Marriage is under attack as never before. We see sodomite "marriages," "no fault" divorces, and Bergoglio giving "communion" to adulterers. As if this weren't bad enough, there are those who give good Traditionalists who are married wrong information which then burdens and troubles their consciences. I see more and more posts, websites, and comments that declare Natural Family Planning ("NFP") to be mortally sinful--an intrinsic evil that cannot be condoned. There are some who claim kissing between a validly married husband and wife to be sinful. Cult leader Richard Ibranyi goes as far as to state that a married couple who engage in sexual relations for the purpose of begetting children, sin mortally if they take pleasure in the act. Like the Manichean heretics of old, they repudiate the true meaning and beauty of marriage. I will set forth Church teaching on the nature of marriage and the use of NFP.
Marriage is of Divine Institution and was Raised by Christ to the Dignity of a Sacrament
This is not disputed among the "modern day Manicheans" although they go terribly awry in most other areas concerning marriage. (Manicheanism [sometimes spelled "Manichaeism"] was an ancient heresy which taught, inter alia, all marriage is wrong since the body--and all matter-- was the work and effect of evil). As to the Divine Institution of Holy Matrimony, and its establishment as a sacrament; from the Council of Trent:
CANON I.-If any one saith, that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the New law, instituted by Christ the Lord; but that it has been invented by men in the Church; and that it does not confer grace; let him be anathema.
Pope Leo XIII:
"God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time. And this union of man and woman, that it might answer more fittingly to the infinite wise counsels of God, even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties - deeply sealed, as it were, and signed upon it-namely, unity and perpetuity. From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of Jesus Christ. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution, should exist between two only, that is, between one man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh; and that the marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder. "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." (See encyclical Arcanum Divinae para. # 3; Emphasis mine).
Pope Pius XI:
And to begin with that same Encyclical [Arcanum Divinae], which is wholly concerned in vindicating the divine institution of matrimony, its sacramental dignity, and its perpetual stability, let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves. (See encyclical Casti Connubii para #5; Emphasis mine).
The Primary Purpose of Marriage is the Procreation of Children
Pope Pius XI:
"Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the child holds the first place. And indeed the Creator of the human race Himself, Who in His goodness wishes to use men as His helpers in the propagation of life, taught this when, instituting marriage in Paradise, He said to our first parents, and through them to all future spouses: "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth." As St. Augustine admirably deduces from the words of the holy Apostle Saint Paul to Timothy when he says: "The Apostle himself is therefore a witness that marriage is for the sake of generation: 'I wish,' he says, 'young girls to marry.' And, as if someone said to him, 'Why?,' he immediately adds: 'To bear children, to be mothers of families'." (See encyclical Casti Connubi para. #11; Emphasis mine).
The Canon Law (1917), Canon 1013 section 1 states, "The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children. It’s secondary end is mutual help and the allaying of concupiscence."
The Secondary Purpose of Marriage is Mutual Love and Support and to allay Concupiscence
Besides the Code of Canon Law cited above, we have this truth beautifully summed up by Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Arcanum Divinae:
"Secondly, the mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help. The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity." (para. #11)
Artificial Contraception is Intrinsically Evil
Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii:
"But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious." (para. #54; Emphasis mine)
Is NFP Artificial Contraception?
NFP is restricting the times of marital relations to the woman's infertile period, so as to avoid pregnancy. The unanimous teaching of the moral theologians pre-Vatican II teach that NFP is NOT the same (or the moral equivalent to) artificial contraception. It was also taught by Pope Pius XII.
According to theologian Jone:
"Abstaining from intercourse during this [infertile] period has come to be known as the Rhythm Method of Birth Control [later NFP]. For a proportionate reason and with the mutual consent of husband and wife it is lawful intentionally to practice periodic continence, i.e., restrict intercourse to those times when conception is impossible...[it is subject to three conditions] (1) Both parties must freely agree to the restrictions it involves; (2)The practice must not constitute an occasion of sin, especially the sin of incontinence; (3) There must be a proportionately grave reason for not having children, at least for the time being." ( See Moral Theology, , pg. 542).
According to theologian Prummer:
"To make use of the so-called safe period has been declared lawful..." (See Handbook of Moral Theology, , pg. 413).
According to theologians McHugh and Callan:
"(b) If birth control refers to a means of family limitation, it is lawful when that means is continence or abstinence from marital relations, not if it is onanism or the use of mechanical or chemical means to prevent conception." (See Moral Theology, , 2:604; Emphasis in original).
Pope Pius XII:
"Our Predecessor, Pius XI, of happy memory, in his Encyclical Casti Connubii, of December 31, 1930, once again solemnly proclaimed the fundamental law of the conjugal act and conjugal relations: that every attempt of either husband or wife in the performance of the conjugal act or in the development of its natural consequences which aims at depriving it of its inherent force and hinders the procreation of new life is immoral; and that no “indication” or need can convert an act which is intrinsically immoral into a moral and lawful one...
Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called 'indications,' may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned. If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to the full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles." (See Address to Midwives on the Nature of Their Profession, October 29, 1951).
The Errors of the Neo-Manicheans
Fred and Bobby Dimond, along with Ibranyi, and trusaint.com (among others) have spread various errors. Here is a refutation of the most egregious.
1. Montini ("Pope" Paul VI) endorsed NFP in Humanae Vitae. It must be wrong.
Not everything a false pope says is necessarily untrue. For example, Wojtyla (JPII) often condemned abortion, and on this particular point, he was correct. Roncalli had set up a Commission to "study" whther or not artificial contraception could be used. Clearly, it cannot. It reminds me of Bergoglio "studying" ways for adulterers to receive "communion." The majority of heretics on the Commission wanted to allow artificial contraception. The minority held fast to the prohibition. Fr. DePauw told me that Cardinal Ottaviani had convinced Montini that if he went with the majority report, his "papacy" would be looked upon as illegitimate by many. (Too bad that didn't happen!). So, in 1968, Montini ruled in favor of the minority report.
