The Importance of Sexuality

 I.       According to contemporary scientific research, the human person is so
profoundly affected by sexuality that it must be considered as one of the
factors which give to each individual's life the principal traits that
distinguish it. In fact it is from sex that the human person receives the
characteristics which, on the biological, psychological and spiritual
levels, make that person a man or a woman, and thereby largely condition
his or her progress towards maturity and insertion into society. Hence
sexual matters, as is obvious to everyone, today constitute a theme
frequently and openly dealt with in books, reviews, magazines and other
means of social communication .

        In the present period, the corruption of morals has increased, and one of
the most serious indications of this corruption is the unbridled
exaltation of sex. Moreover, through the means of social communication and
through public entertainment this corruption has reached the point of
invading the field of education and of infecting the general mentality.

        In this context certain educators, teachers and moralists have been able
to contribute to a better understanding and integration into life of the
values proper to each of the sexes; on the other hand there are those who
have put forward concepts and modes of behavior which are contrary to the
true moral exigencies of the human person. Some members of the latter
group have even gone so far as to favor a licentious hedonism.

        As a result, in the course of a few years, teachings, moral criteria and
modes of living hitherto faithfully preserved have been very much
unsettled, even among Christians. There are many people today who, being
confronted with widespread opinions opposed to the teaching which they
received from the Church, have come to wonder what must still hold as

The Occasion of this Declaration

II.        The Church cannot remain indifferent to this confusion of minds and
relaxation of morals. It is a question, in fact, of a matter which is of
the utmost importance both for the personal lives of Christians and for
the social life of our time.[1]

        The Bishops are daily led to note the growing difficulties experienced by
the faithful in obtaining knowledge of wholesome moral teaching,
especially in sexual matters, and of the growing difficulties experienced
by pastors in expounding this teaching effectively. The Bishops know that
by their pastoral charge they are called upon to meet the needs of their
faithful in this very serious matter, and important documents dealing with
it have already been published by some of them or by episcopal
conferences. Nevertheless, since the erroneous opinions and resulting
deviations are continuing to spread everywhere, the Sacred Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, by virtue of its function in the universal
Church[2] and by a mandate of the Supreme Pontiff, has judged it necessary
to publish the present Declaration .


The Sources of Moral Knowledge

III.        The people of our time are more and more convinced that the human person's
dignity and vocation demand that they should discover, by the light of
their own intelligence, the values innate in their nature, that they
should ceaselessly develop these values and realize them in their lives,
in order to achieve an ever greater development.

        In moral matters man cannot make value judgments according to his personal
whim: "In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does
not impose on himself, but which holds him to obedience.... For man has in
his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man;
according to it he will be judged."[3]

        Moreover, through His revelation God has made known to us Christians His
plan of salvation, and He has held up to us Christ, the Savior and
Sanctifier, in His teaching and example, as the supreme and immutable Law
of life: "I am the light of the world; anyone who follows Me will not be
walking in the dark, he will have the light of life."[4]

        Therefore there can be no true promotion of man's dignity unless the
essential order of his nature is respected. Of course, in the history of
civilization many of the concrete conditions and needs of human life have
changed and will continue to change. But all evolution of morals and every
type of life must be kept within the limits imposed by the immutable
principles based upon every human person's constitutive elements and
essential relations-- elements and relations which transcend historical

        These fundamental principles, which can be grasped by reason, are
contained in "the Divine Law--eternal, objective and universal- -whereby
God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of
the human community, by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been
made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the
gentle disposition of Divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever
increasingly the unchanging truth."[5] This Divine Law is accessible to
our minds.

The Principles of Morality Are Perennial

IV.        Hence, those many people are in error who today assert that one can find
neither in human nature nor in the revealed law any absolute and immutable
norm to serve for particular actions other than the one which expresses
itself in the general law of charity and respect for human dignity. As a
proof of their assertion they put forward the view that so-called norms of
the natural law or precepts of Sacred Scripture are to be regarded only as
given expressions of a form of particular culture at a certain moment of

        But in fact, Divine Revelation and, in its own proper order, philosophical
wisdom, emphasize the authentic exigencies of human nature. They thereby
necessarily manifest the existence of immutable laws inscribed in the
constitutive elements of human nature and which are revealed to be
identical in all beings endowed with reason.

