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Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, July 25, 2004
USCCB ^ | 07.16.04

Posted on 07/16/2004 9:20:35 AM PDT by Coleus

LIFE ISSUES FORUM

July 16, 2004
For Immediate Release

"A Way of Life, A Way of Love"
by Theresa Notare, MA

On July 25 the dioceses will begin a week-long campaign to help Catholics understand the Church's teachings on birth control. The campaign-Natural Family Planning Awareness Week-has as its theme "A Way of Life, A Way of Love." Why pick July as a time to do this? Two reasons: the anniversary of the important encyclical on birth control, Humanae vitae, falls on July 28th, and summer is typically a time when people slow down. It's a good time for reflection. Most Catholics are unaware that these teachings are about what God originally planned for His children.

Catholic teachings on sex and birth control come right from Scripture. That's where we find what God wants for men and women. Genesis begins with the creation of men and women made "in the image of God" (Gen. 1:27). This means that men and women have an inner dignity. It also means that they are not merely "of the human family," but are of a "divine family" - God's own children! In light of our salvation in Christ, St. Paul built on this ancient revelation teaching that those who are baptized "are the body of Christ" (I Cor. 12: 27). In fact St. Paul says that "If ... any man is in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17). St. Peter echoes this understanding that baptized Christians are "a chosen race ... a holy nation," in fact, "the people of God" (1 Peter 2:9 & 10).

The Church has always understood that because of baptism, Christians are really different-they are living members of the body of Christ! What does this have to do with sex and birth control? St. Paul says that as members of Christ, Christians carry a responsibility in their own bodies-they are temples of the Holy Spirit (see I Cor. 6:19). Because of this, if Christians abuse human sexuality, he continues, they gravely dishonor God dwelling within (see I Cor. 6:13-20).

Genesis is clear about God's design for marriage: "A man shall leave his father and the mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24) and "God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply'" (Gen. 1:28). God's design is that one man and one woman bond as "one person" and that within that bond, a holy reality, an awesome responsibility exists-to cooperate with Him in bringing new life into the world. Decisions regarding the timing of possible pregnancies should be made prayerfully and with respect for God's design (i.e., working with the natural cycle of human fertility). Artificially blocking fertility effectively shuts God out of the bedroom!

Christian married love is "a way of life" and "a way of love" that stands in stark contrast to secular notions of marriage. It is bound up with a purpose greater than the needs and desires of the couple, namely, God's original design for creation. Natural Family Planning Awareness Week celebrates this divine plan.

Theresa Notare, MA, is the Assistant Director of the Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning, Pro-Life Secretariat, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science; Theology
KEYWORDS: nfp; usccb

1 posted on 07/16/2004 9:20:41 AM PDT by Coleus
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To: Diago; narses; Loyalist; BlackElk; american colleen; saradippity; Dajjal; Land of the Irish; ...
On July 25 the dioceses will begin a week-long campaign to help Catholics understand the Church's teachings on birth control. The campaign-Natural Family Planning Awareness Week-has as its theme "A Way of Life, A Way of Love." Why pick July as a time to do this? Two reasons: the anniversary of the important encyclical on birth control, Humanae vitae, falls on July 28th

Precisely what I have been saying for a long time has been fulfilled with frightening accuracy. The campaign to teach Catholics about "the Church's teaching on birth control" turns into "Natural Family Planning Awareness Week." NFP has become Catholic birth control. The USCCB is officially saying so and even spreading propaganda throughout every diocese in the country. If anyone has ever denied that NFP is now Catholic birth control, I hope they will take a look at this.

How much do you think they will talk about "grave reasons"? Will they really present NFP as something reserved only for emergency situations? Will couples be told that it is a "grave sin against the very nature of married life" to use NFP without a sufficiently grave reason?

Most definitely not, as is made clear by the title of the program, "A Way of Life, a Way of Love." They are NOT presenting NFP the way that Pope Pius XII did in his "Allocution to Italian Midwives." They are presenting it as the Catholic alternative to the pill.

What about fruitfulness as one of the 3 essential foundations of marriage? What about generosity in accepting children from God? Has the entire traditional Catholic view on marriage been tossed out the window?

Yes, clearly it has. To me this represents the apostasy of the post-conciliar Church even more than the New Mass or ecumenism. They have completely destroyed the authentically Catholic truth about marriage. And as the above excerpt makes clear, it can be traced back to that disastrous debacle of an encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

2 posted on 07/16/2004 9:17:29 PM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Coleus; GatorGirl; maryz; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; Askel5; livius; ...

