5. Natural Family Planning: Preparation for Marriage and What Couples Have a Right to Know

4.  The call to generosity in having children.  Systematic natural family planning is not “Catholic birth control.”  Please note that first word, “systematic.”  It is necessary to distinguish two entirely different forms of natural family planning.  The oldest is what we call “ecological breastfeeding,” and that form of NFP does not require any sort of justifying reasons.  Breastfeeding infertility is simply a very natural side effect of frequent suckling, and I will describe that later.

True systematic NFP is based on fertility awareness and chaste abstinence during the fertile time.  There are several signs of fertility and infertility.  What are frequently called different methods of NFP are simply different systems of using one or more fertility signs to designate the fertile and infertile times of the female fertility cycle.  The term “Systematic NFP” refers to the different systems of fertility awareness.

Humanae Vitae sections 10 and 16 make it clear that couples need a sufficiently serious reason to use systematic NFP to postpone pregnancy or to limit their family size.  In our NFP text we quote both sections, and we use the term “sufficiently serious” to combine their meanings.  We also quote directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which teaches that spouses have the “duty to make certain that their desire [for spacing or avoidance] is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood” (CCC 2368).

Couples have a need and a right to know the actual teaching of the Church about the call to generosity and the need for a sufficiently serious reason to use systematic NFP.

John F. Kippley
To be continued next week —

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