Paragraph #16 is frequently cited by the Neo-Manicheans: "…married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained." They claim this teaching is "novel." What they omit is the fact that Montini's footnote to this passage cites to the Address given by Pope Pius XII! It was the Traditional teaching of the True Church.
2. Pope Pius XII only taught NFP in an address. It's not infallible.
This argument rejects the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium (UOM) of the Church. Pope Pius XII was simply expressing what had already been taught by the UOM. That's no surprise as all the proponents of these evil teachings are Feenyites (surprise, surprise). See my post of January 22, 2018 for more on the UOM.
3. There is no difference between NFP and artificial contraception. They both prevent conception and stand condemned by Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii.
NFP makes use of what God placed in human nature. Such couples must have serious reasons, and must practice abstinence during fertile periods. The artificially contracepting couple is using means not intended by God for selfish motives and their own convenience. That's a huge difference. Furthermore, there are decisions of the Sacred Penitentiary (the official Church body that decides definitively questions of morality, especially as they pertain to the sacrament of Penance) which teach NFP. In 1853, the Penitentiary answered a query: "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 answer was: "After mature examination, we have decided that such spouses should not be disturbed [or disquieted], provided they do nothing that impedes generation." This was under Pope Pius IX. The question was raised again in 1880, under Pope Leo XIII, and on June 16, 1880, received the answer that not only may confessors do nothing to "disquiet" or "disturb" married couples who are already practicing periodic continence; it even authorizes the confessor to advise them about it to prevent onanistic practices (e.g., "withdrawal").
Then, in a response dated July 20, 1932, the Sacred Penitentiary answered the following query regarding the exclusive use of the infertile period:
"Whether the practice is licit in itself by which spouses who, for just and grave causes, wish to avoid offspring in a morally upright way, abstain from the use of marriage – by mutual consent and with upright motives – except on those days which, according to certain recent [medical] theories, conception is impossible for natural reasons." The answer: "Provided for by the Response of the Sacred Penitentiary of June 16, 1880." This was under Pope Pius XI, author of Casti Connubii! The Neo-Manichaens would have us believe Pope Pius XI didn't understand his own encyclical.
According to the eminent canonists Vermeersch and Bouscaren, in What is Marriage?, a catechism based on Casti Connubii, points out: "Let us observe that there is a great difference between the practice of birth control and the restricted use of marriage of which we speak. The abuses of birth control can be practised constantly, they give free reign to passion, they do not demand the exercise of any moral force whatever; whereas this limited use of marriage requires, for voluntary abstinence on certain days, a moral force the exercise of which is not without social value." (pg. 44).
4. Married couples are required to have as many children as physically possible. St. Catherine of Sienna was twenty-fifth of twenty-five children.
Married couples should be generous and have many children. However, God's plan is different for each couple. According to theologian John O'Brien, "Contrary to the impression that prevails in some quarters, there is no obligation on any couple to beget any specific number of children, much less to give birth to the largest number possible." (See Lawful Birth Control, , pgs. 61-62).
5. The marital act is sinful if pleasure is taken therein.
Trusaint.com states, "Thus, spouses may never kiss each other in a sensual way or in this way provoke themselves into sexual lust or 'pollution,' either as an act that is separated completely from the marital act or as an act that is committed in relationship to the marital act (such as foreplay), even if pollution or ejaculation is excluded." Yes, you read that wacky statement correctly. Furthermore, the site claims the marital act is evil and can only be "excused" by a positive intent to produce a child. Really? Why has the Church always allowed the infertile and older widows/widowers to marry? They base this insanity partly on a decision condemning lustful kisses on the part of single people!
According to theologian O'Brien, "Contrary to the assertion of misinformed writers, the Church does not look disparagingly upon sex nor upon the enjoyment of the conjugal relationship by married couples even when there is no probability of conception. It is precisely because she holds sex to be the high creation of Almighty God, the source of mankind's deepest happiness, as well as the divinely ordained fountain whence streams race, that she raises Her voice in protest against its degradation by the unnatural method of contraception. Nothing could be farther from the truth than to picture the Church as viewing sex as merely a necessary evil which must be indulged to keep the race from extinction." (See Lawful Birth Control, , pgs. 49-50).
Pope Pius XII in his Address to Midwives (1951):
"The same Creator, Who in His bounty and wisdom willed to make use of the work of man and woman, by uniting them in matrimony, for the preservation and propagation of the human race, has also decreed that in this function the parties should experience pleasure and happiness of body and spirit. Husband and wife, therefore, by seeking and enjoying this pleasure do no wrong whatever. They accept what the Creator has destined for them."
If you are married, please don't have your conscience burdened by Neo-Manicheans who denigrate the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. You are not forbidden to use NFP (speak to a Traditionalist priest first) for good cause. You are allowed to enjoy the marital act, even if incapable of having children. Nor must you have as many children as physically possible. Use the sacrament as God intended; to bring the two of you closer to Him and beget children insofar as you may be able under your circumstances in life. Let us all remember to be charitable in our thoughts towards married couples who may have few---or maybe no--- children. Don't assume they are sinners, you don't know their hearts--God does.
First, look to what the Church's approved theologians teach in all matters, ignoring what others say to the contrary. Second, have charity towards all. Put them together, and it's a "marriage made in Heaven."
Addendum: This post is about AUTHENTIC NFP, as stated in the title. It is not about contraception by means of any natural method, thereby endorsing the contraceptive mentality of being child free on purpose and merely substituting natural means for artificial means. This is often found among "conservative" Vatican II sect types (e.g., EWTN, etc.)