Archive for the ‘CCL’ Category

NFP: Differences between CCL and NFP International

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Differences between NFP International and CCL International

Inquirers have asked us to state the substantive differences between what is taught by Natural Family Planning International and what is currently taught by the Couple to Couple League International.  The differences are clear. 

Background.  We founded both organizations—CCL in 1971 and NFPI in 2004.  We brought to the League in 1971 three charisms or perspectives.  This became known as the Triple Strand approach to teaching NFP.
 1.  We taught ecological breastfeeding as a form of NFP.   
 2.  We taught the biblically based covenant theology of sexuality as a way to support Humanae Vitae and to explain the meaning of the marriage act.  This concept can be stated in 17 words.  “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be at least implicitly a renewal of the marriage covenant.”  This concept easily lends itself to consideration of what is involved when man and wife enter into that covenant.
 3.  We were open to all the signs of fertility and developed different rules for different situations. 
    We directed and guided the League for 32 years.  In late 2003 a separation occurred.  In 2004 the new CCLI management decided to terminate its international activities in languages other than English and Spanish.  Later in 2004 we formed NFP International to support what we had previously started in other European languages and to keep our traditional Triple Strand program alive and well via the internet.  In 2005 we opened the NFPI Website,, and published our online manual titled Natural Family Planning
Changes.  In December, 2007 CCL announced significant changes to the traditional program.  CCL titled its announcement an EXTREME MAKEOVER, and the title reflected the changes it made.
1.  CCL dropped the teaching of ecological breastfeeding as a form of natural family planning. 
   On the contrary, we continue to believe that that eco-breastfeeding definitely IS a form of natural family planning.  We believe that it is God’s own plan for spacing babies and therefore the world’s oldest form of NFP.  We further believe that couples deserve to learn about breastfeeding not only as part of God’s plan for healthy babies and mothers but also as part of his plan for baby care and natural baby spacing.
    We know from scientific studies that eco-breastfeeding DOES space babies IF mothers follow the natural mothering pattern first described in Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: The Ecology of Natural Mothering.  We also know that there are misunderstandings about breastfeeding’s influence on baby spacing.  Therefore we are doing what we can to provide the proper information and practical help.
 a.  The preceding book (classic 1974 Harper & Row edition) has been republished (Lulu, 2008, quality paperback).
 b.  To help mothers better understand more clearly the baby-care behaviors usually necessary to experience breastfeeding’s natural infertility, Sheila has also written The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor (Lulu, 2008). 
 c.  In our NFP manual, Natural Family Planning, a chapter is devoted to ecological breastfeeding, and we teach this material in the NFPI three-meeting course.  

2.  In its “extreme makeover,” CCL dropped the covenant theology of sexuality stated above.  CCL has replaced this with an interpretation of the “Theology of the Body” (TOB) developed by Pope John Paul II between 1979 and 1984.  
    The papal TOB is widely praised and rightly so, but experts recognize that it is huge and difficult to understand.  Our experience is that because the TOB covers so much, it needs careful definition.  Further, unless you are reading the entire Theology of the Body and/or are taking a good course on it, what you hear or learn is someone’s interpretation, not the TOB itself.
    We are pleased to note that when the Pope in 1994 was addressing the laity about the meaning of the marriage act, he incorporated the idea that it ought to be a renewal of the marriage covenant.  “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” (Letter to Families, n.12).
    Our experience is that couples can grasp and understand this basic concept almost intuitively once they hear it.  Therefore, we continue to believe that covenant theology of sexuality provides a succinct and very workable way to support and explain the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

3.  In its “extreme makeover,” CCL dropped the concept of having different rules for different situations.  It has replaced this with what they call a single rule, but its modifications for different situations effectively make it into three rules. 
    We continue to think it is useful to have different rules for different situations. 

4.  Also included in its “extreme makeover” is a different perspective about how to convey the teaching of the Church regarding the proper use of natural family planning.  Humanae Vitae uses “serious reasons” in section 10 and “just causes” in section 16 to describe the qualifying reasons for the morally good use of NFP. 
    The CCL Student Guide mentions only “just reasons.” 
    In NFPI we use the phrase “sufficiently serious reasons,” as we have done for many years, to convey the meaning of both of these sections of Humanae Vitae. 

