Archive for the ‘Abortion-Contraception’ Category

Natural Family Planning: An Opportunity Missed by the Pope

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Airplane interviews: An opportunity to tell the world about natural family planning.

In his trip back to Rome from Mexico on the night of February 17 and early morning of the 18th, Pope Francis was asked about the Zika situation. Here is the question from a Spanish reporter: “As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

For the record, I will quote the Pope’s reply toward the end of this blog, but first I want to write what I wish he had said.

“I’m glad you raised that question. It gives me the opportunity to share with you the great blessings of natural family planning.

First of all, you need to understand that there are only three 100% methods of avoiding pregnancy. Male castration. Female castration. And 100% abstinence from the marriage act.

Second, all forms of hormonal birth control have the potential to cause an early abortion by thinning out the lining of the uterus. That happens when “breakthrough” ovulation occurs, conception takes place, but the newly conceived baby is denied implantation in the uterus and is thus destroyed. Furthermore, the chemicals in the Pill have been classified by the World Health Organization as belonging to the worst class of carcinogens. The epidemic of breast cancer did not “just happen.”

Third, with barrier methods of contraception, it is just a matter of time and frequency before a surprise pregnancy occurs.

That’s why I am happy to tell you about natural family planning. In brief, cross-checking forms of natural family planning can be practiced at the 99% level of effectiveness. Furthermore, when spouses use natural family planning in a very conservative way and engage in the marriage act only during post-ovulation infertility, the surprise pregnancy rate will be even closer to zero.

To be sure, you will say or think, “But that requires self-control. You can’t really expect that of ordinary people.” Well, yes, abstinence is difficult and can even be considered a cross. But isn’t that what Christian discipleship is all about? Of course it is. Hasn’t Jesus told us that if we want to be his disciples we must pick up our cross daily and follow him? I want to call your attention to the second reading at Mass this coming weekend (Feb 20-21). “…many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their belly; their glory is in their shame.”   In other words, St. Paul is telling us, “Don’t be an enemy of the Cross.”

My friends, here’s something else I want you to remember. Animals “have sex.” That’s instinct. But human persons are more than just animals. Only human persons can enter the marriage covenant and pledge lifelong love and fidelity, for better and for worse. When married couples engage in sexual union, they engage in what Christians call the marriage act. As Saint John Paul II taught in his Letter to Families, “In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant.” In other words, their marriage act ought to be a renewal of their marriage covenant, for better and for worse—even for the imagined worse of possible pregnancy. On the other hand, if they use contraception, the body language of their acts clearly says, “I take you for better but definitely NOT for the imagined worse of possible pregnancy. So the contradicts their marriage covenant. It is dishonest.”

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For the record, here is the rest of the relevant transcript.

The Pope replied: “Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

“Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no?  It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.”

JFK: A necessary clarification. For example, a lesser evil can still be a very grave evil. A sanitized murder is a lesser evil than a murder preceded by hours of torture, but it is still a grave moral evil.

Pope Francis concluded his reply this way:

“On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.”

JFK: In my previous blog, I pointed out that there is no valid comparison between the Zika situation and giving nuns in danger of rape a contraceptive. That has a long tradition of such self- defense in Catholic moral theology.

The language of Pope Francis was unclear, but he did NOT say that it is permissible for married couples to use unnatural forms of birth control even though they have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy. Perhaps one reason he was ambiguous about this is that he doesn’t fully understand what God and His Church offer by way of natural family planning.

John F. Kippley, Feb 21, 2016

Natural Family Planning International, www.nfpandmore.org
Sheila and I are trying to do our part. We have made our NFP manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, available to everyone who has access to the Internet. Free for those who call themselves poor. A $10 donation requested for those who can afford it. The complete approach means we teach all the fertility signs, ecological breastfeeding, and Catholic teaching.  For those interested in learning more about NFP, we have an online Home Study Course.

Reaction to Pope’s Comments on Birth Control

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

First of all, I think that almost everyone agrees that abortion is a worse evil than contraception.  I am pleased to see that Pope Francis labeled abortion as an absolute evil.

Second, I don’t think Pope Francis has stated the “Pill and the Congo” case properly.  To the best of my knowledge, Pope Paul VI was not involved in that situation.  I have been told that some ill-informed doctors told the nuns that they could take the Pill to avoid pregnancy stemming from rape.  I say “ill informed” because the Europeans at that time seemed to be quite ignorant about the abortifacient properties of the Pill.  They thought it was only a contraceptive drug.

Third, there is a huge difference between using a contraceptive to prevent pregnancy from rape and using a contraceptive to prevent pregnancy from voluntary intercourse.

Fourth, The Rev. James Bretzke of Boston College is the kind of moral theologian who confuses rather than clarifies.  Humanae Vitae n. 15 allows certain medical procedures that have legitimate therapeutic value  even though they would render the person sterile.  For example, the removal of cancerous ovaries.  In these cases, the intention had to be therapeutic, not contraceptive.  That does not apply to actions whose primary function is to prevent conception, something that could be accomplished by simply (though not easily) not engaging in sexual union.

Fifth, there is not a moral problem of contraception when sodomites use condoms to slow down the transmission of AIDS.  The act is already essentially sterile.   However, the situation is different with heterosexuals.  There the primary action is contraceptive and thus immoral.  However, in both situations, when an infected person has condomized sex with a non-infected person, it’s simply a matter of time until the infection is passed.  Abstinence is the only sure way to protect the health of the non-infected person.  Thus the moral problem is that of a sin against health and life.

Lastly, to speak the divine truth about human love and to point out its counterfeits is not to be obsessed with these issues but simply to bear witness in an evil age.

Please keep praying for Pope Francis, especially that he will give the Church and the world a post-Synod document that will clearly convey the teaching of the Lord and his Church regarding love, marriage and sexuality.

Sixth.  In the light of other comments floating around, I think it can be said that Pope Francis could have and should have used these questions to evangelize the reporters.  He certainly should have pointed out that Humanae Vitae teaches that married couples can use periodic abstinence from the marriage act to avoid pregnancy.  That involves using natural family planning.  He should know and be able to teach that couples can use cross-checking systems of NFP at the 99% level of effectiveness.

Seventh, a good biblical number, he missed an excellent opportunity to remind himself and his audience the most difficult job of the Pope is to affirm the difficult truths, especially those that affect huge numbers of people.  He needs to remind himself and all of us that the entire world stands in the shadow of the cross on which our Savior died.  He needs to teach what Jesus taught—the price of discipleship is to take up one’s cross daily.  Certainly that applies to difficulties associated with love, marriage and sexuality.

John F. Kippley

Natural Family Planning and the Marriage Act

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

The contraceptive culture refuses to acknowledge that in God’s plan, sexual union is intended to be exclusively a marriage act, and that within marriage it ought to be a renewal of the marriage covenant.  That is, it ought to be a recommitment of the love, fidelity and permanence pledged “for better and for worse,” in which it is recognized that “for better and for worse” includes the openness to the imagined “worse” of possible pregnancy.  St. John Paul II had this to say in his 1994 Letter to Families:  “In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant.  The logic of the total gift of self to the other involves a potential openness to procreation: in this way the marriage is called to even greater fulfillment as a family.” (n 12.12)  (emphasis in original)

John F. Kippley