Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Except in Theory, Dioceses Offer Little Support for Natural Family Planning

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Except in Theory, Dioceses Offer Little Support for Natural Family Planning

Article excerpt

Today, perhaps as never before, married couples are overwhelmed with the pressures of modern life. Decisions regarding the number and spacing of children are often difficult, and many spouses see contraception as not only necessary but also unavoidable. Contraception is seen often reluctantly as a major problem solver, a lesser evil in a world that offers few alternatives.

Against this pragmatic view of life, Humanae Vitae proclaims a vision of human sexuality as participating in the creative act of God. The encyclical notes that conjugal relations express a profound mystery with two dimensions. The mutual self-giving of spouses' physical selves to each other is meant to be both unifying and life-giving, drawing into their marriage the presence of God. Contraception drastically alters this sacred balance.

The church, as the people of God, trusts that married couples will strive to be faithful to the church's teaching on the transmission of human life. But just challenging spouses to strive for the higher moral ground in their conjugal life isn't enough. Although education is essential (many Catholics do not understand the church's teaching in this area), more is needed.

Often forgotten in our defense of Humanae Vitae is the fact that the entire people of God is called to support the church's teachings on conjugal love and responsible parenthood by doing all they can to nourish and enliven married couples and their families. If spouses are to be open to life and love, they should expect to receive nurturing, life and love from the church. …

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