The Most Rev. Lawrence Persico, bishop of Erie, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass celebrating both the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae and Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. 

     Two events were marked at Mass on Sunday, July 22, at St. Peter Cathedral, Erie. Both the annual celebration of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week and the 50th anniversary of Humane vitae, the 1968 encyclical written by Blessed Pope Paul VI, were observed.

     In his homily, Bishop Lawrence Persico recognized the prophetic work of Blessed Pope Paul VI.

     “Teaching was an element of his ministry that Blessed Paul VI took very seriously, because he recognized that the years of the Second Vatican Council and those immediately following were critical times of ferment and change, not just for the church, but for the entire world,” the bishop said. “He knew the Lord was calling him to shepherd his people rightly.”

     Bishop Persico noted that Humanae vitae remains a prophetic document.
     “In a world that can easily abide on the surface of things,” he said, “Blessed Paul VI teaches us to look deeply into human life, our origin, our fulfillment and our destiny.  In a world that prizes expediency and consumerism (what Pope Francis calls our ‘throw- away culture’) Blessed Paul VI challenges us to cherish the gift of human life.” 

     The bishop also noted that Humane vitae reminds us that the human body has beautiful, God-given worth and wisdom all its own, wisdom that is to be plumbed for its richness and lived with humility and joy. 
     Many families who were in attendance are actively involved with teaching Natural Family Planning, and enjoyed a celebratory lunch together after the Mass.

     The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers an in-depth website about Humane vitae that includes everything from an overview of what the document teaches to prayers and reflections. Find it here: