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.

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

September 7th, 2014

[This presentation in 1979 explains the lack of acceptance of Church teaching on family planning. Interestingly, the problem remains with us today. I do not like long blogs so I will break this material up into a series of 4 blogs. The contributors are John and Cathy Bloodworth, former NFP teachers.]

Concern of the Natural Family Planning Association of Kentucky
Prepared for “Concern 79” Peace and Justice Commission, 1979

Archbishop McDonough, Bishop Maloney, and Members of the Panel,

On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which clarified and reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on birth control. He called for scientists to concentrate their efforts on improving the effectiveness of natural means of spacing children.

In response, the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning evolved and is now generally considered the most reliable means of natural family planning. With proper instruction and motivation, a couple can achieve the same effectiveness as the pill without all the various physical and mental side effects.

However, there is a problem.

A large portion of Catholic couples of child bearing age do not realize or believe that they have a need for a natural means of spacing their children.

The symptom of the problem can be clearly illustrated by the statement that most Catholic couples feel that they have a right to practice whatever means of birth control they feel is best for their family. This attitude is not in accord with the teachings of the Church.

However, it is clear that Catholics have chosen various unapproved methods as evidenced by the two statistical studies attached. These show that as few as 10% of child-bearing Catholic who use a means to avoid having children practice a natural method.

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

Ways to Promote Natural Family Planning

August 31st, 2014

NFPI Brochures: Do you want to promote NFP at your parish or at a conference? Do you want a priest to know more about NFP or the kind of breastfeeding that spaces babies? What about encouraging a friend or a relative to give NFP a try? Go to http://www.nfpandmore.org/brochure.shtml and take your pick of several brochures.

The breastfeeding brochure promotes the benefits of breastfeeding for everyone in the family and mentions the two Popes who supported breastfeeding. This brochure is available In two versions. One shows a Caucasian mother; the other an African-American mother. Both brochures contain the same text.

The natural family planning brochure promotes all the NFP options including ecological breastfeeding and all in the context of Catholic teaching. The text is the same for both brochures, but one is available in black and white text and the other provides graphics. Our pastor felt the black and white text was easier to read, but many prefer the graphics. The brochure with the graphics should be printed on glossy paper.

Hopefully some pastors will allow such brochures to be placed in the back of their Church.

Brochures can be costly. We contacted several sources here and elsewhere. The cheapest price for the graphics brochure was 41 cents when we ordered 500. Also brochures cannot be mailed at book or media rate. These brochures are easily printed. You merely have to fold them and they are ready to be used.

Church Bulletin Announcements: One couple paid $125 for a church bulletin ad for the year and for the Church website. It basically said:

Natural Family Planning
Complete and Convenient
See www.NFPandmore.org
And click on Home Study Course

Another man wanted to do the same in his Church, but the cost was $1645 for an ad the size of a business card for the entire year on the back of a church bulletin. We do not want anyone to pay for such an expense. Instead place an announcement for the Home Study Course in a church bulletin announcement once every month or once every 3 or 6 months to encourage people to make use of the NFPI website or take the Home Study Course. Just use the text above.

Website Promotion: Anyone can join “Google Alert” for any article on “natural family planning” or “ecological breastfeeding.” When such articles arrive, you can post a comment referring readers to the NFPI website. There are Catholic forums and chat rooms where NFP is being discussed or where someone wants information on natural family planning. It only takes a few minutes to refer them to the NFPI website.

Catholic Mothers Nursing League: For those mothers interested in teaching, supporting and promoting ecological breastfeeding in your parish, contact this organization, Catholic Nursing Mothers League. This is an excellent way to support breastfeeding mothers and to teach natural child spacing. Information for conducting a meeting is provided and the organization has its own breastfeeding manual titled Getting Started with Breastfeeding for Catholic Mothers.

Sheila Kippley