Archive for the ‘Humanae Vitae’ Category

The Chickens Come Home to Roost: Contraception

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

The big news in our Cincinnati neighborhood is that the Catholic girls’ high school just down the street is closing.  After 102 years of educating girls on the west side of Cincinnati, its school population will no longer support this large school.

The official reason is that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati conducted a population survey and concluded that the declining number of students in its feeder schools no longer could support three Catholic girls’ high schools on this side of town, so one of them had to close.  The rationale for selecting our local school for closure has to do with things not relevant to this commentary.

The real reason is Comfortable Catholic Contraception.  Obviously, the local Church has not done a good job of teaching and preaching the truths of Humanae Vitae.  And its failure is not a secret.

In 1978, our oldest daughter was a freshman at this school, so early in the fall we went through the ritual “follow-your-daughter’s-schedule” evening.  When we visited her religion classroom and teacher, I asked this diocesan priest if he would be teaching about Humanae Vitae, and he replied that he would be teaching both sides of the issue.  I asked him if he would make any effort to teach the truths affirmed by the encyclical and to point out the errors of the dissenters.  He replied that he would not.

In 1972, I was teaching theology at a local college that was in the process of changing from all-girls to coed population.  After class one day, a student told me, “Mr. Kippley, you are the first person I have ever heard say a good word about Humanae Vitae.” Now, get the rest of this as she continued.  “In my school the priest came in to talk about it.  He showed us the little encyclical booklet, and then he showed us a stack of books by the dissenters.”  Essentially, he was teaching dissent from Catholic teaching right within that at least nominally Catholic school.

So I asked her where she want to high school, but she wouldn’t say.  “I don’t want you checking up on this, and besides, it wouldn’t make any difference.  I’ve talked with other girls in the dorm and all of them had the same experience.”

This is the situation that Pope John Paul II inherited when he was elected to the papacy in 1978.  For the first ten years of his pontificate, his primary issue was the truth of Humanae Vitae.  He made inroads, but the blockade set by the dissenters, including many priests and Catholic educators, prevented him from having any marked success.  It takes at least 2.1 children per fertile-age woman for any given civilization to survive, and about 2.4 children per married woman.

One of the biggest successes of St. John Paul II occurred in 1989.  In that year a committee of the U.S. Bishops issued a booklet on marriage preparation.  It urged that every engaged couple should be required to attend a full course on natural family planning, but it was mostly ignored.  Twenty years later, only a half dozen dioceses were implementing that recommendation.  It’s about 20 now, still a small fraction of the U.S. dioceses.  So when you see one school after another closing  and then one church after another closing , you really can’t say, “Hey, they put up a good fight but the secular culture was just too strong.”  No, it would be more accurate to say that they didn’t want to put on the gloves, with a few exceptions.

A priest in the Diocese of Peoria was forced by declining population and revenues to close his parish school, but he wasn’t afraid to tell why.  At the parish website, he posted a letter that clearly spelled out that Comfortable Catholic Contraception was the culprit.  When a parishioner strongly objected to the school closing, the pastor asked him how many children he had.  Two.  Case closed.

John F. Kippley

Natural Family Planning and Humanae Vitae: Part 4

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

First, we teach Ecological Breastfeeding because it spaces babies as well as maximizing all the many health benefits of breastfeeding-in-general.

Second, we teach a form of fertility awareness that can be used at the 99% level of effectiveness.  Specifically, we teach how to use the two basic signs of fertility in a crosschecking way for highest confidence and effectiveness.  Unfortunately, most diocesan programs promote the less effective mucus-only systems.  The women who typically run the diocesan NFP effort are frequently mucus-only enthusiasts.  Interestingly, back in the mid-70s, the US Bishops got the NIH to conduct an independent study at a Jewish hospital in Los Angeles.  The results were published in 1981, showing that there were about twice as many unplanned pregnancies in the mucus-only group as in the crosschecking group.  You can find these things at our website.  You think you are frustrated at our bishops?  Think of my frustration when the results of the study they sponsored are ignored in their own diocesan administrations.  By the way, a very recent study confirmed that the mucus sign can be used more effectively when crosschecked by a urine-testing monitor.  It’s a lot simpler to take a morning temperature.