Cost: The CCL 3-meeting course costs $135.00.  The NFPI 3-meeting course suggested donation is anywhere from $45 to $85–depending on what the teaching couple decides to offer by way of books in addition to the Natural Family Planning manual used at the NFPI classes.  Our pastor wanted us to charge at least $100 or $125 for the classes because that was the cost for other marriage preparation programs in our area.  Sheila didn’t feel right about that amount.  The pastor, Sheila and I settled on $70.00.  At our classes, Sheila and I give each attending couple the NFPI manual, and the BD digital thermometer. 
For further details, see our postings in various categories of blogs (upper right corner of website).

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality

A Breastfeeding Mistake Repeated

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

I have reviewed the breastfeeding information in the new CCL manual, The Art of Natural Family Planning: Student Guide, and it is disappointing.  There are two statements that are seriously incomplete and therefore possibly misleading.
 1) “Some studies show that 97% of mothers who exclusively breastfeed can be assured of postpartum infertility for at least six months” (page 161).
 2)  “Exclusive breastfeeding: Generally, highly infertile during the first six months postpartum” (Reference guide, page 254; italics in the original).
      For “exclusive breastfeeding” to be considered a time of infertility, it is essential that the mother still be in amenorrhea, at least after 56 days postpartum.  Bleeds up to 56 days postpartum are not to be counted as menses.  This “exclusive breastfeeding” rule is often called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).  Amenorrhea means the absence of menstruation.  To repeat, the absence of menstruation is crucial for this method to be highly effective.  Mothers who count on natural infertility for six months may become pregnant while relying on the CCL statement if their menstruation returns before six months while exclusively breastfeeding. 
      On November 7, I wrote CCL for the studies mentioned in the first statement above.  Executive Director Andy Alderson did me the courtesy of a reply on November 14, as follows:  “Sorry for the delayed response.  While I understand your request, I’ve read your ongoing blogs against CCL.  I don’t think it is productive for the League to get into communications with you at this time.”
      I find it regrettable that Mr. Alderson regards our blog exposure of what CCL is doing and saying as being “against CCL.”  Our hope has been that CCL teachers, promoters, and other interested parties will recognize that CCL’s changes are not in the best interests of CCL.  We still hope they will be able to lead CCL’s current management back to its previous and successful path that was helpful to so many. 
      What our blogs are showing is what CCL is doing.  Is what CCL does  going “against CCL?”  Eventually others would have learned what we have exposed and may have blogged on the new changes.  CCL is welcome to present their viewpoint at each blog of ours if they choose to do so.  Of those who have told us they wrote to CCL about their concerns, none have received a reply.

CCL’s definition for exclusive breastfeeding in their new manual is not clear.   Here is the CCL definition: 
“Exclusive breastfeeding is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as the standard of care for babies during their first six months of life.  It is characterized by breastfeeding whenever the baby indicates a desire (day and night) with each feeding fully emptying the breast of milk.  Initially, a minimum of 8-12 feedings per day is required to establish the breastfeeding, with baby kept in close proximity to the mother” (page 154).
      Could a mother believe she is following the requirement for breastfeeding infertility if she nurses according to the definition of exclusive breastfeeding given above?  I certainly think so, so I will call it a “rule.”
      Do you see anywhere in that definition that the baby is to receive only breast milk for its nutrition during the first six months of life?  Could a mother read that definition, believe she is completely nursing and yet think it’s okay to give solids to her baby when her baby is three to five months old?  It looks that way to me.
      Also, nothing is said about the absence of pacifiers or sleeping with the baby or specific behaviors that would help the mother maintain breastfeeding amenorrhea during those first six months postpartum.
      During the mid-60s, as a La Leche League member and later as a LLL leader, I learned that many exclusively breastfeeding mothers have an early return of menstruation or become unexpectedly pregnant during the first six months after childbirth.  I learned that more than just “exclusive breastfeeding” is required to maintain amenorrhea.  If mothers want to have the 97% effectiveness rate (98% by most studies that include amenorrhea in their definition) during the first six months postpartum, they must not have any menstrual bleeding after the 56th day postpartum.  Exclusively breastfeeding mothers can become pregnant during the first six months postpartum if they are having menstrual cycles.
      The point is this.  If a mother does exclusive breastfeeding and hopes that this will give her natural infertility for at least six months, she needs to do more than just not give her baby other liquids or foods.  She needs to follow the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.

