I’m looking forward to seeing this new document from the Pontifical Council on the Family, not because it contains groundbreaking new “condemnations from the Vatican” as some media would have us believe, but because it offers some interesting clarifications. According to the Catholic News Service story, the document has some interesting things to say about Natural Family Planning. While NFP has legitimate uses and may be used to space children when there are serious reasons, such a vague limit inevitably leads to a wide variety of application, including what some people call “Catholic birth control,” i.e. the use and promotion of NFP as a form of contraception, which although natural stems from a contraceptive mentality.
The document, “Family and Human Procreation,” addresses this specifically:
When for the good of the entire family it is best to avoid having another child, couples can abstain from sexual intercourse during fertile periods to avoid a pregnancy, it said.
However, using natural family planning to have only one or a maximum of two children “is nothing other than a kind of series of brief parentheses within an entire conjugal life willingly made sterile,” it said.
That’s a very strong statement by the council, and note that this is written in reference to people using NFP, not the Pill or sterilizations or other artificial contraceptive methods. This should cause a furor among NFP proponents.