the light of human reason makes it most clear, that private individuals have no other power over the members of their bodies than that which pertains to their natural ends; and they are not free to destroy or mutilate their members, or in any other way render themselves unfit for their natural functions, except when no other provision can be made for the good of the whole body.

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Materials taken from the Vademecum for Confessors Concerning some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life 

Keeping God’s Law is difficult but never impossible 

(25) Cf. John Paul II, Apost. Exhort. Familiaris Consortio, November 22, 1981, n. 13. "Keeping God's law in particular situations can be difficult, extremely difficult, but it is never impossible. This is the constant teaching of the Church's tradition" (John Paul II, Enc. Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993, n. 102).

"It would be a very grave error to conclude that the norm taught by the Church is in itself only an 'ideal' which must then be adapted, put in proportion, aligned, they say, with the concrete possibilities of man, according to a 'weighing of the various goods in question'. But what are the 'concrete possibilities of man?' And of what man are we speaking? Of man dominated by concupiscence or of manredeemed by Christ? For this is the matter under consideration: the reality of the redemption of Christ. Christ has redeemed us! This means: He has given us the possibility of realizing the entiretruth of our being. He has liberated our liberty from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man sins again, that is not due to the imperfection of the redeeming act of Christ, but to the will of man who subtracts himself from the grace gushing out from that act. The commandment of God is certainly proportioned to the capacities of man: but to the capacities of man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given, the man who, if he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Spirit" (John Paul II, Discourse to Participants in a Course on Responsible Procreation, March 1, 1984). 

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