Did Bottle-feeding Increase the Use of Contraception?

Early this summer, a physician who is knowledgeable about natural family planning and its statistics asked this question: Is there any study that shows a connection between bottle-feeding and the acceptance of contraception?

The short answer is that Sheila and I are not aware of any study that attempted to measure that relationship.

A more helpful answer, however, is found in the work of Dr. Otto Schaefer, a physician who worked among the Canadian Eskimos in the 1950s. He went there as an advocate of formulas and bottle-feeding. What he experienced led him to become a champion of the pattern of nursing that we call ecological breastfeeding.   He saw that the birth interval in this culture before the arrival of bottle-feeding was three to four years. With the advent of the trading post and formula and bottles, the babies were coming every year, and the mothers were complaining. In short, he witnessed a very clear example of hyper-fertility caused by the loss of breastfeeding.

This was very similar to the hyper-fertility of the 1950s here in the States. The WWII vets had returned and many wanted nothing more than to get a job, get married and have children. They were soon joined by the veterans of the Korean War (1950-1953). Prosperity was in the air. If formula-feeding made child-rearing much more expensive, so what? And they couldn’t wait to use jar after jar of Gerber-type baby food.

The result among many of these young families was the hyper-fertility of a baby every year. Breastfeeding was so rare in the United States in the Fifties that no one seemed to know that having a baby every year was highly unusual in breastfeeding cultures.

Nor did most married couples of the Fifties and Sixties know much about the first form of systematic natural family planning—Calendar Rhythm. Our landlord told us that he and his wife had practiced the Ogino-Knaus rhythm—they called it the O-K method—during the 1930s with a hundred percent success and three children. But that knowledge seemed to get lost in the postwar years. A great book on Catholic marriage published about 1956 referred to Calendar Rhythm, but instead of giving the formula, the author told couples to see their priest, assuming he would know.

The result was hyper-fertility. Contraception became widely practiced among those who had no moral/religious objections to it, and faithful Catholics and other Christians had large families. But even among the faithful, there were some real questions. A mother of seven who had married right after college was experiencing obvious varicose vein problems. She was about 30 and realized she had another 15 years of fertility; so she asked me, the parish lay evangelist, point blank, “What are we to do?” At that point I didn’t know enough even to give her accurate Calendar-Temperature rhythm rules.

However, there were certainly others who were very clear in saying that they were sure that the Church was going to change its teaching, so they hinted that it was okay to go ahead and use unnatural forms of birth control. Their articles were in periodicals read by Catholics, and their brochures and pamphlets might be found in church literature racks. There was little vocal opposition from the local clergy.

This is the background for my conviction that the demise of breastfeeding and its consequent hyper-fertility played a big role in the acceptance of contraception.

That’s why Sheila and I have always included ecological breastfeeding in our natural family planning instruction. When mothers follow the Seven Standards of ecological breastfeeding, they will experience, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea (no periods). They have a right to know this, and they also have a right to know that without following the seven standards they will most likely have a relatively early return of fertility.

Aside from the extended natural infertility that God Himself built into this pattern of baby-care, there are a plethora of demonstrated health benefits for babies and even for the mothers. In our manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, we list 21 health benefits for babies and 8 for the mothers. It seems to me that everyone who loves mothers and babies would want young couples to know these things. That’s why we think ecological breastfeeding should be incorporated into every church-affiliated NFP program. We don’t think that young people should have to wait for a July freeze in Texas for this information to be made universally available in church-affiliated educational efforts.

Are programs that relate breastfeeding-in-general, commonly called cultural breastfeeding, with delayed fertility really being fair with couples? That was the sort of talk common in the early 1960s before Sheila did her research and published the importance of mother-baby closeness and frequency of nursing. Cultural nursing almost guarantees an early return of fertility.

For accurate information, see www.nfpandmore.org, the manual mentioned above, and especially Sheila’s most recent book, The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor available at that website. Faithful Catholics and other interested parties need and deserve every help they can get in countering the sexual revolution and anti-family propaganda, and this sort of down-to-earth help simply must become a common part of the help that is given.

John F. Kippley, July 19, 2014

 

 

 

Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage

I recently received a notice about a conference dealing with homosexuality and the future of marriage. I did not recognize the named lecturers, so I replied to my source: Who is going to talk about the connection between the acceptance of contraception and the acceptance of sodomy?

