4. Church Teaching Regarding Natural Family Planning Has Been Ignored. Why?

September 28th, 2014

[Continuation of last week's blog]

Our concern then is how can the contraceptive mentality be overcome? The answer is not easy, to say the least. We feel that the Magisterium has addressed this issue and has emerged with a solid stance via Humanae Vitae.

In summary:

  1. The Problem: many Catholics do not realize or believe that they have a need for a natural method of family planning.
  2. The Symptoms: evidenced by the incorrect attitude espoused by the child-bearing Catholics who feel that they have a “right” to practice child-spacing by whatever means they feel is best.
  3. The Reasons: First, the misuse of the “freedom of conscience” philosophy by many of the clergy and laity; Second, the incorrect assumption by some that the Church’s teachings on contraception will be changed sooner or later.
  4. Contributing Factors: Non-recognition of the problem by the grass roots level of the Church, unintentionally fostering the contraceptive mentality in two ways: First, by contributing to the belief by Catholics that through benign acceptance the grass roots level of the Church condones contraception; Second, by ignoring the issue, creating a void quickly filled with incorrect theology whose acceptance has spread and intensified into overwhelming proportions of today. The result is that Catholics have been unintentionally miseducated at almost every juncture on means of family planning.

It is our hope that at the conclusion of the Decade of the Family in 1990, we all may feel proud and satisfied with the gains made in improving this situation.

Thank you for the opportunity to present this concern to you.
Respectfully submitted.
John and Cathy Bloodworth, Chaircouple
Natural Family Planning Association of KY (1979)

(By John and Cathy Bloodworth in consultation with Rev. Joseph F. Hayden of the Archdiocese of Louisville)

PS:  An update:  Is there something “artificial” about natural family planning?  See John’s response to Cardinal Walter Kasper at Homiletic & Pastoral Review.

3. Church Teaching Regarding Natural Family Planning Has Been Ignored. Why?

September 21st, 2014

[Continuation of last week's blog]

In addition to the two primary reasons, there are several contributing factors which have served to stimulate and intensify the contraceptive mentality.

First, the non-recognition of the presence of this incorrect attitude in the face of the overwhelming evidence of its existence is incorrectly viewed by Catholics. They see it as an indication of benign acceptance of artificial contraception by the Church at the grass roots level.  This non-recognition leads to further problems.

By not responding to the issue, the Church at the grass roots level is allowing an incorrect theology to continue uncorrected. Thus, what was once historically practiced by a few has, over a period of a generation or so, spread and become so accepted that now the great majority believe they have the right to practice what they choose.

The contraceptive mentality has grown by a snow-balling effect. The longer we ignore its presence, the more entrenched it becomes. The more entrenched it becomes, the more cancerous is the effect on the other aspects of marital life.

What then, we may ask, would be the proper response to addressing and overcoming this contraceptive mentality? We feel that the most effective way would be for the grass roots level to convey the teachings of the Magisterium whenever, wherever, and however the issue presents itself. Anything less not only is incorrect, but a disservice to families, the Church, and all of society.

One juncture at which the Church’s teachings could be positively conveyed would be at our Pre-Cana Conference. The most natural time to help young couples would be as they prepare for marriage. It would be an excellent time to share the fullness of the Church’s teachings and to help them form a right conscience regarding family planning.

Another juncture would be in our schools. Do the present school textbooks which touch upon this subject offer the traditional teachings of the Magisterium and present them in a favorable light? Clearly, Catholics, especially the young ones, need to be re-educated on this important issue in accordance with the teaching and attitude of the Magisterium.

As members of the Natural Family Planning Association of Kentucky, we could go on forever about the multitude of benefits of natural methods of family planning and the wisdom of it. After five years of involvement in NFP, we can attest that the natural method has a far more positive effect on marriage than artificial means. Natural family planning has been proven effective and safe. Never before in the history of the Church has it had such a positive alternative to offer its people.

(By John and Cathy Bloodworth in consultation with Rev. Joseph F. Hayden of the Archdiocese of Louisville)

PS:  An update:  Is there something “artificial” about natural family planning?  See John’s response to Cardinal Walter Kasper at Homiletic & Pastoral Review.

2. Church Teaching Regarding Natural Family Planning Has Been Ignored. Why?

September 14th, 2014

[Continuation of last week’s blog]

We feel there are two primary reasons for this incorrect attitude towards birth control.  The first is the incorrect “freedom of conscience” philosophy so prevalent in today’s society. The error in this philosophy is that Catholics have come to believe that they can make a subjective decision strictly on their own.

According to the “Statement on the Formation of Conscience” issued by the Canadian Catholic Conference, “an act of conscience is an individual thing, but it must be based upon certain principles and positions. Therefore, it is up to the individual to acquire the necessary information and attitude in order to make the right decision.” (1) Catholics should be taught to look to the Magisterium for the necessary information they need. It consists of the apostles and their successors, the College of Bishops, united with their head, the Pope.

“If doubt should ever arise, due to a conflict of one person’s views and those of the Magisterium, then the presumption of truth lies with the Magisterium.” (2)

We acknowledge that there is a rightful place for certain degrees of freedom with respect to family decisions concerning “how many” children and “when”. However, the Church’s teaching on the “manner” in which couples are to space their children is clearly defined. Let me quote the National Catechetical Directory for Catholics of the United States: “The Church proclaims the value of the life giving meaning of marital intercourse. It rejects the ideology of artificial contraception. The Church forbids methods of family limitation directed against the life giving meaning of sexual intercourse. It condemns the view that sterilization and artificial contraception are a morally legitimate means of family limitation.” (3)

The second primary reason for the incorrect attitude towards birth control is a false belief by Catholics that the church’s stand on the issue will eventually be changed. A reversal of this fundamental issue would be contrary to the constant tradition of the Church and there is no hint of such a change. In fact, on every suitable occasion, it seems the Church re-affirms the traditional teaching.

(By John and Cathy Bloodworth in consultation with Rev. Joseph F. Hayden of the Archdiocese of Louisville)

1) “Statement on the Formation of Conscience,” L Observatore Roma, January 17, 1974, page 7.
2) Ibid.
3) “Sharing the Faith,” National Catechetical Directory of the United States, 1979. Chapter 5, “Principle Elements of the Christian Message for Catechesis” part H: “The Moral Life,” section 5: Specifics in the Teaching Conference of Catholic Bishops at their November 14-17, 1977 General Meeting. Also approved by the Sacred Congregation of the Clergy, October 20, 1978.