Natural Family Planning and Humanae Vitae in Germany

Ironic Germany: Good Biology but Bad Theology

Our friend’s comments in last week’s blog are even more relevant today than two years ago.  Not only has Amoris Laetitia fulfilled my fears, but Cardinal Kasper has been anointed as the official interpreter of that document.

At the time of Humanae Vitae in 1968, the German bishops became internationally notorious for their lack of support for it.  Thus, most Catholic couples have been living the same contraceptive lifestyles as the completely irreligious and are suffering the same consequences of marital unhappiness, divorce, and remarriage.

The result is not only a tragedy for the Church in terms of the practice of the Faith but also in terms of Church economics.  When non-practicing Catholics no longer check off “Catholic” for the portion of their taxes usually designated for support of their Church, the Church suffers financially.  And those big, empty churches still have to be maintained until they are sold.

There is a special irony in the non-support of Humanae Vitae in Germany—the heartland of research for natural family planning.  In 1930, a German medical journal published an article that laid the foundation for Calendar Rhythm.  In 1934, a German Catholic priest invented the very accurate calendar-temperature method by adding the temperature sign to the calendar calculations.  In 1951, Dr. Jozef Roetzer began to teach a temperature-based method in Austria, and he soon added the mucus observations; by 1965 his Sympto-Thermal work was well recognized in Austria and Germany. In 1967 a German medical journal published an article by Dr. G. K. Doering that showed a 97% effectiveness for the calendar-temperature method and a 99% effectiveness for the temperature-only method.  All of this was taking place while influential German theologians looked for ways to justify unnatural methods of birth control and then persuaded their bishops to ignore Humanae Vitae. 

The liberal theologians congratulate themselves, the people suffer the consequences, and so does the larger Church.

Pope Francis can find better models than the Church in Germany.  I suggest that he look at a place such as the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska which has been famous or infamous for its support of Humanae Vitae. And I am sure there must be a few others, too.

John F. Kippley
Please pray for the Church in Germany and everywhere and come back next week.

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