Natural Family Planning: CCL’s Student Guide Reviews

On December 16, I did a review of the Couple to Couple League’s new manual, The Art of Natural Family Planning: Student Guide.  In that review I listed the traditional teachings dropped by CCL in this book.  One reviewer below refers to this listing as a summarization.  I also referred to the serious mistake concerning the exclusive breastfeeding rule which could cause unintended pregnancies.  This blog contains three reviews by others.  More will follow next week.

From a long-time CCL member:  I think my views represent a large number of CCL supporters. Your blog of December 16 was good, but the CCL developments are depressing.  The CCL teacher is very articulate and offers valid criticism.
    This blog reminds me of how much I wanted to be a CCL teacher in the late 90s; I wanted to help couples live the fullness of what you and John teach – not only the STM, but the morality and especially the ecological breastfeeding.  All I can think of is that Satan saw an opening here to undermine all that because I can’t wrap my mind around a CCL that would want to throw it all out. 
     The use of the term “watered down” really resonated with me.  I haven’t had time yet to read the whole Student Guide – I guess it depresses me.  Even the cover makes me think of the tacky, glossy new Family Foundations (FF).  It’s nothing like the old FF, which reminded me of a scholarly journal.  Just looking at the format of the old FF made me feel it was trustworthy – not just more info-tainment.  I’m just so disappointed. 
     I thought the couple really captured the truth that the “new” CCL has no intention of teaching the fullness about breastfeeding and natural infertility.  I keep waiting for someone else to notice that.   To the contrary, CCL is teaching that using any sort of “rule” related to achieving breastfeeding infertility is USING the baby. 
    The couple who wrote in should be commended for their thoughtful and honest review.  The holiday FF was full of letters about how great the new changes are and how courageous the current management.  While they may like the simplified STM rules, I miss the comprehensiveness of the old manual.  It was a true resource – you could go back to it year after year.  I looked up stuff in it in every stage of my life in the past decade.  Even after I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks gestation, I referred to it to get spiritual support for the loss and to see what your advice was about how long to wait before trying to conceive again.  I turned to it to explain to people why contraception was wrong – when I was an RCIA sponsor and as an aid to help unmarried people understand.   I gave it to my atheist counterpart at the university when she wondered about the reliability of NFP for health reasons and for natural birth spacing.  It was a true handbook for the full range of physical AND spiritual aspects of marriage from engagement to menopause. 
    Even though I like the NFPI online manual – which if someone wants streamlined info, there it is – I like the big old heavy comprehensive handbook, 4th edition of The Art. Being a collector of “old” materials, I’m sure I’ll start collecting a few copies before they go out of print. I feel like the monks in the Dark Ages, trying to salvage the true writings to save for when the tide of the culture turns and people need to know this stuff that they will have forgotten. 

From a long time CCL Teacher:  The impression I get of the changes at CCL is like what happened after Vatican II in the Church. Under the guise of updating the presentation of the Church’s immutable doctrine to hopefully be more accessible to people today, liberals in the Church went way beyond that and in large part gutted the presentation of the Faith. The “old Faith” was demonized because we absolutely needed a new, modernized approach going forward. Yeah, right.  Some people see this ruse for what it is, but others do not.  I don’t think they really understand and appreciate what is being cast aside, even if inadvertantly. Just like in the Church, many Catholics don’t see a problem with watered-down, Protestantized liturgies, inferior catechesis and gutted church interiors that fail to inspire or lift our hearts to God. And for some Catholics, it would be nearly impossible to explain the problem to them. But for those who understand the issues, it’s quite heart wrenching.
        I thought John’s series of critiques of Fr. Hogan’s booklet was very good and very important. When I first read the booklets, I felt that something needed to be written to address their shortcomings. I’m glad that John started that.

From a CCL Promoter:  Upon receiving and thoroughly reading the Student Guide edition of The Art of Natural Family Planning, I am very concerned about what has been omitted. There is at least one significant error which at this time needs to be corrected. The new presentation is void and incomplete. 
    The December 16, 2007 summarization [previous blog of Dec. 16] of what has been dropped lists precisely what is a cause for concern to those of us who have found those teachings and guidelines necessary for the effective use of Natural Family Planning, spiritual growth and understanding.
    Reading and understanding the summarization helped me realize I was not unfairly judging the new presentation. As I read the Student Guide before reading the December 16, 2007 summarization, I was overwhelmed with sadness to face the fact that far too much of the completeness and charism of the method are missing. What I have known, practiced, and trusted has been dropped.
    At this time, I hope and pray that the CCL Board and Central Office will take the time to prayerfully reconsider the direction they have decided to take. I sincerely hope that a solid core of well informed teachers will come together to continue teaching the complete method and charisms of the founders.
    If anyone reading this knows of anything more that can be done to restore dignity to this situation, please let John and Sheila know what you are thinking.


Sheila:  I thank these reviewers for taking their time for this task.  I checked the new Student Guide only for the breastfeeding section and those traditional teachings dropped as mentioned by the staff at the CCL 2006 Convention.  John has scarcely glanced at the new Art.

Next week: More Student Guide reviews.

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

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