In recent discourse about sodomy under the title of “same-sex marriage,” it is common for critics to say that the acceptance of “same-sex marriage” will lead to the destruction of traditional Christian marriage. I have to disagree with them even though we share the same convictions about the immorality of sodomy. It seems to me that the growing societal acceptance (or imposition) of sodomy-as-marriage is more of a sign that modern society and federal judges have already rejected traditional Christian marriage.

Let’s go back a few years. I don’t know when the America anti-sodomy laws were enacted, but it was in 1873 that the Comstock anti-contraception laws were first passed by essentially Protestant state legislatures for a basically Protestant America.   It was exactly 100 years ago in the spring of 1914 that Margaret Sanger began her successful campaign to legalize the sale and distribution of contraceptive devices and information. In the national census for 1910, there was one divorce for every eleven marriages, a divorce rate of 9 percent.   The “philosophy” of Margaret Sanger was that unlimited sex and very small families would yield great family happiness. With the nearly universal acceptance of Sanger’s ideas, today we have a divorce ratio of 1 divorce for every two marriages, a rate of 50%. If we assume that the divorce rate is an indication of marital unhappiness, we can conclude that a 500 percent increase in the divorce rate indicates a very serious increase in marital unhappiness, just the opposite of Sanger’s predictions.

During the next 15 years there was increasing speculation about contraceptive marriage. The so-called progressives were openly advocating deliberately childless marriages for which they even had a special name—companionate marriage. In brief, within a few short years, the societal acceptance of contraception had led to the destruction of the idea of marriage as a divinely instituted and permanent relationship for having children and raising them in the ways of the Lord.

In 1920, the bishops of the Church of England were faced with this growing debate and reaffirmed the Christian Tradition against marital contraception.

In 1929, secular humanist Walter Lippmann wrote that the progressives were following the logic of birth control, not the logic of human nature.

But in 1930 the Anglican bishops folded and accepted marital contraception, thus earning for themselves the distinction of being the first organized Christian communion to accept contraception. In the course of their debate, the more conservative Anglican bishops warned the others that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead logically to the acceptance of sodomy. The history of the Church of England has proved that prediction as all too true. If you want a specific event to mark the start of the sexual revolution, I submit it was the Anglican acceptance of contraception in August 1930.

That was quickly followed by the acceptance of contraception by the Federal Council of Churches in February 1931, which led to the general Protestant acceptance of contraception despite some very strong initial opposition. The introduction of the birth control Pill in 1960 added gasoline to the fire, and the widespread rejection of Humanae Vitae by Catholics starting in 1968 tragically added more fuel to the flames.

Martin Luther was correct when he called the contraceptive sin of Onan a form of sodomy. Further, while every unnatural form of birth control can be called a form of heterosexual sodomy—seeking to make the act just as sterile as homosexual sodomy—some heterosexuals engage in the same anatomical acts as homosexuals as their form of birth control. This acceptance of sodomy by heterosexual couples certainly makes it difficult for them to call “evil” the same sterile acts performed by homosexuals.

In the language of baseball, the acceptance of marital contraception by those who call themselves Christian was strike one against the societal acceptance of Christian marriage.

Strike two against the societal acceptance of Christian marriage was the acceptance of no-fault divorce. Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation on September 5, 1969, making California the first American state to grant no-fault divorces, and by 1985 every state had a no-fault divorce law. As Maggie Gallagher wrote some years ago, in this country, the government won’t let you get married for keeps. Even though both spouses marry with the best intentions and enter a valid, sacramental marriage, if the relationship goes sour and one spouse wants a divorce, there is no legal support for permanence. The one who wants out wins.

To the extent that there is societal acceptance of sodomy as same-sex marriage, that is the third strike against the societal acceptance of the Christian Tradition of marriage as permanent and ordered toward the social purpose of having children as well as the personal hopes of marital happiness. Sodomy has been with us since early biblical times, so why is it having greater acceptance today? I submit that it is because so many of those who call themselves Christian have turned their backs on the demands of Christian married love.