Which is worse, abusing NFP or using condoms or worse, the pill?


3 posted on 07/16/2004 9:21:11 PM PDT by narses (If you want ON or OFF my Catholic Ping List email me. +)
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To: Maximilian; Akron Al; Alberta's Child; Andrew65; AniGrrl; Antoninus; apologia_pro_vita_sua; ...
To me this represents the apostasy of the post-conciliar Church even more than the New Mass or ecumenism. They have completely destroyed the authentically Catholic truth about marriage. And as the above excerpt makes clear, it can be traced back to that disastrous debacle of an encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

I'm in full agreement with you.

4 posted on 07/16/2004 9:21:52 PM PDT by Land of the Irish
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To: Maximilian
How much do you think they will talk about "grave reasons"? Will they really present NFP as something reserved only for emergency situations? Will couples be told that it is a "grave sin against the very nature of married life" to use NFP without a sufficiently grave reason?.

What are some examples of grave reasons? Or emergency situations?

5 posted on 07/16/2004 9:31:59 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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To: narses
Which is worse, abusing NFP or using condoms or worse, the pill?

It depends on what you mean. If you are referring to the moral gravity of an individual instance committed by a married couple, then abusing NFP is usually less serious than using artificial contraception.

However, if you mean "Which is worse in terms of destroying an authentically Catholic concept of marriage?" then I would answer "NFP." The reason is that everyone recognizes that the pill and condoms and so forth are not Catholic. Even the 97% of married Catholic couples who have used such devices are aware that they are contrary to Catholic teaching. They know that they are sinning.

But NFP, on the other hand, is presented as a positive good, when it is not. It is at best a concession. But look at the propaganda being spewed by the USCCB: "A Way of Life, a Way of Love." Clearly they do not see NFP as reserved for grave reasons. So they are doing much more damage to the authentically Catholic understanding of generosity and fruitfulness and "accepting children in whatever number God chooses to send them."

A subtle heresy that contains some orthodoxy is always much more dangerous than a blatant heresy that clearly contradicts the truth of the faith.

6 posted on 07/16/2004 9:49:50 PM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Lauren BaRecall
What are some examples of grave reasons? Or emergency situations?

This is a very good question, and it is unfortunate that the issue has never been resolved. It was 53 years ago when Pope Pius XII granted that NFP could be permitted within certain limited constraints. He mentioned "grave reasons of a medical, economic, social or eugenic nature." But during the past half century we have had Vatican II and Humanae Vitae and then "The Theology of the Body," and no one has ever presented a more definitive explanation of what these terms are supposed to mean.

BTW, besides the grave reasons, there are a couple of other essential conditions for practicing NFP that are usually omitted from these discussions:

1. Both partners must agree. It cannot be unilateral. This is because the marriage right is "permanent, continuous and uninterrupted." That means that one marriage partner can never deny the marriage right to the other partner without committing a grave injustice unless there is some sufficient reason why it is inopportune to fulfill the marriage obligation at this time, but it must be fulfilled as soon as it becomes opportune.

2. Both partners must be able to fulfill the conditions without the temptation of falling into sin. If continence, even periodic continence, were a source of temptation towards masturbations, adultery, etc. for either partner, then NFP could not be attempted. Even if there were proportionally grave reasons, no reason can ever justify mortal sin. Better to die without mortal sin, if that be the alternative, rather than commit mortal sin even to save a life.

7 posted on 07/16/2004 9:58:25 PM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Maximilian
This is a very good question, and it is unfortunate that the issue has never been resolved.

Are there any cases in Cannon Law?

1. Both partners must agree. It cannot be unilateral. This is because the marriage right is "permanent, continuous and uninterrupted." That means that one marriage partner can never deny the marriage right to the other partner without committing a grave injustice unless there is some sufficient reason why it is inopportune to fulfill the marriage obligation at this time, but it must be fulfilled as soon as it becomes opportune.

I'm all for this. Another reason why communication is so important in a marriage: every couple has to come to a general agreement beforehand that should passion overtake them, they will graciously accept an outcome of pregnancy. This must be decided upon as a general rule of thumb, in advance.

2. Both partners must be able to fulfill the conditions without the temptation of falling into sin. If continence, even periodic continence, were a source of temptation towards masturbations, adultery, etc. for either partner, then NFP could not be attempted....