        Furthermore, Christ instituted His Church as "the pillar and bulwark of
truth."[6] With the Holy Spirit's assistance, she ceaselessly preserves
and transmits without error the truths of the moral order, and she
authentically interprets not only the revealed positive law but "also . .
. those principles of the moral
order which have their origin in human nature itself"[7] and which concern
man's full development and sanctification. Now in fact the Church
throughout her history has always considered a certain number of precepts
of the natural law as having an absolute and immutable value, and in their
transgression she has seen a contradiction of the teaching and spirit of
the Gospel.

The Fundamental Principles of Sexual Morality

V.        Since sexual ethics concern fundamental values of human and Christian
life, this general teaching equally applies to sexual ethics. In this
domain there exist principles and norms which the Church has always
unhesitatingly transmitted as part of her teaching, however much the
opinions and morals of the world may have been opposed to them. These
principles and norms in no way owe their origin to a certain type of
culture, but rather to knowledge of the Divine Law and of human nature.
They therefore cannot be considered as having become out of date or
doubtful under the pretext that a new cultural situation has arisen.

        It is these principles which inspired the exhortations and directives
given by the Second Vatican Council for an education and an organization
of social life taking account of the equal dignity of man and woman while
respecting their difference.[8]

        Speaking of "the sexual nature of man and the human faculty of
procreation," the Council noted that they "wonderfully exceed the
dispositions of lower forms of life."[9] It then took particular care to
expound the principles and criteria which concern human sexuality in
marriage, and which are based upon the finality of the specific function
of sexuality.

        In this regard the Council declares that the moral goodness of the acts
proper to conjugal life, acts which are ordered according to true human
dignity, "does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation
of motives. It must be determined by objective standards. These, based on
the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of
mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love."[10]

        These final words briefly sum up the Council's teaching--more fully
expounded in an earlier part of the same Constitution[11]-- on the
finality of the sexual act and on the principal criterion of its morality:
it is respect for its finality that ensures the moral goodness of this

        This same principle, which the Church holds from Divine Revelation and
from her authentic interpretation of the natural law, is also the basis of
her traditional doctrine, which states that the use of the sexual function
has its true meaning and moral rectitude only in true marriage.[12]

The Limits of this Declaration

VI.        It is not the purpose of the present Declaration to deal with all the
abuses of the sexual faculty, nor with all the elements involved in the
practice of chastity. Its object is rather to repeat the Church's doctrine
on certain particular points, in view of the urgent need to oppose serious
errors and widespread aberrant modes of behavior.


Premarital Relations

VII.        Today there are many who vindicate the right to sexual union before
marriage, at least in those cases where a firm intention to marry and an
affection which is already in some way conjugal in the psychology of the
subjects require this completion, which they judge to be connatural. This
is especially the case when the celebration of the marriage is impeded by
circumstances or when this intimate relationship seems necessary in order
for love to be preserved.

        This opinion is contrary to Christian doctrine, which states that every
genital act must be within the framework of marriage. However firm the
intention of those who practice such premature sexual relations may be,
the fact remains that these relations cannot ensure, in sincerity and
fidelity, the interpersonal relationship between a man and a woman, nor
especially can they protect this relationship from whims and caprices. Now
it is a stable union that Jesus willed, and He restored its original
requirement, beginning with the sexual difference. "Have you not read that
the Creator from the beginning made them male and female and that He said:
This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and
the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body.
So then, what God has united, man must not divide."[13] St. Paul will be
even more explicit when he shows that if unmarried people or widows cannot
live chastely they have no other alternative than the stable union of
marriage: ". . .it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion."[14]
Through marriage, in fact, the love of married people is taken up into
that love which Christ irrevocably has for the Church,[15] while dissolute
sexual union[16] defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit which the Christian
has become. Sexual union therefore is only legitimate if a definitive
community of life has been established between the man and the woman.

        This is what the Church has always understood and taught,[17] and she
finds a profound agreement with her doctrine in men's reflection and in
the lessons of history.