This brings us back to the early years of the Church. From what I can gather, Roman society was as debased as contemporary post-Christian and non-Christian cultures. The witness of our Christian ancestors living chaste and fruitful marriages gradually changed that aspect of the culture.   Those Christians who deplore sodomy but practice contraception are inconsistent. They may be simply ignorant and therefore not hypocritical, but they need the same conversion that they are urging on those with same-sex attractions and behaviors.

The renewal of contemporary and future society is truly dependent, once again, on Catholic leaders and the faithful living the Faith to the full.

 

 

 

 

 

“Chaste” abstinence is key to NFP

Are couples who use systematic “natural family planning” following the chaste-marriage teaching of the Catholic Church? From the available evidence, some are and many are not. The “method” of true systematic NFP is chaste abstinence during the fertile time of the cycle. That is, not only do the couple abstain from full sexual intercourse but they also refrain from masturbation, whether mutual or solitary, and other immoral activities such as oral and anal copulation. In short, they abstain from all orgasmic activity.

It has long been agreed by moral theologians that abstaining married couples can morally engage in romantic activities that do not conclude with orgasm. That, however, is not what is practiced by some or many couples who do “NFP” without chaste abstinence. In a recent discussion about these matters on an NFP email list, several studies were referenced. A 1970 study of temperature-only couples found that almost 90% of the couples had some sexual activity and that in most cases this led to climax. A 1978 study of mucus-only couples found that 70% reached climax during the fertile time. A 1993 study of mucus-plus-temperature couples found that 84% engaged in romantic activity during the fertile time and that 62% reached climax via mutual stimulation, 10% by self-stimulation, and 40% used barrier methods. This is obviously not the chaste abstinence called for by Catholic teaching.

Those studies were of non-American users. Are things different in the United States where only a very small fraction of Catholics are practicing any kind of “NFP”? I have no reason to think American NFP Catholics are more chaste than our international friends. Some years ago I had a phone call from a repentant woman. She and her spouse had been practicing mutual masturbation during the fertile time for eight years, having taken an NFP course that did not teach chaste abstinence.   Last fall a woman wrote in a similar fashion, “Sadly we were trained 23 years ago – that is why I was so shocked to know that we had been doing something wrong for all these years.” As we dialogued, she noted that she thought everyone was acting as they had been doing. Within the last month I have heard from another woman who has been discussing the problem of marital chaste abstinence and is appalled at the lack of support. She listed seven types of responses she had received including “I have sought priests who think I’m crazy for not giving in to contraception.” In context, she was looking for priests who could give her and her spouse some helpful counseling about marital chastity.

How can this happen? How can couples who are of sufficient good faith to attend NFP courses because they want to follow Catholic teaching still think that mutual masturbation and so forth is morally acceptable? Well, I am not going to ignore the strong tendency to rationalization, but in the above cases, these couples were never informed by their NFP course and/or instructor and materials about the demands of chaste married love. Providentially, they had stumbled upon an NFP manual written by my wife and me. Further, some previously unchaste couples have reported that our books helped them to make the decision to become chaste and eventually to promote or teach natural family planning. See Chapter 7 of our current manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. The current problem is that there are widely used NFP books that do not teach morality. They might teach to avoid genital contact, but that can be interpreted in a strictly pragmatic way and says nothing about some of the various activities told to me.

Ultimately, of course, the problem lies with the bishops. Collectively or individually, they could stipulate that any program in any way affiliated with the diocese or a parish simply must teach explicitly against these common sins to which NFP-using couples are tempted. That would have to apply to all teaching manuals as well as to the verbal instruction. It only takes a few lines and a couple minutes. Why don’t they take this simple step?

Can there be anything resembling a New Evangelization without teaching the demands of marital love and chastity and generosity?

I suggest that this is worthy of our prayers as we celebrate Divine Mercy on the Sunday after Easter.

 

John F. Kippley, also at http://www.nfpandmore.org where Sheila blogs weekly

 

 

 

From Sanger to Same-Sex “Marriage”

Have you ever wondered when and how the same-sex-marriage proposition got started?  It was 100 years ago that Margaret Sanger began her literary efforts to promote contraception.  It is clear now that these efforts prepared the way for the contemporary societal acceptance of sodomy under its current euphemism of same-sex marriage.