I'm all for this, too. But at the same time, it's more a matter of "grow the hell up." If a person is "at risk" to do any of these sinful things, what did they do before they got married? Is a man going to go to a prostitute because his wife is sick in bed for a week? Whether it's due to the flu, or NFP, a brief abstinence still = no sex. Such an "at risk" person is not mature enough to be married in the first place, IMO.

8 posted on 07/16/2004 10:24:53 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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To: Maximilian; Land of the Irish

sobering post.

Thanks for the pings, Land of the Irish.


9 posted on 07/16/2004 10:30:11 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Lauren BaRecall
Are there any cases in Cannon Law?

Not that I'm aware of, because it would be a matter for the "internal forum," i.e. an individual's conscience. Generally issues become matter for canon law when they become public. For example, an annulment is a public repudiation of what had been a publicly sworn commitment. But the decision to use NFP would rarely enter into the public arena or become a matter of canon law. However, the canon law that was in effect until 1983 did specifically state that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children.

10 posted on 07/16/2004 10:39:20 PM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Maximilian
Even the 97% of married Catholic couples who have used such devices are aware that they are contrary to Catholic teaching. They know that they are sinning.

Unfortunately, being aware that artificial forms of birth control are contrary to Church teaching doesn't necessarily mean that people know they're sinning if they use them. At least not in today's more secularized world, very sorry to say.

So they are doing much more damage to the authentically Catholic understanding of generosity and fruitfulness and "accepting children in whatever number God chooses to send them."

How is this so? What do they say to put out this message?

11 posted on 07/16/2004 10:42:36 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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To: Maximilian
However, the canon law that was in effect until 1983 did specifically state that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children.

If the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children, then, according to the cannon prior to 1983, was the marriage of a couple forbidden, if it was known prior to marriage that one or both of the partners could not have children?

For example, if one of the prospective spouses was infertile due to cancer treatments, would they be allowed to marry?

In addition, would it be grounds for annulment if it was discovered after marriage that one of the spouses could not have children? Could not, as opposed to would not?

BTW, I think the previous cannon dated from 1917?

12 posted on 07/16/2004 11:02:32 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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To: Maximilian; ninenot; GirlShortstop

We disagree on many things but most of this post of yours against NFP is right on target and needs regular attention and posting. What do you find substantively objectionable in Humanae Vitae and why?


13 posted on 07/17/2004 7:21:10 AM PDT by BlackElk (Dean of Discipline of the Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Club)
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To: Lauren BaRecall
If the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children, then, according to the cannon prior to 1983, was the marriage of a couple forbidden, if it was known prior to marriage that one or both of the partners could not have children?

Impotence was a grounds for annulment but not infertility. First of all, the marriage act must be consumated to complete the marriage. Secondly, the possibility of procreation must be present, which would not be true if it was impossible even to complete the marriage act.

However, infertility, perhaps because of an older, less scientific viewpoint, was considered too subjective to be a grounds. How could someone know for sure that they were "infertile"? There were always the examples of Sarah and Elizabeth to remind people that "you never know."

14 posted on 07/17/2004 10:19:09 AM PDT by Maximilian
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To: narses

Aren't there about 6 million children aborted per year as a result of birth control?


15 posted on 07/17/2004 11:24:12 AM PDT by Coleus (Abraham Lincoln was a trial lawyer.)
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To: Maximilian; BlackElk
What do you find substantively objectionable in Humanae Vitae and why?

Maximilian, I share this question with Black Elk. I'd really like to know, so I can have a background on your point of view.

16 posted on 07/17/2004 3:20:26 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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To: Coleus

Hmmm ... my sister is married to a Roman Catholic. They have three children, the youngest of whom is nine years old. My sister *chose* to have a tubal ligation. Her husband said that was her decision & did not try to stop her. One interesting comment she made was that she did not want her husband's sisters to know she had done it but that they were going to be suspicious anyway when she never became pregnant again. The whole intermarriage debate notwithstanding (and yes, I realize that as a Catholic, my b.i.l. is whimping out on his duties -- I had to tell him his kids asked ME what the statue of the lady was in my neighbor's yard and I said it was Jesus' mother and that if he wanted to further expound on my answer, he'd better hop to it ...),

I would like to ask the participants on this thread a couple questions:

If YOU are Roman Catholic, and you are married, how many children do you have? Are you finished having more children or is there a possibility you will add to your quiver?

