Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (Church Bulletin Insert)

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week by Father Mark Watkins, pastor, St. Lawrence Church, Cincinnati

The purpose of NFP Awareness Week is to let all Catholics—and non-Catholics too—know that the Church provides very practical help for couples to live out the teaching of Humanae Vitae.  I hope that it also helps couples to believe and follow its tremendously necessary teaching.

On July 25, 1968 Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical that reaffirmed 2,000 years of Catholic teaching about birth control.  It became controversial simply because it reaffirmed what the Catholic Church has been teaching for some 2,000 years.  Why was that controversial?  Pope Pius XI had done the same thing in 1930, and there was no controversy within the Catholic Church.  Why were things so different 49 years ago?

The controversy was stirred up beginning in 1960 with the introduction of the hormonal birth control drugs.  The manner of operation of chemical birth control was different from the contraceptive devices that were common before then.  Some Catholics argued that Catholic teaching could accept this new mode of birth control because it wasn’t so obviously contraceptive.  (It turned out to be much worse because it affects the lining of the uterus to resist implantation of a newly conceived baby in its embryonic stage.  This is what is called the abortifacient potential of the Pill and other hormonal forms of birth control.)

Pope Paul VI reviewed the arguments of those on both sides of the issue.  He clearly saw that the arguments of those who wanted the Church to accept marital contraception could not say a firm NO to any imaginable form of sexual behavior between consenting adults.  Thus he was obliged by his responsibility as the Supreme Pastor of souls to reaffirm that all unnatural forms of birth control are the grave matter of mortal sin.

He also predicted that the widespread acceptance of marital contraception would have far reaching negative consequences.  For that he was also criticized, but the negative effects have been even worse than he foretold.

Still, some may ask, “Why is there all this fuss about Humanae Vitae and birth control?

The answer is very basic:  What is at stake is the divine truth about human love and your salvation!
(Continued and concluded next week)

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