It was in 1914 the Sanger started her own paper, The Rebel Woman, and began to circulate it via the U. S. Postal system.  This brought her into conflict with the existing obscenity laws, and in August she was arrested and given six weeks to prepare her defense.  Instead, she wrote a book on contraception and fled to England where she imbibed more of the evil philosophy of Havelock Ellis who publicly advocated for the societal acceptance of contraception, masturbation, and sodomy.  That’s  When and How the idea of same-sex “marriage” was conceived although not yet explicitly proposed.  Sanger returned to the States in 1916, eventually went to trial, received a very short sentence, and successfully used the legal proceedings as free publicity for her cause.

The promotional work of Ellis in England and Sanger in the United States led to much discussion in the 1920s about the social effects of accepting contraception.  One such idea was “companionate marriage” — legal marriage, deliberate childlessness via contraception, divorce for any reason, and remarriage.  The reformers considered the cycle of divorce and remarriage to be social progress, but they did have a proviso.  If the partners have a contraceptive failure, they must remain together for the sake of the child.

Secular humanist Walter Lippmann brought a critical eye to these developments in his 1929 book, A Preface to Morals.  He did not disagree with the basic argument against unlimited family size, but he found fault with the way the argument was advanced.  He saw that it was folly to argue that this information could be kept to married couples because human curiosity would make certain that everybody would soon know it.  “Now this is what the Christian churches, especially the Roman Catholic, which oppose contraception on principle instantly recognized.  They were quite right.  They were quite right, too, in recognizing that whether or not birth control is eugenic, hygienic, and economic, it is the most revolutionary practice in the history of human morals (1999 printing, 291, emphasis added).

He then summarized his review of the sex talk of the Twenties in this way.  “What has happened, I believe, is what so often happens in the first enthusiasm for a revolutionary invention.  Its possibilities are so dazzling that men forget that inventions belong to man and not man to his inventions.  In the discussion which has ensued since birth control became generally feasible, the central confusion has  been that the reformers have tried to fix their sexual ideals in accordance with the logic of  birth control instead of the logic of human nature” (306, emphasis added).  How sadly true.

That was 1929.  The very next year, the bishops of the Church of England debated the marital contraception issue.  One of their retired members, Bishop Charles Gore, a leader of the “conservative” group, argued that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead logically to the acceptance of sodomy.  Despite this clear warning, the Church of England formally accepted marital contraception in August 1930 although with some reservation.  The Church of England thus became the first organized religious body calling itself Christian to accept the practice of marital contraception.  In my opinion, this was even more important than the efforts of Margaret Sanger in explaining the acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control by Christians whose churches had previously condemned it.  By 1958 the Anglican bishops were openly advocating marital contraception, and early in the 21st century they were accepting sodomy even by their own married bishops.  Ellis and Sanger had replaced Genesis and Romans.

The bottom line is this:  Once you accept marital contraception as a matter of principle, there is no logical way to say NO to heterosexual sodomy within marriage, and there is also no logical way to say NO to same-sex sodomy and even its masquerade as same-sex “marriage.”  As Professor Raymond Dennehy of the University of San Francisco wrote some years ago, once you accept contraception, “any orifice will do.”

Martin Luther was correct when, in his commentary on the Sin of Onan, he called the contraceptive sin of withdrawal a form of sodomy.  That applies to all unnatural forms of birth control.  Thus it is not surprising that huge numbers of contracepting couples who call themselves Christian see nothing wrong with same-sex “marriage.”  It’s hard to call wrong what you yourself are doing in your own marriage.

When married couples engage in mutual masturbation, that’s a form of marital sodomy.  That also applies to oral and anal sexual copulation.  I can imagine that practitioners of same-sex sodomy might say something to this effect—“Some of you married heterosexuals are doing our kind of sex and calling it okay for yourselves.  Why shouldn’t we do sodomy and call it marriage?”

I think everybody dealing with human sexuality or who even reads the papers has to know that oral sodomy is practiced — sometimes widely — by heterosexuals, married and unmarried and even teenagers, as well as homosexuals.  Yet, to the best of my knowledge, the only natural family planning books that teach explicitly against these immoral behaviors are those written by my wife and me.  It only takes a few lines to say these things, so space cannot be a consideration.  A related question—Is this basic moral teaching contained in any of the marriage preparation texts and courses used in Catholic parishes?  I don’t know, but if any reader can cite any such books or programs, please let me know.

