Self-Gift: Essays on Humanae Vitae and the Thought of John Paul II
Janet E. Smith has been among the world’s preeminent voices in the study of the issues raised by Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical letter Humanae vitae. Self-Gift: Essays on Humanae Vitae and the Thought of John Paul II presents Smith’s critical collection of essays on the vocation of marriage, human sexuality, contraception, and more. Her groundbreaking scholarship touches on all the areas implicated in Humanae vitae: from natural family planning to parenthood and natural law to personalism. This collection not only includes Smith’s English translation of the encyclical from the original Latin text, but also helpful background on the development and release of this authoritative magisterial document. With a particular emphasis on the personalist and Thomistic philosophy of Pope St. John Paul II and how it illuminates the two-millennia tradition of Catholic teaching on human sexuality, Self-Gift delivers crucial insight into the Creator’s plan for human sexuality and our full flourishing in Christ.
About the author:
Janet E. Smith holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She previously taught for many years at the University of Dallas and the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and The Right to Privacy and the editor of Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader. With Christopher Kaczor, Professor Smith co-authored Life Issues, Medical Choices, Questions and Answers for Catholics. She has edited with Fr. Paul Check Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same Sex Issues. She served three terms as a consulter to the Pontifical Council on the Family and also served as a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission III. She has received two honorary doctorates and several other awards for scholarship and service.
“Janet Smith is one of the most significant—and one of the ablest—defenders of Humanae vitae in the English-speaking world. It is a wonderful resource to have her work on this theme, spanning thirty years, gathered into a single volume. This book is timely, not only because of the fifty-year anniversary of the document, but because the need for a defense that penetrates to the profound anthropological vision at its heart has never been greater.”
—D.C. Schindler, Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, The Catholic University of America
“Even when disagreeing with scholars who criticize or support the teaching of Humanae vitae in ways that differ from her own defense, Smith writes clearly and irenically and helps her readers focus on the deeper issues at stake. An excellent text for advanced undergraduate or seminary courses on marriage or sexual ethics, but scholars too will find much to profit from in these essays.”
—John S. Grabowski, The Catholic University of America
“Students and scholars of all theological persuasions will find these essays to be required reading. Janet E. Smith demonstrates her keen ability to make essential distinctions, elucidate key arguments, and reframe the tired debates that have beset theological thinking since the 1960s.”
—Angela Franks, St. John’s Seminary
“In the wake of the contraceptive revolution the Catholic Church insisted—contra mundum—that contraception is beneath the dignity of the marital embrace. For over a quarter of a century, Janet Smith has been the leading defender of a teaching which was almost everywhere supposed to be wrong. This volume assembles her finest contributions in a magisterial collection which should be of special interest to interdisciplinary readers, especially from the social and cultural sciences. Students and scholars alike will find this a necessary resource to assist the Church as Humanae vitae matures and inevitably suffers new attacks. A masterpiece.”
—Catherine R. Pakaluk
Busch School of Business and Economics, The Catholic University of America