        Experience teaches us that love must find its safeguard in the stability
of marriage, if sexual intercourse is truly to respond to the requirements
of its own finality and to those of human dignity. These requirements call
for a conjugal contract sanctioned and guaranteed by society--a contract
which establishes a state of life of capital importance both for the
exclusive union of the man and the woman and for the good of their family
and of the human community. Most often, in fact, premarital relations
exclude the possibility of children. What is represented to be conjugal
love is not able, as it absolutely should be, to develop into paternal and
maternal love. Or, if it does happen to do so, this will be to the
detriment of the children, who will be deprived of the stable environment
in which they ought to develop in order to find in it the way and the
means of their insertion into society as a whole.

        The consent given by people who wish to be united in marriage must
therefore be manifested externally and in a manner which makes it valid in
the eyes of society. As far as the faithful are concerned, their consent
to the setting up of a community of conjugal life must be expressed
according to the laws of the Church. It is a consent which makes their
marriage a Sacrament of Christ.


VIII.        At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations
in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to
excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they
do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the
moral sense of the Christian people.

        A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals
whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual
development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes,
and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are
definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a
pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

        In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that
their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual
relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to
marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a
solitary life.

        In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with
understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal
difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability
will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which
would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they
would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the
objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an
essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are
condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence
of rejecting God.[18] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit
us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally
responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts
are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.


IX.        The traditional Catholic doctrine that masturbation constitutes a grave
moral disorder is often called into doubt or expressly denied today. It is
said that psychology and sociology show that it is a normal phenomenon of
sexual development, especially among the young. It is stated that there is
real and serious fault only in the measure that the subject deliberately
indulges in solitary pleasure closed in on self ("ipsation"), because in
this case the act would indeed be radically opposed to the loving
communion between persons of different sex which some hold is what is
principally sought in the use of the sexual faculty.

        This opinion is contradictory to the teaching and pastoral practice of the
Catholic Church. Whatever the force of certain arguments of a biological
and philosophical nature, which have sometimes been used by theologians,
in fact both the Magisterium of the Church--in the course of a constant
tradition-- and the moral sense of the faithful have declared without
hesitation that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered
act.[19] The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way,
the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations
essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the
sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship
which realizes "the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation
in the context of true love."[20] All deliberate exercise of sexuality
must be reserved to this regular relationship. Even if it cannot be proved
that Scripture condemns this sin by name, the tradition of the Church has
rightly understood it to be condemned in the New Testament when the latter
speaks of "impurity," "unchasteness" and other vices contrary to chastity
and continence.

        Sociological surveys are able to show the frequency of this disorder
according to the places, populations or circumstances studied. In this way
facts are discovered, but facts do not constitute a criterion for judging
the moral value of human acts.[21] The frequency of the phenomenon in
question is certainly to be linked with man's innate weakness following
original sin; but it is also to be linked with the loss of a sense of God,
with the corruption of morals engendered by the commercialization of vice,
with the unrestrained licentiousness of so many public entertainments and
publications, as well as with the neglect of modesty, which is the
guardian of chastity.

        On the subject of masturbation modern psychology provides much valid and
useful information for formulating a more equitable judgment on moral
responsibility and for orienting pastoral action. Psychology helps one to
see how the immaturity of adolescence (which can sometimes persist after
that age), psychological imbalance or habit can influence behavior,
diminishing the deliberate character of the act and bringing about a
situation whereby subjectively there may not always be serious fault. But
in general, the absence of serious responsibility must not be presumed;
this would be to misunderstand people's moral capacity.

        In the pastoral ministry, in order to form an adequate judgment in
concrete cases, the habitual behavior of people will be considered in its
totality, not only with regard to the individual's practice of charity and
of justice but also with regard to the individual's care in observing the
particular precepts of chastity. In particular, one will have to examine
whether the individual is using the necessary means, both natural and
supernatural, which Christian asceticism from its long experience
recommends for overcoming the passions and progressing in virtue.


Mortal Sin and Immoral Sexual Behavior

X.        The observance of the moral law in the field of sexuality and the practice
of chastity have been considerably endangered, especially among less
fervent Christians, by the current tendency to minimize as far as
possible, when not denying outright, the reality of grave sin, at least in
people's actual lives.

        There are those who go as far as to affirm that mortal sin, which causes
separation from God, only exists in the formal refusal directly opposed to
God's call, or in that selfishness which completely and deliberately
closes itself to the love of neighbor. They say that it is only then that
there comes into play the fundamental option, that is to say the decision
which totally commits the person and which is necessary if mortal sin is
to exist; by this option the person, from the depths of the personality,
takes up or ratifies a fundamental attitude towards God or people. On the
contrary, so-called "peripheral" actions (which, it is said, usually do
not involve decisive choice), do not go so far as to change the
fundamental option, the less so since they often come, as is observed,
from habit. Thus such actions can weaken the fundamental option, but not
to such a degree as to change it completely. Now according to these
authors, a change of the fundamental option towards God less easily comes
about in the field of sexual activity, where a person generally does not
transgress the moral order in a fully deliberate and responsible manner
but rather under the influence of passion, weakness, immaturity, sometimes
even through the illusion of thus showing love for someone else. To these
causes there is often added the pressure of the social environment.

        In reality, it is precisely the fundamental option which in the last
resort defines a person's moral disposition. But it can be completely
changed by particular acts, especially when, as often happens, these have
been prepared for by previous more superficial acts. Whatever the case, it
is wrong to say that particular acts are not enough to constitute mortal

        According to the Church's teaching, mortal sin, which is opposed to God,
does not consist only in formal and direct resistance to the commandment
of charity. It is equally to be found in this opposition to authentic love
which is included in every deliberate transgression, in serious matter, of
each of the moral laws.

        Christ Himself has indicated the double commandment of love as the basis
of the moral life. But on this commandment depends "the whole Law, and the
Prophets also."[22] It therefore includes the other particular precepts.
In fact, to the young man who asked, ". . . what good deed must I do to
possess eternal life?" Jesus replied: ". . . if you wish to enter into
life, keep the commandments.... You must not kill. You must not commit
adultery. You must not steal. You must not bring false witness. Honor
your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbor as yourself."[23]

        A person therefore sins mortally not only when his action comes from
direct contempt for love of God and neighbor, but also when he consciously
and freely, for whatever reason, chooses something which is seriously
disordered. For in this choice, as has been said above, there is already
included contempt for the Divine commandment: the person turns himself
away from God and loses charity. Now according to Christian tradition and
the Church's teaching, and as right reason also recognizes, the moral
order of sexuality involves such high values of human life that every
direct violation of this order is objectively serious.[24]

        It is true that in sins of the sexual order, in view of their kind and
their causes, it more easily happens that free consent is not fully given;
this is a fact which calls for caution in all judgment as to the subject's
responsibility. In this matter it is particularly opportune to recall the
following words of Scripture: "Man looks at appearances but God looks at
the heart."[25] However, although prudence is recommended in judging the
subjective seriousness of a particular sinful act, it in no way follows
that one can hold the view that in the sexual field mortal sins are not

        Pastors of souls must therefore exercise patience and goodness; but they
are not allowed to render God's commandments null, nor to reduce
unreasonably people's responsibility. "To diminish in no way the saving
teaching of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls. But
this must ever be accompanied by patience and goodness, such as the Lord
Himself gave example of in dealing with people. Having come not to condemn
but to save, He was indeed intransigent with evil, but merciful towards

The Scope of the Virtue of Chastity

XI.        As has been said above, the purpose of this Declaration is to draw the
attention of the faithful in present-day circumstances to certain errors
and modes of behavior which they must guard against. The virtue of
chastity, however, is in no way confined solely to avoiding the faults
already listed. It is aimed at attaining higher and more positive goals.
It is a virtue which concerns the whole personality, as regards both
interior and outward behavior.