If the purpose of preparation for Christian marriage is to help couples live a morally good life and to build up the Church, why aren’t these things being taught in every marriage prep and NFP course and text?  Is the mission of the Church advanced by omitting these basic moral teachings?

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

Morality of Natural Family Planning

Early on the morning of January 25th, NFP International received an email from a gentleman who is highly critical of NFP.  Though he does not use the word “providentialism,” that’s his position.  He also posted a similar note on a blogsite where a Catholic deacon was reviewing once again the terms used in ecclesial documents to describe the moral use of NFP.  This subject has been worked over more than a few times, so I will be relatively brief.

In all of the comments or rants I have seen against the use of NFP, the writers completely ignore Ecological Breastfeeding as a form of NFP.  What they mean by the generic term, NFP or Natural Family Planning, is solely what we call Systematic Natural Family Planning.  These writers fail to make this distinction, perhaps out of ignorance about eco-breastfeeding or perhaps in some cases because their argument about being open to God’s will falls apart completely with regard to eco-breastfeeding as a God-given natural way of spacing babies.  Unfortunately, this distinction is rarely made even within the NFP movement.

Our correspondent quoted section 17 of Humanae Vitae where Pope Paul VI predicted the harmful effects of the societal acceptance of contraception, but then he criticizes the same Pope for promoting NFP.  “In other words, Pope Paul VI predicted that contraception would evolve from ‘a lifestyle choice’ into a weapon of mass destruction. The Pope wrote all this and then went ahead and started promoting NFP.  Why?  The promptings to promote NFP are not from God[,] their [they’re] from hell…unless God is a liar!”  He then quoted familiar pro-baby verses from the Bible.

The anti-NFP critics have a point—Catholic teaching calls for generosity in having children.  But it also teaches the practice of Christian prudence which is different from materialistic prudence.  In our teaching we make it very clear that systematic NFP is not “Catholic birth control.”  The decision to use systematic NFP should be made in the light of an examination of motives and only in the face of sufficiently serious reasons not to  seek pregnancy at that time.  This is well spelled out in our manual, and any interested reader can obtain it in print or via a download at the NFPI website, www.nfpandmore.org.  For many couples, this thoughtful consideration and decision making is the hardest part of natural family planning.

The decision to do Ecological Breastfeeding, on the other hand, doesn’t entail any such soul searching.  It requires only 1) the realization that this form of breastfeeding provides the best nutrition and baby care and 2) the mother’s freedom to have her baby with her.  For many couples, it is such a pleasant experience that they are looking forward to another baby by the time fertility returns.

It seems to me that the critics of systematic NFP would use their energy better to become well informed about what NFPI teaches in a well balanced way.  Then they would be in a position to present a rational and religious case and ask the diocese to insist that all these things be taught in all the various diocesan NFP efforts.  It is high time for every diocesan NFP effort to promote and teach ecological breastfeeding.

The right kind of diocesan natural baby spacing courses can be a work of the New Evangelization, making it clear that Jesus is the ultimate Author of Catholic teaching on love and marriage, but that may be rare at present.  In fact, some NFP programs take pride in being solely secular.  The time has come to proclaim without fear the fullness of Catholic teaching plus providing sufficient information—including eco-breastfeeding—so couples can make informed decisions for lives of Christian discipleship and baby care.

Pope Francis and “Unbridled Capitalism”

I thought that the fuss about Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) had died out, but The Cincinnati Enquirer recently devoted a full page story (Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014) headlined “Papal shot at unbridled capitalism stirs debate.”  Coming more than six weeks after the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation, the content of what the Pope said was no longer news, so the subject was political commentary.

One Catholic politician said, “I don’t dwell on what the Pope has to say about economics.  I’m more mindful of what the Pope has to say about faith and morals.”  He might be surprised to know that economics has to do with human behavior, not just numbers, and within the Catholic Church the subject started as a part of moral theology.

The subject of debate is what the Pope wrote about “unbridled capitalism.”  Please note that the words “unbridled capitalism” do not appear in the document.  Others seem to recognize that certain behaviors deserve that title, including behaviors criticized by the Pope, but the Pope does not use even the word “capitalism” in this document.

