Welcome   |   Login   |   Sign Up   |

US/ Natural Family Planning Awareness Week

SCOTT DODGE discusses the difference between birth control and contraception and the Catholic Church’s stance, on the occasion of National Family Planning Awareness Week.

(Fotolia) (Fotolia)

Before the alarm goes up, or I am branded what one Catholic commentator recently dubbed a "NFP fundamentalist," I will note that this is my last post on NFP for quite awhile. Besides that, I am always aware of what Owen Cummings warned against in his book Deacons and the Church, namely becoming a one issue deacon, though for anyone who knows me, reads my blog, or is even my Facebook friend, I can hardly or justly be accused of being preoccupied with one issue.

What prompts this post is the fact that this week is NFP Awareness Week, an annual event that occurs each year during the week of the anniversary of Pope Paul VI's promulgation of what was to be his last encyclical, Humanae Vitae- 25 July 1968.

It is widely held that this was Paul VI's last encyclical letter, which is probably the most authoritative form of the ordinary exercise of the papal magisterium in our time, because of the waves of dissent and resistance unleashed against it, especially among theologians of a certain school, but also by many priests and even some bishops. One would think that given all the notoriety this issue is receiving due to the show-down between the Church and the Obama Administration over the unjust HHS mandate, this week would be made more well-known this year, but, for whatever reason, it is not.

One important distinction that I feel compelled to reiterate just about every time I write, teach, speak, or preach on Natural Family Planning is the necessary distinction between "birth control" and "contraception." The Church is not opposed to the former, even holding that it is a moral responsibility for married couples, but holds that the latter is intrinsically evil, objectively disordered, something that is always wrong. Birth control is an end, contraception is one means to that end, an immoral one. After all, ends do not justify means.

One fact that is frequently overlooked is the frequency of contraceptive failure, even for married couples (my understanding is that it is even higher among young, unmarried people). The important take-away from this is that too many people use various forms of contraception with a false sense of security. It is also important to be honest about the abortifacient potential of certain methods of contraception, as well as the deleterious long-term health effects use of these same methods have on women's health, as well as the recently surfaced environmental and unintended human effects of these chemicals, which, if Melinda Gates has her way, will be used by every poor woman on the planet. If you think I am exaggerating the scope of Gates' ambition, I direct you to the segment of Al Kresta's 18 July program for which Dr. Janet Smith, who is one of the foremost expositors of the Church's teaching on these matters, is the guest (see his website for podcast). What gives Kresta's treatment of this matter credibility is that he uses Melinda Gates' own words, expressed in her recent, televised interview, as his starting point, posting links to that and other media sources on his website.