March 13, 2018

In 1968, Blessed Paul VI released his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae outlining the Catholic Church’s position on human sexuality, love, and family planning. Despite societal pressures, Paul VI reaffirmed the sanctity of life and the procreative nature of marriage through the rejection of the acceptance of artificial contraceptives.

Fifty years later, Paul VI’s writings still echo throughout the Catholic Church. Pope Francis praised Humanae Vitae in 2015 by saying,“I think of Blessed Paul VI in the moment of that challenge of population growth, he had the strength to defend openness to life. He knew the difficulties families experience and that’s why in his encyclical he expressed compassion for specific cases and he taught confessors to be particularly compassionate for particular cases.”

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Catholic University will host a symposium April 4 through 6 to analyze and discuss the legacy of Paul VI’s document and the Church’s teachings on human sexuality, love, and natural family planning. The symposium will feature experts from the sciences, social sciences, history, philosophy, and theology. Speakers will give presentations evaluating the past, reflecting on the present, and considering the future regarding the Church’s vision of marriage, love, and life.

John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology at Catholic University, is one of the presenters scheduled for the three-day symposium. He said the symposium will provide valuable discussion about the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood, which is often rejected and misunderstood.

“Like our Lord Himself, (the Church’s teaching) is often a ‘sign of contradiction,’” said Grabowski. “But to a culture such as ours, deeply wounded by the Sexual Revolution, it charts a path toward encountering God’s mercy and His healing love. This conference offers people an opportunity to rediscover the integral connection between love and life in God’s plan for us.”

Additional speakers and presenters for the conference will include:

  • Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Philadelphia and chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family, and Youth
  • Janet Smith, the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit
  • Patrick Lee, professor of philosophy and the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Chair in Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Teresa Stanton Collett, professor and director of the Pro-Life Center at the University of St. Thomas School of Law
  • Christopher Kaczor, professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University

This symposium is open to the public and will take place from April 4 through 6 in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center Great Rooms. For more information or to register to attend, visit

MEDIA: To schedule an interview or register to attend the conference, contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at or 202-319-5600.