My father’s sense of justice was agitated by the unbridled capitalism that he had witnessed.  John D. Rockefeller and a partner became wealthy in the produce business  and then built an oil refinery during the Civil War.  By the end of the war, he had bought out some of his partners, and by 1870 he formed Standard Oil.  He would enter a geographic market, price his product below cost, drive the existing marketers out of business, and then raise the price and extend his growing monopoly.  That sort of abuse led to the formation of the Sherman Anti-trust Law of 1890, thus putting at least somewhat of a bridle on the previously ruthless and unbridled Rockefeller capitalism.

It is probably true that in the United States and in much of Western Europe, we no longer have the economics that can be called “unbridled capitalism.”  But that doesn’t mean that economics is no longer part of moral theology or that our systems cannot be greatly improved for the betterment of those who are excluded from participating in the benefits of a prosperous economy.

The remaining Rockefellers remain at the top of the economic sphere, and Pope Francis is on solid ground when he writes about the growing separation of the very rich from the very poor.  He rightly urges the wealthy and would-be wealthy to be less concerned about growing more wealthy and to be more concerned about the poor.  He does not, however, address the issue of what the poor can do to help themselves.

As I have written before, one of the great impediments to participation in the benefits of a prosperous economy is fornication.  In the United States, the single greatest source of new poverty is the household headed by a single mother with children.  The American elite have tried to address this with condoms, the Pill, the Shot, and abortion, and the rate of illegitimacy has only proceeded to rise.  The answer is and must be spiritual and moral.

It is time for the Church to affirm this over and over again until it finally sinks in, first within the social-justice agencies of the Church and then within the culture.  But how can the local Church expect to have any influence on single young men and women, many of them unchurched, if it won’t even attempt to do what it can do among its own pew-sitters?  And what it can do, but largely refuses to do, is to require that engaged couples attend the right kind of NFP course, one that includes Catholic morality as well as ecological breastfeeding and the full sympto-thermal method.

What is needed is a new book on the subject of Catholic teaching on economics.  It should place its foundation in Sacred Scripture and moral theology.  Then it should place each of the social justice encyclicals and exhortations in their historical context.  It should also include the centuries-old moral theology concerning breastfeeding and the needs and rights of babies as Fr. William Virtue, PhD, did in his masterful work, Mother and Infant: The Moral Theology of Embodied Self-Giving in Motherhood in Light of the Exemplar Couplet Mary and Jesus.  It is my hunch that many folks, including Catholics, are quite unaware of both the content of this body of teaching and the social ills to which it has responded and continues to address.  In the meantime, I suggest that most of us will benefit by a careful reading of Evangelii Gaudium and also re-reading Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae. 

Pope Francis’ Opportunity

Pope Francis continues to draw the curiosity of the world’s elite and the poor alike.  Among orthodox Catholics there is even a bit of nostalgia as we think back to the early years of the pontificate of soon-to-be Saint Pope John Paul II.  I think it is fair to say that he made Humanae Vitae the focus of the first ten years of his pontificate.  This is pretty well documented in Chapter 7 of Sex and the Marriage Covenant from which I have lifted the following on page 148 of the 2005 edition:

“In his manner of speaking John Paul II has left no room for doubt that the doctrine of marital non-contraception  reaffirmed by Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, and Familiaris Consortio must be believed and put into practice.  He has taught that

  • to hold out for exceptions as if God’s grace were not sufficient is a form of atheism (September 17, 1981);
  • denying the doctrine of marital non-contraception is “equivalent to denying the Catholic concept of revelation” (April 10, 1986);
  • it is a teaching whose truth is beyond discussion (June 5, 1987);
  • it is a “teaching which belongs to the permanent patrimony of the Church’s moral doctrine” and “a truth which cannot be questioned” (March 14, 1988).

On the other hand, despite all of the reaffirmations by Pope John Paul II, the use of natural family planning continued to drop all throughout the Eighties, probably bottoming out in the Nineties, and still so very low that it can hardly get lower.  I mean, there are a certain number of people who simply “get it” and recognize that unnatural forms of birth control are truly “unnatural” and will not have anything to do with them.  A certain number of mothers similarly “get it” regarding ecological breastfeeding which some of them discover on their own simply because it is so natural.