I apologize for being nosey, but I am looking for some authenticity to these claims that good Catholics are hard-pressed to use even natural family planning with a clear conscience. I give you all due respect, and please answer only if you can comfortably disclose such specific info about yourselves. Thank you.


17 posted on 07/17/2004 3:36:16 PM PDT by JockoManning
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To: Maximilian
Impotence was a grounds for annulment but not infertility. First of all, the marriage act must be consumated to complete the marriage.

Generally speaking, we are in agreement here. First come the vows of the couple, received by a priest in the name of the Church, and witnessed by at least two people. Then comes the marriage act, which consummates the marriage. Impotence would make this consummation impossible, in addition to ruling out the possibility of fulfillment of the spouse's marriage rights. By the way, the only exception to this general rule, would be a "Josephite" marriage (i.e., like Joseph and Mary), which is very rare, and must be pre-approved by the Church.

Secondly, the possibility of procreation must be present, which would not be true if it was impossible even to complete the marriage act.

If one or both of the couple was infertile, and yet they can marry based on the possibility of procreation, how is this different from a fertile couple using NFP? I say this, because the possibility of procreation is still present in their marriage. True, the intentions are different, but if the primary purpose of marriage is to beget children, and as long as the existence of this possibility is considered as the basis for marriage, it can be said that both infertile as well as NFP couples have that possibility.

Can it truly be said that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children? Or can marriage be seen as a living model of the marriage between Christ and His Church, first and foremost? How can the Church permit Josephite marriages, however rare, if the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children? Or is there another aspect of marriage which is primary?

However, infertility, perhaps because of an older, less scientific viewpoint, was considered too subjective to be a grounds. How could someone know for sure that they were "infertile"?

Yes, but how about today? If a person is medically deemed to be infertile due to radiation treatments, for example, what then? What if a woman had to undergo a complete hysterectomy out of medical necessity? There would be a zero chance of her ever being pregnant.

There were always the examples of Sarah and Elizabeth to remind people that "you never know."

Of course I don't rule out miracles, but there are times when modern medical science can accurately assess an individual's infertility.

May a couple engage in the marriage act during those times of the month when a woman is infertile? How can this be morally right when the primary purpose of marriage, and therefore, of the marriage act itself, is to procreate children? To use traditional Biblical phrasing, wouldn't a man be "wasting his seed?" At those times, why would it not be unlawful?

Food for thought.

18 posted on 07/17/2004 4:35:01 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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To: 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; annalex; ...


19 posted on 07/17/2004 5:28:04 PM PDT by Coleus (Abraham Lincoln was a trial lawyer.)
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To: Lauren BaRecall; BlackElk
Maximilian, I share this question with Black Elk. I'd really like to know, so I can have a background on your point of view.

I hate to duck such a good question, but it's a big issue, and I simply don't have time today to write something. Hopefully I'll find time tomorrow.

I have written extensively on this topic numerous times here on FR. It's unfortunate that the search engine is so notoriously poor. But if you were able to do a search through Google or something, you might be able to find some of the pieces I've written here on FR in the past that explain why Humanae Vitae was the death blow to the traditional Catholic view of marriage.

20 posted on 07/17/2004 8:49:21 PM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Lauren BaRecall
Can it truly be said that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children?

I wish I had more time tonight to address more of your excellent questions, but as far as this point, most absolutely it is defined Catholic doctrine that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children, and that all other purposes of marriage must be subordinated to that primary purpose. This has been stated numerous times with the full weight of magisterial authority. Here is one good example from Pope Pius XII:

Pope Pius XII Allocution to Association of Italian Midwives

Now, the truth is that matrimony, as an institution of nature, in virtue of the Creator's will, has not as a primary and intimate end the personal perfection of the married couple but the procreation and upbringing of a new life. The other ends, inasmuch as they are intended by nature, are not equally primary, much less superior to the primary end, but are essentially subordinated to it. This is true of every marriage, even if no offspring result, just as of every eye it can be said that it is destined and formed to see, even if, in abnormal cases arising from special internal or external conditions, it will never be possible to achieve visual perception.

It was precisely to end the uncertainties and deviations which threatened to diffuse errors regarding the scale of values of the purposes of matrimony and of their reciprocal relations, that a few years ago (March 10, 1944), We Ourselves drew up a declaration on the order of those ends, pointing out what the very internal structure of the natural disposition reveals. We showed what has been handed down by Christian tradition, what the Supreme Pontiffs have repeatedly taught, and what was then in due measure promulgated by the Code of Canon Law. Not long afterwards, to correct opposing opinions, the Holy See, by a public decree, proclaimed that it could not admit the opinion of some recent authors who denied that the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of the offspring, or teach that the secondary ends are not essentially subordinated to the primary end, but are on an equal footing and independent of it.