Third, we teach not just fertility awareness but also “meaning awareness.”  By that I mean we teach a very simple theology that can be stated in 17 words.  “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be, at least implicitly, a renewal of the marriage covenant.”  That is, each marriage act ought to be an expression of their wedding pledges of love and faith and commitment, for better and for worse.  “I take you now once again in love and for better and for worse.”

If you believe that, then it is easy to see that when a couple engage in an act of contraceptive intercourse, their body language is saying, “I take you for better but definitely and positively NOT for the imagined worse of possible pregnancy”  So the act is not a renewal of the marriage covenant; it is essentially dishonest.

This concept also helps to explain why the same physical act of coitus is immoral outside of marriage but can be a great good within marriage according to God’s plan.

If we had our way, every young man and woman in the world would recognize the great benefits of breastfeeding-in-general and especially of Ecological Breastfeeding and would act accordingly when they married.  Incidentally, every year new benefits of breastfeeding are published, and my wife reviews them as blogs yearly at our website.  (The next 6 blogs cover the breastfeeding research for last year, 2016.)

If we had our way, young and old alike would believe that sexual intercourse has a God-given meaning, and the vast, vast majority of them would refrain from the dishonesty of sex outside of marriage.  What if that was the belief and practice here in the States?  What would be the economic effect if out-of-wedlock birth rates plummeted from 70% for some groups and 40% for others down to 5% or so?  Local and federal taxpayer support for the children in fatherless homes would plummet accordingly, and so would prison populations as almost every child was brought up in a two-parent family.

In his Farewell Address, George Washington notes that religion and morality are indispensable supports for a prosperous democracy.  Oh how true!

I suggest that you might find our website of interest.  I invite you to return to the full practice of the Faith.

John Kippley,
Natural Family Planning International

Natural Family Planning and Humanae Vitae: Part 3

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

I believe that Humanae Vitae teaches the truth about love, marriage and sexuality because I am convinced that it expresses a Tradition that meets the criteria for infallibility or at least the criteria for a teaching that must be accepted with religious submission of mind and will, according to the teaching of Lumen Gentium 25 especially as repeatedly reaffirmed by St. Pope John Paul II.

I am also convinced by reason that its teaching against marital contraception is true because of theological reasons that are further supported by sociological reasons.  Ask any theist “Who put together in one act what we call making love and making babies?”  The theist has to answer, “God Himself put together in one act what we call making love and making babies.”  Quite obviously, contraceptive behaviors are studied efforts to take apart what God has put together in the extremely important area of love, marriage and sexuality.

Further, I am convinced that what the Lord Jesus taught about marriage also applies to the marriage act.  “What God has put together, let no one take apart.”  That teaching was just as countercultural in his day as it is in ours.

When people tell themselves, either as individuals or as a culture, that we are now so enlightened that we can take apart what God Himself has put together, there is no logical stopping point.  That’s where the West is today.  Modernity accepts only the limitations  of mutual consent and legal age.  In 1930 when the Church of England was debating the acceptance of marital contraception, their conservatives warned them that the acceptance of marital contraception logically entailed the acceptance of sodomy.  The conservatives lost, and so now the Church of England even permits its bishops to live in sodomitic relationships.

Your express great concern over population.  These fears have been part of the public square ever since Thomas Malthus, an economist and Anglican minister, expressed his dire warnings in 1798.  His remedy was complete abstinence once a couple had reached its desired family size.  Just a few years later, the neo-Malthusians dropped the moral convictions of Malthus and recommended contraception.

Some sociologists emphasize two things in reducing the birth rate in any given culture.  First, provide good health care and medical care so that couples do not have to have a large number of babies to insure the survival of just a few.  Second, a rising material standard of living tends to reduce family size.  They look at the West and see these factors as important in declining populations in the West.  I understand that almost every non-Muslim European country has a birth rate below replacement level.

My concern is with the individual family.  We have developed a natural family planning program that addresses the key issues.

John Kippley’s letter continues next week.  Thanks for reading and please come back.