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