        Individuals should be endowed with this virtue according to their state in
life: for some it will mean virginity or celibacy consecrated to God,
which is an eminent way of giving oneself more easily to God alone with an
undivided heart.[27] For others it will take the form determined by the
moral law, according to whether they are married or single. But whatever
the state of life, chastity is not simply an external state; it must make
a person's heart pure in accordance with Christ's words: "You have learned
how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a
man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her
in his heart."[28]

        Chastity is included in that continence which St. Paul numbers among the
gifts of the Holy Spirit, while he condemns sensuality as a vice
particularly unworthy of the Christian and one which precludes entry into
the Kingdom of Heaven.[29] "What God wants is for all to be holy. He wants
you to keep away from fornication, and each one of you know how to use the
body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honorable, not giving
way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody
at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters....
We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral. In other words,
anyone who objects is not objecting to a human authority, but to God, Who
gives you His Holy Spirit."[30] "Among you there must not be even a
mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity:
this would hardly become the saints! For you can be quite certain that
nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or
promiscuity--which is worshipping a false god--can inherit anything of the
Kingdom of God. Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is
for this loose living that God's anger comes down on those who rebel
against Him. Make sure that you are not included with them. You were
darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of
light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and
right living and truth."[31]

        In addition, the Apostle points out the specifically Christian motive for
practising chastity when he condemns the sin of fornication not only in
the measure that this action is injurious to one's neighbor or to the
social order but because the fornicator offends against Christ Who has
redeemed him with His blood and of Whom he is a member, and against the
Holy Spirit of Whom he is the temple. "You know, surely, that your bodies
are members making up the body of Christ.... All the other sins are
committed outside the body; but to fornicate is to sin against your own
body. Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you
since you received Him from God. You are not your own property; you have
been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the
glory of God."[32]

        The more the faithful appreciate the value of chastity and its necessary
role in their lives as men and women, the better they will understand, by
a kind of spiritual instinct, its moral requirements and counsels. In the
same way they will know better how to accept and carry out, in a spirit of
docility to the Church's teaching, what an upright conscience dictates in
concrete cases.

Concupiscience, Grace, and the Christian Life

XII.        The Apostle St. Paul describes in vivid terms the painful interior
conflict of the person enslaved to sin: the conflict between "the law of
his mind" and the "law of sin which dwells in his members" and which holds
him captive.[33] But man can achieve liberation from his "body doomed to
death" through the grace of Jesus Christ.[34] This grace is enjoyed by
those who have been justified by it and whom "the law of the spirit of
life in Christ Jesus has set free from the law of sin and death."[35] It
is for this reason that the Apostle adjures them: "That is why you must
not let sin reign in your mortal bodies or command your obedience to
bodily passions."[36]

        This liberation, which fits one to serve God in newness of life, does not
however suppress the concupiscence deriving from original sin, nor the
promptings to evil in this world, which is "in the power of the evil
one."[37] This is why the Apostle exhorts the faithful to overcome
temptations by the power of God[38] and to "stand against the wiles of the
Devil"[39] by faith, watchful prayer[40] and an austerity of life that
brings the body into subjection to the Spirit.[41]

        Living the Christian life by following in the footsteps of Christ requires
that everyone should "deny himself and take up his cross daily,"[42]
sustained by the hope of reward, for "if we have died with Him, we shall
also reign with Him."[43] In accordance with these pressing exhortations,
the faithful of the present time, and indeed today more than ever, must
use the means which have always been recommended by the Church for living
a chaste life. These means are: discipline of the senses and the mind,
watchfulness and prudence in avoiding occasions of sin, the observance of
modesty, moderation in recreation, wholesome pursuits, assiduous prayer
and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.
Young people especially should earnestly foster devotion to the Immaculate
Mother of God, and take as examples the lives of saints and other faithful
people, especially young ones, who excelled in the practice of chastity.

        It is important in particular that everyone should have a high esteem for
the virtue of chastity, its beauty and its power of attraction. This
virtue increases the human person's dignity and enables him to love truly,
disinterestedly, unselfishly and with respect for others.