I don't think it could be possible to be more clear, more strong, more definite, more forthright. And this statement has the ring of infallibility, ordinary rather than extraordinary infallibility, because the pope is calling as witness every source of Catholic doctrine, reinforcing the perennial and universal quality of the teaching, and then defining it as unquestionable and certain.
21 posted on 07/17/2004 9:18:28 PM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Lauren BaRecall; maximillian
Unfortunately, being aware that artificial forms of birth control are contrary to Church teaching doesn't necessarily mean that people know they're sinning if they use them. At least not in today's more secularized world, very sorry to say.

I disagree completely. The entire nation is aware that The CC is against contraception. Any Catholic who uses it is committing a grave sin, usually mortal. How culpable each person is we can't say, but that is true for any sin. As one poster has pointed out, there is no such thing as the "sacrament of ignorance". Just because people intentionally choose to remain ignorant of the truth does not let them "off the hook". The CCC #s 1740 and 1741 say that Catholics are under s serious obligation to form their consciences correctly. We are not talking of some obscure canon law that folks would not run into, but a fundamental truth that is critical to leading a holy life. Many of us are liable.

Some have said that Protestants as in the same boat. Meaning that, they too, are committing a mortal sin most of the time if they use contraception. The argument, I think, rests upon the natural Law.

22 posted on 07/19/2004 5:54:47 AM PDT by johnb2004
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To: johnb2004
I disagree completely. The entire nation is aware that The CC is against contraception. Any Catholic who uses it is committing a grave sin, usually mortal. How culpable each person is we can't say, but that is true for any sin.

You're right that it's pretty much common knowledge that the Catholic Church is against contraception. However, if I advise a woman about it, or call her on her using it, the reaction is pretty much that she knows she's/would be doing something wrong, and feels uneasy about it, but there's no "connect" to its objectively being a mortal sin. They know it's "wrong" - but the word "sin" feels harsh to them. Mortal sin? Oh, no...it can't be! Or so I've sensed in their reactions. "I'm not perfect," and "Jesus understands," seems to be the prevalent reaction I've heard, along with the reasons they can't be pregnant now.

As one poster has pointed out, there is no such thing as the "sacrament of ignorance". Just because people intentionally choose to remain ignorant of the truth does not let them "off the hook". The CCC #s 1740 and 1741 say that Catholics are under s serious obligation to form their consciences correctly.

As you implied, even though only God can judge the soul, each of us has the responsibility of forming our consciences correctly, and that involves our learning the Church's objective teachings concerning sin, namely, what is a sin, and *this* is a mortal sin, and *that* is a venial sin. Unfortunately, many people go about life, and religion based on feelings, rather than reasoning, and today, the world has run amok with it.

Since it seems to have become one of my life's missions (:oD) to deal with people who deal with life on the basis of their emotions, I know first hand how difficult and exhausting it is to try to help them to change gears from their emotions to their brains. If they stay stuck in their emotions, they really can't see the objective status of a particular sin. Objectively, they are committing mortal sins, and only God can judge how responsible and culpable they are. They're in God's hands, and I can't do anything more besides pray for them.

Faith, knowledge, understanding, and the application of moral laws do not happen in a vacuum. Much depends on the availability of an individual in a rational sense. There is a lot involved in the translation of the Law, from words on a page to that which God has "written in our hearts." And then there's application of the Law. The truth is universal at all times, and in all places, so the application of the Law is always possible, with the Grace of God. There's always an answer, although finding it can be a difficult prospect.

Some have said that Protestants as in the same boat. Meaning that, they too, are committing a mortal sin most of the time if they use contraception. The argument, I think, rests upon the natural Law.

I agree with you concerning Natural Law. As far as the Anglicans/Protestants go, here is an interesting article:

Protestants and Birth Control

23 posted on 07/19/2004 4:46:32 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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In addition, there are some who really know what they're doing and try to rationalize, or use other forms of avoidance, so they don't have to face facts head on.

That's all for tonight - I'm going to bed early. :o)
24 posted on 07/19/2004 4:51:39 PM PDT by Lauren BaRecall (Whoopi Goldberg: to the FReepers belong the spoils!)
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