Saturday, August 13, 2005

Is Natural Family Planning (NFP) a heresy?

Some have suggested that Natural Family Planning (NFP), which is periodic abstinence from sex to avoid pregnancy, is a heresy promoted since Vatican II. If this is to suggest that every use of NFP is sinful, then they are terribly mistaken.

One so-called "traditionalist Catholic" stated on a Catholic Answers Forum discussion ...

"We have never used NFP because we believe that it is up to God to decide how many children we should have."

God certainly does, whether you use NFP or not.

"We traditionalists Catholics call this Catholic birth control when NFP is used."

Aren't traditionalist Catholics called to submit to the pope as their superior in matters of faith and morals? Do you agree with Pope St. Pius X, for example, when he asserted that "there can be no holiness in dissension with the Pope?"

"We have been taught before we got married by priests that there are various reasons for not having children ... but it is abstinence that is used."
Yes. Catholics call this Natural Family Planning (NFP).

"... why do they insist on not resisting the temptation to give in to the birth control mentality that has been promoted since Vatican II? Obviously there is something wrong with Vatican II just from this immoral practice of Catholic birth control."
Ah, your ignorance of pre-Vatican II teachings of the Catholic Church is showing. Observe,
"The first time Rome spoke on the matter [of periodic continence to avoid pregnancy] was 1853, when the Sacred Penitentiary answered a dubium (a formal request for an official
clarification) submitted by the bishop of Amiens, France. He asked, "Should those spouses be reprehended who make use of marriage only on those days when (in the opinion of some doctors) conception is impossible?" The reply was: "After mature examination, we have decided that such spouses should not be disturbed [or disquieted], provided they do nothing that impedes generation" (quoted in J. Montánchez, Teología Moral 654, my translation). By the expression "impedes generation," it is obvious the Vatican meant the use of onanism (or coitus interruptus, now popularly called "withdrawal"), condoms, etc. Otherwise the reply would be self-contradictory.

The next time the issue was raised was in 1880, when the Sacred Penitentiary issued a more general response . The precise question posed was this: "Whether it is licit to make use of marriage only on those days when it is more difficult for conception to occur?" The response was: "Spouses using the aforesaid method are not to be disturbed; and a confessor may, with due caution, suggest this proposal to spouses, if his other attempts to lead them away from the detestable crime of onanism have proved fruitless." (This decision was published in Nouvelle Revue Théologique 13 [1881]: 459–460 and in Analecta Iuris Pontificii 22 [1883], 249.) One could not ask for a more obvious and explicit proof that more than eighty years before Vatican II, Rome saw a great moral difference between NFP (as we now call it) and contraceptive methods, which Catholic moralists then referred to as onanism. This was the doctrine and pastoral practice that all priests learned in seminary from the mid-nineteenth century onward. Before Pius XI was elected, Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Benedict XV all clearly approved of this status quo established by their own Sacred Penitentiary and never showed the slightest inclination to reverse its decisions of 1853 and 1880."

[Fr. Brian Harrison, Is Natural Family Planning a Heresy? (This Rock: February 2005)]
I recommend the following book by Peter Vere and Patrick Madrid, called More Catholic Than The Pope - An Inside Look At Extreme Traditionalism.

God bless,



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