Natural Family Planning: Call to Generosity

Being faithful to Catholic teaching requires us to teach “both this and that.”  Both that NFP is not Catholic birth control and that the Church recognizes the moral correctness of deliberately spacing babies via the practice of chaste abstinence during the fertile time— for sufficiently serious reasons.  Also, teaching Ecological Breastfeeding— which naturally delays the return of fertility for, on average, a two-year spacing of babies without recourse to periodic abstinence— is not only teaching a form of parenting that is eminently health-supporting but also is not a form of contraception in the sense in which that term is used in Humanae Vitae and Catholic moral theology.

In our users’ manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, we present what we think is a faithful approach.  We directly teach, “Systematic NFP is not ‘Catholic Birth Control.’ …Children are gifts from God…”  We note that Genesis 1:28 has not been cancelled.  In a section titled “What does the Catholic Church teach about marriage and having children?” we quote five numbered sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  That includes CCC 2368.  “For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children.  It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.” We also include the beautiful statement made by Pope John Paul II at Mass on the Washington Mall  (Oct 7, 1979).  “Decisions about the number of children and the sacrifices to be made for them must not be  taken only with a view to adding to comfort and preserving peaceful existence….”  And he reminds couples of the values of additional siblings.

Fidelity to Catholic teaching requires that we teach the need for sufficiently serious reasons and the call to generosity.  Fidelity also requires that we teach that practicing chaste NFP for serious reason is not a form of contraception or acting with a “contraceptive mentality.”  And for those couples who have a serious reason to avoid or postpone pregnancy, we are convinced that we should give them sufficient knowledge so that they, not the NFP teacher, can make an informed decision about what signs and system they want to use.

John Kippley


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