Aug 27, 2006

NFP Courses and My Apology

KCPriest at Sacerdos in Aeternum asked a question of his readers back on July 14 about teaching NFP to engaged persons and what constitutes "grave necessity." His short post received 66 comments, some of which seemed excessively argumentative. KCPriest stated in his post that he fully intends to post again on the subject of NFP.

I wrote a post saying some of the discussion at KCPriest's blog was overdone when compared to China's policy of one-child families. I received a comment recently that correctly asked:
You can't mean to imply that everyone should have just ignored the good Father's request for dialogue on the subject?
I attempted to answer that comment, but still feel my response was not very good. Well, I'm backtracking, and apologizing, too, to all the persons who argued from their heart and soul on a very important issue for Catholic families.

Why? Because of the last comment shown above and especially because of reading "NFP courses: Asking questions can be helpful," a new article by John F. Kippley in the August/September issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review. I hope all parties participating in the original post by KCPriest read this article that emphasizes NFP instruction must respect the norms of modesty and encourage chastity. The article asks priests
Do you want your engaged couples to attend a course that seeks to elicit a decision for marital chastity and Christian discipleship or a course that seeks to be only an anatomy-physiology course on human reproduction?
Kippley and his wife founded the Couple to Couple League for NFP in 1971 and they have recently formed NFP International to continue their work internationally, especially in Eastern Europe. They now have concerns about some of the NFP courses being taught, especially the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). FAM is stated to teach women how to monitor their fertility so they can use sinful contraceptive behaviors only during the fertile time.

Kippley states:
Catholic priests who want to promote and teach marital chastity through NFP instruction need to be aware of significant difference in NFP programs...Common sins [to avoid pregnancy in the fertile period] need to be is clear that dioceses and NFP programs have to be more clear and explicit about the moral use of NFP.
In particular, Kippley says that priests who recommend NFP courses should ask questions of those persons teaching NFP.

With regard to comments on a prior article in HPR by Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP, on "Immodesty unrecognized--the problems with teaching NFP." Kippley says that
Fr. Ripperger is right: bishops, priests, deacons, and marriage preparation personnel may be sending engaged couples to NFP instructions in which the norms of modesty are ignored.
In the future, I expect to see and welcome more dialogue on "serious" vs. "grave" reasons to practice NFP.


Alison said...

Are you sure you qualify to be a blogger. You may be too humble. Seriously, it is very refreshing to see a blogger of your nature.

M. Alexander said...

"The Church neither approves nor disapproves of the rhythm method as a system to be followed. The Church merely tolerates the use of the method. Toleration indicates reluctant permission. And the Church only tolerates this method when three definite factors are present. First there is sufficient serious reason enough to justify sidestepping the first purpose of marriage; second, both husband and wife are truly willing to follow the method-neither one can force the other to adapt this system; third, the use of this method must not cause mortal sins against chastity nor become a proximate occasion of such sins. The breakdown of any one of these three factors makes the use of rhythm sinful. So the correct attitude is this: The use of rhythm is sometimes no sin, sometimes venial sin, sometimes mortal sin. So please stop saying; 'Oh, it's okay, the Church approves it.' Rev Hugh Calkins. O.S.M.

Dust I Am said...

Mary, You've said it all very well.

Anonymous said...

A focus on the difference between "serious" and "grave" reasons for the use of NFP is, I think, a red herring. It's true that we sometimes use serious to mean "pretty important" as opposed to "grave"; but seriousness is a matter of proportion. If my child jumps on the table and starts knocking the dishes off, that's a serious reason for me to give him a spanking; but it's not a serious reason for me to chop his head off. The proportion just isn't there. NFP is the suspension of the ordinary means of matrimony (i.e., that the couple unite in the marital embrace when they feel the attraction.) The seriousness of the reasons to use NFP must be proportioned to the suspension of the ordinary practice of the marriage vocation: a sacred vocation which you cannot enter unless you give yourself wholly to it by a vow. Any reason which is "serious" enough to warrant the suspension of the practice of your vocation will also be "grave."

Now, a grave reason doesn't have to be a life and death situation. If it's quite clear to you that you are not going to be able to care for your child because you're exhausted, that could well be a grave, serious reason for using NFP. But if we start trying to say that the reasons don't have to be grave, or only "serious" in the sense that we really care about them, then we seriously devalue marriage.

Thanks for reading! :)