Changes by CCL’s new management
We think it is unfortunate that the new CCL management has chosen to delete the major charisms that John and I brought to the League: ecological breastfeeding with its Seven Standards, the covenant theology of human sexuality, and a form of systematic NFP that offered different rules for different situations.  Another change is the dropping of ecological breastfeeding as a baby spacer.  On page 100 of the Student Guide the spacing of children is mentioned three times, but this is attributed to abstinence during the fertile time of the cycle.  In the new CCL manual, the natural spacing of births is not associated with breastfeeding except in the incomplete and misleading statements quoted above.

History Repeats Itself
CCL has previously had these problems with incorrect or inadequate instruction.  I know because in my last three years with CCL, I blew the whistle on mistakes in teacher training and instructional materials, and I received the typical whistleblower treatment.  CCL should have learned from their past mistakes.  Some of CCL’s previous mistakes involved the Lactational Amenorrhea Method.                                                                                                 I regret that I have to bring up this mistake again, but I feel obligated to point this out publicly in the hopes that the word will get out to CCL teachers.  CCL should include a corrections sheet with each manual. 
      All of us in the NFP movement need to be accurate and clear, no matter what rules or method we teach.  I really do wish CCL well, but it needs to get substantive things right the first time when teaching others.

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood and Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book (e-book at this website)

Can a Breastfeeding Mother “Use” Her Baby?

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Is it physically possible for a breastfeeding mother to “use” her baby? Yes. Is it morally right or wrong for a mother to “use” her baby? That depends upon what is meant by “using” another person. There is a good sense and a bad sense to that word. An employer uses other people to accomplish a task. If he pays them fairly, provides a safe working environment, and treats them with the dignity due them as human persons, we say he is using them as members of his extended family in the good sense of the term. On the other hand, if the employer pays the least possible amount, fails to provide a safe working environment and in general uses them not in accord with their dignity as human persons, we say that he is using them in the pejorative or bad sense of that term.
      If a breastfeeding mother is engorged and puts her baby to breast for relief, she is clearly using her baby, but is that wrong? My answer comes later. Again, what if she knows that ecological breastfeeding normally delays the return of fertility for over a year. What if she likes that idea and decides to do ecological breastfeeding for that reason? Is she doing something wrong? Is she “using” her baby in the pejorative sense?
      You may think these are silly or purely speculative questions or even cruel ones since they could lead to scrupulosity among sensitive mothers. But the question of “using” one’s breastfeeding baby has been raised in recent months so it calls for a response.

The Question
Would a mother who chose to breastfeed solely for its baby-spacing effects be “using” her baby in the pejorative sense? The short and simple answer is “Absolutely not,” but something more might be helpful.
      We need to start by recognizing that this is a purely hypothetical question. In real life, it would be impossible, practically speaking, for a woman to have or at least to retain such a narrow reason for breastfeeding. For one thing, breastfeeding has too many advantages or blessings to keep focused on one single benefit. Second, to obtain any significant spacing, the mother would have to do ecological breastfeeding, and it can be demanding.
      Still, one person with a theological background was given this question and replied that “If a woman were breastfeeding with the SOLE or even PRIMARY intent of preventing ovulation, then, yes, she could be using her baby as a means to an end.” That sounds like a pejorative sense of “using.”
      Further, a friend has informed us that in its new teacher training program, the Couple to Couple League has written as follows: “As a matter of fact, if the only goal of breastfeeding is the infertility at the expense of the mother, the baby and/or the family, that could be a ‘use’ of the mother, baby and/or family. And as pointed out in ‘The Human Body,’ we should love people, and use things… not the other way around.” (“The Human Body” is a CCL publication.) The inclusion of “at the expense of the mother, the baby and/or the family” is not helpful for our basic question, but the whole sentence gives the impression that our hypothetical single-focus mother would be “using” in the pejorative sense.
      Let’s look at this in terms of a standard analysis of a human act as we did last week.
There are three factors that constitute the morality of a human act.
1) the thing done,
2) the circumstances, and
3) the intention of the person who acts.