The Responsibilities of Bishops, Priests, Parents, Artists, and Others

XIII.        It is up to the Bishops to instruct the faithful in the moral teaching
concerning sexual morality, however great may be the difficulties in
carrying out this work in the face of ideas and practices generally
prevailing today. This traditional doctrine must be studied more deeply.
It must be handed on in a way capable of properly enlightening the
consciences of those confronted with new situations and it must be
enriched with a discernment of all the elements that can truthfully and
usefully be brought forward about the meaning and value of human
sexuality. But the principles and norms of moral living reaffirmed in this
Declaration must be faithfully held and taught. It will especially be
necessary to bring the faithful to understand that the Church holds these
principles not as old and inviolable superstitions, nor out of some
Manichaean prejudice, as is often alleged, but rather because she knows
with certainty that they are in complete harmony with the Divine order of
creation and with the spirit of Christ, and therefore also with human

        It is likewise the Bishops' mission to see that a sound doctrine
enlightened by faith and directed by the Magisterium of the Church is
taught in faculties of theology and in seminaries. Bishops must also
ensure that confessors enlighten people's consciences and that
catechetical instruction is given in perfect fidelity to Catholic

        It rests with the Bishops, the priests and their collaborators to alert
the faithful against the erroneous opinions often expressed in books,
reviews and public meetings.

        Parents, in the first place, and also teachers of the young must endeavor
to lead their children and their pupils, by way of a complete education,
to the psychological, emotional and moral maturity befitting their age.
They will therefore prudently give them information suited to their age;
and they will assiduously form their wills in accordance with Christian
morals, not only by advice but above all by the example of their own
lives, relying on God's help, which they will obtain in prayer. They will
likewise protect the young from the many dangers of which they are quite

        Artists, writers and all those who use the means of social communication
should exercise their profession in accordance with their Christian faith
and with a clear awareness of the enormous influence which they can have.
They should remember that "the primacy of the objective moral order must
be regarded as absolute by all,"[44] and that it is wrong for them to give
priority above it to any so-called aesthetic purpose, or to material
advantage or to success. Whether it be a question of artistic or literary
works, public entertainment or providing information, each individual in
his or her own domain must show tact, discretion, moderation and a true
sense of values. In this way, far from adding to the growing
permissiveness of behavior, each individual will contribute towards
controlling it and even towards making the moral climate of society more

        All lay people, for their part, by virtue of their rights and duties in
the work of the apostolate, should endeavor to act in the same way.

        Finally, it is necessary to remind everyone of the words of the Second
Vatican Council: "This Holy Synod likewise affirms that children and young
people have a right to be encouraged to weigh moral values with an upright
conscience, and to embrace them by personal choice, to know and love
more adequately. Hence, it earnestly entreats all who exercise government
over people or preside over the work of education to see that youth is
never deprived of this sacred right."[45]

        At the audience granted on Nov. 7th, 1975, to the undersigned Prefect of
the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Sovereign
Pontiff by Divine Providence Pope Paul VI approved this Declaration "On
certain questions concerning sexual ethics," confirmed it and ordered its
publication .

        Given in Rome, at the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
on Dec. 29th, 1975.

Franjo Card. Seper,
Prefect Most Rev. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Titular Archbishop of Lorium


1. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Church in
the Modern World "Gaudium et Spes," 47 AAS 58 (1966), p. 1067.

2. Cf. Apostolic Constitution "Regimini Ecclesiae Universae," 29 (Aug
15th, 1967) AAS 89 (1967), p. 1067.

3. "Gaudium et Spes," 16 AAS 58 (1966), p. 1037.

4. Jn 8:12.

5. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration "Dignitatis Humanae," 3
AAS 58 (1966), p. 931.

6. I Tim 3:15

7. "Dignitatis Humanae," 14 AAS 58 (1966), p. 940; cf Pius XI, encyclical
letter "Casti Connubii," Dec 31st, 1930 AAS 22 (1930), pp 579-580; Pius
XII, allocution of Nov. 2nd, 1954 AAS 46 (1954), pp 671-672; John XXIII,
encyclical letter "Mater et Magistra," May 15th, 1961 AAS 53 (1961), p.
457; Paul VI, encyclical letter "Humanae Vitae," 4, July 25th, 1968 AAS 60
(1968) p. 483.

8. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration "Gravissimum
Educationis," 1, 8: AAS 58 (1966), pp. 729-730; 734-736 "Gaudium et Spes,"
29, 60, 67 AAS 58 (1966), pp. 1048 1049, 1080-1081, 1088-1089.

9. "Gaudium et Spes," 51 AAS 58 (1966), pp. 1072.