Somehow or other, however, Pope John Paul II didn’t seem to get through to most of the bishops in North America and Europe that they need to take Humanae Vitae seriously and do everything within their power to teach it and provide the practical help to live it.  I do not know what effects his affirmations had in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but I have never seen anything to indicate they were much better than the morally declining West.

So maybe Pope Francis has seen all of this and is looking for a different approach.  I found one sentence in his October 30th America interview to be intriguing.  It is preceded by these sentences:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.  The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent.”

Then he says: “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

Some have been disappointed in these few sentences, but I find a reason for hope in that last sentence.  Maybe he sees that the abortion and same-sex issues (and also the widespread sex-as-sport attitude with its ramifications in fornication, adultery, and prostitution) are not disjointed but all stem from the acceptance of marital contraception.

Just about 100 years ago Margaret Sanger began her very public campaign to legalize contraception.  Within a few years, she had influenced the progressives so much that they were spelling out the logical consequences of the contraceptive lifestyle, and it was widely practiced in the “Roaring Twenties.”  Secular humanist Walter Lippmann wrote in 1929 that they were following the logic of contraception but not the logic of human nature.

The baby born out-of-wedlock has two strikes against him, and the likelihood of poverty is one of them. Perhaps Pope Francis will be the international leader who points out the connection between the acceptance of marital contraception and the whole unhappy rest of the sexual revolution — and that the poor are the ones who suffer the most from it.  Maybe he can be the one to lead the other ecclesial leaders to recognize that God does have a plan for love and sexuality starting with the basic fact that the marriage act ought to be a true  marriage act that reaffirms the faith and love and “for better and for worse” openness to life of the marriage covenant.

 So please pray for Pope Francis.  He has a great opportunity.  And please pray for the continued efforts of NFP International.  Next year we will begin a transition process that will certainly need the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so we ask your prayers.

We remain in the fight.  Please help us first of all with prayer for the NFPI apostolate.  Second, please help us financially as you see fit.  Every gift is important whether it’s $5 or $500 because every gift is a vote of confidence, and that’s something we need.

Third, please help us with your ideas.  What more can we do to get our message to those who need and are open to what we have to offer?   If there is something you think we should do and can do, please let us know.

Lastly, check out the NFP website blogs every week and share them as you can.   (www.nfpandmore.org)

Your December gift will be matched by a donor up to $10,000 total.  May God continue to bless you for whatever help you provide.

John F. Kippley,  President, NFP International

P. S.  Couples are finding the NFPI Home Study Course very helpful.  See the next page.

 NFP International is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, and gifts are tax-deductible.

Comments from users of the NFPI Home Study Course

  • This was very educating.  I learned things about myself that I never knew before.
  • The course has been very beneficial to me in more ways than I thought would be possible.  I definitely learned more about my religions and how the Church sees and feels about the marital act.  The course definitely has opened my eyes and reshaped and refocused my path to future family planning. 
  • We appreciate all your help and how responsive you have been.  The course has been great and the NFP process seems really strong.
  • I believe this is very valuable information.  We have also made the decision to discuss with local priests about offering the class for the local Catholic churches as part of pre-marital counseling.  I only wish I had learned this information years ago, especially the ecological breastfeeding prior to my first child.                    Note:  This writer works at a clinic which does “not offer, recommend or refer for abortion,   abortifacients or birth control.”  The NFPI course and materials will be free at this clinic, and she is now going through teacher training to teach NFP at the clinic.
  • The course is an informative guide to accurately monitor one’s cycle.  It accommodates a busy schedule, and the material is clear and easy to understand.
  • We truly wish that others would see NFP as we do.  I know that a man and a woman can benefit  tremendously from this method, following God’s teaching and procreating.  It is healthy, simple, convenient and thorough.  We have started charting.  We both know how much we love each other, and each month will be our relationship story replayed over and over again. 
  • We really enjoyed learning about this and talking with each other about what we have learned. 

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If you know someone who would benefit from the NFPI Home Study Course, have them go to the NFPI Home Page – www.nfpandmore.org. – and then click on the Home Study course near the top of the page.  It’s that simple.

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The above is the Advent Fund Appeal of NFP International.  If you feel moved to help this apostolate financially,  use the Please Donate button in the left hand column at http://www.nfpandmore.org.   Many thanks for reading and even more for your prayers and and other help.