      1) Let us focus on ecological breastfeeding in particular because that’s the only kind that offers extended infertility. In this case, the thing done is a basic human good. It is the form of baby care that gives the baby the best nutrition and nurturing.
      2) The circumstances are such that they do not affect the morality of the action. The mother is able to nurse, and the baby is able to suckle.
      Here we need to address CCL’s inclusion of extraneous circumstances, “at the expense of the mother, the baby and/or the family.” Adding extraneous circumstances completely confuses the issue, whatever it might be. Is it good for a mother to worship at Mass on Sunday for the sole purpose of pleasing God? Of course it is, even if there are also other very good reasons that she might not have in mind on any given Sunday. But now add “if it is done at the expense of a child who is so sick that he needs the full-time presence of his mother.” Clearly, the mother has a primary obligation to care for a desperately sick child, and for her to leave her child under those circumstances would be child abandonment and the wrong thing to do. So when we address the morality of breastfeeding for a single intention, we have to eliminate extraneous circumstances.
      3) The intention is the key issue here. Let’s state the question again and then rephrase it.
      Would a mother who chose to breastfeed solely for its baby-spacing effects be “using” her baby in the pejorative sense?
      In other words, would a mother who chose to breastfeed for the sole purpose of seeking the natural effect that God himself built into the nursing mother-baby ecology be “using” her baby in the pejorative sense? Not at all. She desires a God-given good, and the only way to achieve that good is to let her baby nurse frequently. How can anyone say the she would be “using” her baby in a pejorative sense of the word?

For the sake of argument, one might say that the hypothetical mother with her narrow focus has acted with less than the best intention. To that I would offer two responses. First, let’s assume that’s correct. We are required to act for a good intention, but there is no moral teaching of which I am aware that obliges us to act out of the best intention. That’s a concept that a person might discuss with his or her own spiritual advisor. I have heard of some saints who took a promise always to do the best thing, which I imagine would include or might include always acting for the highest intention, but I believe it would be rash for anyone to do so without good spiritual direction. It would be a recipe for scrupulosity and could tie a sensitive person into knots. Second, in the case at hand, the mother’s intention is to achieve a God-planned effect, not an unnatural effect. What can be wrong with that?

This issue should never be raised in the context of general instruction about breastfeeding because of 1) the risk of causing a scrupulous conscience and 2) the total unreality of the question in real life. In real life, the question would only apply to a mother who did ecological breastfeeding, for that’s the only kind that offers extended natural infertility. And in real life, a mother who started with only that limited intention would either soon stop ecological breastfeeding because of the demands of this form of baby care, or she would expand her horizons as she learned both from her own experience and from others the many other benefits of ecological breastfeeding.

To return to the question of intention, our hypothetical mother who chooses to do ecological breastfeeding only for its baby-spacing effects is not doing anything wrong or sinful. She has chosen to do what is best for her baby by all available measurements. She is simply focusing on one God-given effect instead of the big picture. Her limited intention is a good intention. She is not engaged in any form of contraceptive behavior. She allows her baby to nurse whenever he wants, but she cannot force her baby to nurse. Using a standard moral analysis, I cannot find anything wrong or sinful in the choice to do ecological breastfeeding solely for its baby-spacing effect, hypothetical as such a decision might be.

As far as I am concerned, the only thing wrong in this picture is the suggestion that such a mother may be acting wrongly, “using” her baby in a pejorative sense. That plants the seeds for a scrupulous conscience. In my opinion it is wrong to put into NFP instruction and teacher training such concepts that may lead sensitive moms to wonder, every time they pick up their babies, if they are “using” their babies in some sort of wrongful way.

To return to our opening question, what if a mom is feeling engorged, and she nurses solely, at that moment, for personal comfort? Is she using her baby? Of course she is. Is there anything the least bit wrong with that? Absolutely not. Does she love her baby any less because at that moment she is hoping that he will relieve her engorgement? Of course not. Let us be done with negative talk about “using” a breastfeeding baby.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius)
Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book, a short, free, and readable e-book available at