10. Ibid; cf also 49 loc cit, pp. 1069-1070.

11. Ibid, 49, 50 loc cit, pp. 1069-1072.

12. The present Declaration does not go into further detail regarding the
norms of sexual life within marriage; these norms have been clearly taught
in the encyclical letter "Casti Connubii" and "Humanae Vitae."

13. Cf. Mt 19:4-6.

14. I Cor 7:9.

15. Cf. Eph 5:25-32.

16. Sexual intercourse outside marriage is formally condemned I Cor 5:1;
6:9; 7:2; 10:8 Eph. 5:5; I Tim 1:10; Heb 13:4; and with explicit reasons I
Cor 6:12-20.

17. Cf. Innocent IV, letter "Sub catholica professione," March 6th, 1254,
DS 835; Pius II, "Propos damn in Ep Cum sicut accepimus." Nov 13th, 1459,
DS 1367; decrees of the Holy Office, Sept 24th, 1665, DS 2045; March 2nd,
1679, DS 2148 Pius XI, encyclical letter "Casti Connubii," Dec 31st, 1930
AAS 22 (1930), pp. 558 559.

18. Rom 1:24-27 "That is why God left them to their filthy enjoyments and
the practices with which they dishonor their own bodies since they have
given up Divine truth for a lie and have worshipped and served creatures
instead of the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Amen! That is why God has
abandoned them to degrading passions; why their women have turned from
natural intercourse to unnatural practices and why their menfolk have
given up natural intercourse to be consumed with passion for each other,
men doing shameless things with men and getting an appropriate reward for
their perversion" See also what St. Paul says of "masculorum concubitores"
in I Cor 6:10; I Tim 1:10.

19. Cf. Leo IX, letter "Ad splendidum nitentis," in the year 1054 DS
687-688, decree of the Holy Office, March 2nd, 1679: DS 2149; Pius XII,
"Allocutio," Oct 8th, 1953 AAS 45 (1953), pp. 677-678; May 19th, 1956 AAS
48 (1956), pp. 472-473.

20. "Gaudium et Spes," 51 AAS 58 (1966), p. 1072.

21. " sociological surveys are useful for better discovering the
thought patterns of the people of a particular place, the anxieties and
needs of those to whom we proclaim the word of God, and also the
opposition made to it by modern reasoning through the widespread notion
that outside science there exists no legitimate form of knowledge, still
the conclusions drawn from such surveys could not of themselves constitute
a determining criterion of truth," Paul VI, apostolic exhortation "Quinque
iam anni." Dec 8th 1970, AAS 63 (1971), p. 102.

22. Mt 22:38, 40.

23. Mt 19:16-19.

24. Cf. note 17 and 19 above Decree of the Holy Office, March 18th, 1666,
DS 2060; Paul VI, encyclical letter "Humanae Vitae," 13, 14 AAS 60 (1968),
pp. 489-496.

25. Sam 16:7.

26. Paul VI, encyclical letter "HumanaeVitae," 29 AAS 60 (1968), p. 501.

27. Cf. I Cor 7:7, 34; Council of Trent, Session XXIV, can 10 DS 1810;
Second Vatican Council, Constitution "Lumen Gentium," 42 43, 44 AAS 57
(1965), pp. 47-51 Synod of Bishops, "De Sacerdotio Ministeriali," part II,
4, b: AAS 63 (1971), pp. 915-916.

28. Mt 5:28.

29. Cf. Gal 5:19-23; I Cor 6:9-11.

30. I Thess 4:3-8; cf. Col 3:5-7; I Tim 1:10.

31. Eph 5:3-8; cf. 4:18-19.

32. I Cor 6:15, 18-20.

33. Cf. Rom 7:23.

34. Cf. Rom 7:24-25.

35. Cf. Rom 8:2.

36. Rom 6:12.

37. I Jn 5:19.

38. Cf. I Cor 10:13.

39. Eph 6:11.

40. Ct Eph 6:16, 18.

41. Ct I Cor 9:27.

42. Lk 9:23.

43. II Tim 2:11-12.

44. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council decree "Inter Mirifica," 6 AAS 56
(1964), p. 147.

45. "Gravissimum Educationis," 1: AAS 58 (1966), p. 730.

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