Translating the Vision Goals into Reality
* At least two-thirds of couples who need baby spacing will be using chaste Natural Family Planning.
In the early 1960s, two-thirds of Catholics still accepted Catholic teaching on birth control, and they had, for the most part, only Calendar Rhythm as a form of NFP. Preparation for marriage is a special time of grace. We believe that the combination of a believing priest, an orthodox and readable text such as Marriage Is for Keeps, and the full NFPI course will yield good results. (The Bishops’ Committee urged a full course, and we thoroughly agree.) We believe that combination will yield good fruit: 25% of newlyweds will accept and follow Catholic teaching on marital love and responsible parenthood; another 25% by their fifth anniversary; another 16% by their tenth anniversary. The contraceptive alternatives to NFP are not all that attractive, and many will not want the extra burden of the abortifacient potential of hormonal birth control. In short, we believe that with the proper information, motivation, and the tools of modern NFP, the Church can achieve at least the level of belief and compliance witnessed in the early 1960s.
* At least two-thirds of Catholic mothers will nurse their babies well into the second year of life.
In 1941 Pope Pius XII urged every mother to breastfeed her baby if at all possible. In 1995, Pope John Paul II repeated this exhortation and urged mothers to continue nursing well into the second year of life. In 1997 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that breastfeeding should “continue for at least 12 months and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.”
NFP International is unique in its research-based advocacy of ecological breastfeeding that, on the average, delays the return of fertility for about 14 to 15 months postpartum. The advantages of ecological breastfeeding are so many that it is a reasonable goal that two-thirds of mothers who learn well about this form of baby care will adopt it.
* At least two-thirds of Catholic newlyweds will wed as virgins.
If virtue-based chastity education is provided at every level of Catholic education, this is a reasonable goal. Young people can understand that sexual intercourse is intended by God to be a renewal of the marriage covenant, and they can understand that the “marriage act” outside of marriage is dishonest.
* At least two-thirds of Catholic voters will vote pro-life.
If two-thirds of Catholics believe and live by the teaching of the Church regarding marital love and chastity and life, they will generally vote pro-life.
* Abortion will be illegal, and even illegal abortions will be few in number.
The pro-life vote of Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, and Orthodox Jews will elect sufficient pro-life representatives that eventually there will be a pro-life majority in the federal court system and on the U. S. Supreme Court. Roe v Wade will be overturned, and pro-life majorities will produce state laws against abortion. The gradual rejection of the Sexual Revolution, on both moral and practical grounds, will greatly reduce the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
* At least 95% of married couples will stayed married “till death do they part.”
Informal studies indicate that the marital breakup NFP Teachers is only 1.5%. While even this is tragic, it is miniscule compared to the 50% American divorce rate. Since this is a special group, a higher rate can be estimated for a larger population. A 5% divorce rate is more than three times what has been witnessed in this small group.
* These families will yield vocations to the priesthood at the rate of at least one ordination per year per 10,000 families. Over 20 years, this yields a ratio of one priest for every 500 families.
The ordinary field for the harvest of vocations is the marriage of Catholics who believe and are generous in the service of life. At an NFP conference, a Catholic deacon noted that among the 250 families at the conference, there were five vocations to the priesthood—one per 50 families.
* At least 95% of priests will be faithful to their vocation for life.
The practice of marital chastity and the covenant theology of human sexuality support celibate priests. The practice of marital virtues helps to build up the body of Christ; priests have stated that the chaste NFP apostolate has been of great help to them as priests.
* A vision of Vatican II will be significantly realized—revitalized lay spirituality and cooperation between priests and laity.
The practice of NFP lets God be God over one’s sex life, and it frequently brings a deep and wide-ranging spirit of conversion. Also, NFPI teachers know first-hand that their work cannot bear fruit without the cooperation of Catholic priests, and Humanae Vitae priests freely acknowledge their need of NFP Teaching Couples.
* The trickle of converts and reverts will become a river.
The teaching of Humanae Vitae is a stepping stone to some while being a stumbling block to others. For a number of converts, the teaching of the Church regarding marriage and the family, including the demands of married love, has been a great attraction to the Church. For some, the covenant theology of sexuality has been the first step on the road to the fullness of the Catholic Faith. As the truth of Humanae Vitae becomes more widely known and practiced, more and more of our good-willed separated brethren will follow this path.
Next week: Participation by any diocese
John F. Kippley (September 2014)