19 November 2009

USCCB Strongly Worded Marriage Document

On 17 November 2009, USCCB put out the document:
Love and Life in the Divine Plan
A Pastoral Letter of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

There is some strong language regarding same-sex "marriage" and Natural Family Planning. Please see below.

About same-sex "marriage":
Today, advocacy for the legal recognition of various same-sex relationships is often equated with non-discrimination, fairness, equality, and civil rights. However, it is not unjust to oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions, because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. "The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it." To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice. In fact, it would be a grave injustice if the state ignored the unique and proper place of husbands and wives, the place of mothers and fathers, and especially the rights of children, who deserve from society clear guidance as they grow to sexual maturity. Indeed, without this protection the state would, in effect, intentionally deprive children of the right to a mother and father.
(original emphasis)

About Natural Family Planning (NFP; not the traditional rhythm method):
Natural family planning (NFP) methods represent authentic family planning. They can be used both to achieve and to postpone a pregnancy. NFP makes use of periodic abstinence from sexual intercourse based upon the observation of the woman‘s natural signs of fertility, in order to space births or to limit the number of children when there is a serious reason to do so. NFP methods require that couples learn, accept, and live with the wonders of how God made them. This is essentially different from contraception. (emphasis added)

Openness to procreation in the marital act involves "acknowledg[ing] that one is not the master of the sources of life." Using the technology of contraception is an attempt at such mastery. By contrast, couples using methods of NFP do nothing to alter the conjugal act. Rather, they abstain from conjugal relations during the portion of the woman‘s menstrual cycle when conception is most likely. This practice fosters in couples an attitude of respect and wonder in the face of human life, which is sacred. It also fosters profound respect for one‘s spouse, which is necessary for the mutual enjoyment of authentic intimacy.

As Pope John Paul II observes, any couple who tries to live out this openness to procreation will find that it requires a sacrificial love. At certain difficult times in life, the procreative meaning of marriage may seem to be at odds with the unitive meaning. Though this can in fact never be the case, preserving unity may in some cases require a considerable sacrifice by couples. They should take heart from St. Paul‘s assurance that God will not test us beyond what we can endure: "God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor 10:13).

I fully agree with the above analysis.

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