2. A Universal Core of Natural Family Planning Instruction

Your Right to Know: A Universal Core for NFP Instruction (continued from last week)

Speaking of resistance to change, I understand that an American doctor-promoter of Calendar Rhythm went to his death sill believing that nothing more was needed. I am grateful that in 1935 Father Wilhelm Hillebrand used the temperature-based research of Dr. T. H. van de Velde and insisted that an elevated temperature pattern was needed to cross-check the rhythm calculations, thus correcting the weakest part of the Calendar Rhythm system. What motivated Father Hillebrand was not any sort of doctor-based dogma but simply wanting what would best help his parishioners. I think he provides an example for our bishops and priests today.

As reported in my commentary on relative effectiveness, the US Bishops sponsored a scientific study by independent researchers that concluded, “Results of this study show the STM to be superior to the OM of NFP in terms of use-effectiveness.” Then, almost all the couples who had been in the OM side of the study asked to be trained in the STM, and they were trained. It seems to me that the bishops should be making sure that couples today have that same opportunity.

I have no objection whatsoever to a couple choosing to use a single-sign system after they have been adequately taught how to use additional signs in a cross-checking way. That is their right. I insist only that they receive adequate instruction so that they are truly free to choose one way or the other.

We are all familiar with the saying of Jesus in John 8:32, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” While it is certainly true that he was speaking about himself, that latter phrase can also be applied to many areas.

In urging a universal core, I am urging only that these words, “and the truth will make you free” apply to the science and art of natural family planning. Couples deserve to know the full truth so that they can exercise their Christian freedom to choose, among morally valid alternatives, what they believe is best for them and their babies.

Near the top of this commentary, I quoted Luke 11:46: “Woe to you also, scholars of the law, for you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burden with one of your fingers.”

In providing the full truth, bishops and their collaborators certainly will be helping to lift the burden of living the truths affirmed by Humanae Vitae. In fact, great numbers of couples who accept and live out the full truth that includes generosity and ecological breastfeeding will find that the whole package is much more of a blessing than a burden.

John F. Kippley

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