Archive for the ‘Morality’ Category

What Kind of Natural Family Planning is Needed by the Church

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Regarding the Synod and Humanae Vitae, I suspect that there will be a verbal affirmation of the encyclical.  My concern is more about prudence.

A committee of the US Bishops in 1989 urged that every engaged couple should be required to attend a full course on natural family planning as a normal part of preparation for marriage.  But what constitutes a full course?  That is a key question.

In my opinion, couples learning NFP under such circumstances deserve to learn all the common signs of fertility and infertility so that they can make a well informed choice about what signs they want to use or not use.  And that includes ecological breastfeeding according to the seven standards.  How can they make informed choices if this information is not taught?

They also deserve to learn the physiological aspects of NFP in the context of Catholic evangelization and morality and the call to be generous in having children to be raised in the ways of the Lord. In the last analysis, once an “avoiding” couple understand the health hazards and abortifacient properties of hormonal birth control and the esthetic and effectiveness problems of barriers, the moral and practical choice boils down to fertility awareness with either marital chastity or the use of masturbation and/or marital sodomy during the fertile time.  The unchaste behaviors are certainly NOT what is needed or intended by Catholic endorsements of NFP.

It is my understanding that most of the NFP instruction manuals and programs avoid saying anything specific about masturbation and marital sodomy.  We have to assume that many of  our “required” students are unfortunately already experienced in sinful sexual experiences. We have to assume that when they hear “abstinence” many will think of past experience as a way to get around it.  In my opinion, that’s why Catholic-sponsored NFP needs to be taught in the context of Christian discipleship.  

John F. Kippley

2. Natural Family Planning: VISION NOW + 20

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

The Culture of Life if restored in 20 years:

What will you see?

  • At least two-thirds of Catholic couples who need baby spacing will be using chaste Natural Family Planning.
  • At least two-thirds of Catholic mothers will nurse their babies well into the second year of life.
  • At least two-thirds of Catholic newlyweds will wed as virgins
  • At least two-thirds of Catholic voters will vote pro-life.
  • Abortion will be illegal, and even illegal abortions will be miniscule in number.
  • At least 95% of chaste married couples will stay married “till death do they part.”
  • 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 one priest for every 500 families.
  • At least 95% of priests will be faithful to their vocation for life.
  • A vision of Vatican II will be significantly realized—revitalized lay spirituality and cooperation between priests and laity.
  • The trickle of converts and reverts will become a river.

This is the vision—difficult but not impossible. Clearly, it will not “just happen.” To advance from vision to reality requires an organization, a plan, and adequate resources, both spiritual and material.

Next week:  How do we restore this Culture of Life?

John F. Kippley (September 2014)

Natural Family Planning: Should NFP Instruction Include Basic Sexual Morality

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Unchaste behaviors fly in the face of the spirit of practicing chaste NFP, and I make no claims as to the number of couples who practice “NFP” in this way.  It is one thing for a couple to come to an NFP course already motivated to live according to the norms of Catholic teaching.  It is quite something else for a couple to be in such a course solely for pragmatic reasons such as fear of the Pill.  And there is a third group—engaged couples who are there solely to satisfy a diocesan or parish requirement of pre-marriage instruction.  Some of these couples may have been practicing sodomy since high school.  After all, a survey of high school students a few years ago showed that more than half had already experienced “oral sex.”  It is quite probable that when they hear abstinence, they may be thinking sodomy.

My point is that all of these couples will benefit from hearing and seeing a clear statement of Catholic moral teaching that these behaviors are seriously immoral.  Some will just be reaffirmed and others will be challenged, especially if they have at least some desire to walk with the Lord Jesus.  So why not teach these things clearly to everyone in every NFP course?  It only takes a few lines of print and a couple of minutes to make such an affirmation.   Since we can assume that almost everyone today is aware of these perversities, we can also assume that some or many will interpret the omission of such teaching as tacit acceptance.

John F. Kippley