Skip to comments.(Fargo) Diocese set to require pre-marriage course in natural family planning
Posted on 07/20/2005 10:05:45 AM PDT by NYer
FARGO, N.D. (CNS) -- Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo has announced that engaged couples across the diocese will have to be instructed in the theology of the body and complete an approved course in natural family planning before they can marry in the Catholic Church.
He announced the new policy July 18. It takes effect Sept. 8.
The Fargo diocesan communications office said the Denver Archdiocese is the only other one in the country that requires completion of a natural family planning course before marriage. The Fargo Diocese covers the eastern half of North Dakota and has about 78,000 Catholics.
Bishop Aquila said the policy arose "out of a genuine concern for the right formation of conscience, the understanding of the truth, dignity and meaning of human sexuality and the responsibilities a couple accepts in married love."
"Through my personal experience in preparing couples for marriage and through discussions with priests, I have seen a great need for this instruction to help couples fully live the sacrament of marriage," he said.
"Young adults are bombarded with negative images of sexuality, with attitudes that demean the marital commitment and with lies about the so-called 'freedom' contraception provides," he added. "They need to know and they deserve to know the plan that God has for them regarding their sexuality and the conjugal love they will share as husband and wife."
The policy says that:
-- Couples preparing for marriage "shall receive an introduction to the church's teaching on conjugal love, modeled after (Pope) John Paul II's theology of the body during their interview with their parish priest, deacon or qualified married couple."
-- They will participate in a Marriage Preparation weekend that will include a presentation on natural family planning. It will also include at least a one-hour introduction to the theology of the body, which the late pope outlined in 129 general audience talks in the early years of his pontificate.
-- They must complete "a full course of instruction in a method of natural family planning" from an instructor approved by the diocese. A certificate of attendance is to be given to the parish priest, who is to place it in the couple's marriage file.
For couples entering a second marriage, past training and experience will be taken into account, the policy says. It says if they are still of childbearing years, the instruction in natural family planning is expected unless "previous equivalent training is already present."
Couples beyond childbearing years are to receive instruction in the theology of the body but need not learn natural family planning, it says.
Rachelle Sauvageau, director of the diocesan Respect Life Office, said she was impressed with those in the diocese who are serving as teaching couples. The teachers are listed on her office's Web site.
"They have used NFP, they have seen what it has done in their lives as a married couple and their relationships with God, and they are excited to share that message with others," she said.
The diocese is also inviting married couples to take instruction on natural family planning. Sauvageau said couples who have used artificial contraception may turn to natural methods "as they grow and gain a deeper understanding of each other and their faith."
We HAD to do this in 1962.
I'm still troubled by NFP.
We Catholics should accept children lovingly as a gift from God. I know no artifical means are used to prevent pregnancy, but we are actively working to prevent conception. I would like to see NFP as a way to increase the chance of conception.
But, as the father of five who wanted nine, I am probably in the minority here.
I'm a little confused by this too. I was married up in the Fargo diocese a while back, and we were required to take a NFP course at the time. Maybe it wasn't a diocesan requirement, but I thought it was. Theology of the body is new though.
This was a part of my wife's adn my pre marital counciling.
When I was growing up, we had a "marriage course" in high school which explained Catholic teaching (taught by a priest who was later kicked out for engaging in an illicit affair with a woman). Since the administrative structures of many dioceses have done a very poor job policing their own staff, these kinds of programs need to be watched VERY CLOSELY.
I believe the Catholic divorce rate has actually risen during the postconciliar years of the experimental marriage encounter weekends, pre-cana, etc.
We can worry about this in an ideal future when 80% of Catholics are using NFP or no birth control at all, rather than the other way around.
Until then, it is more important to teach the people not to sin and how not to sin, than it is to make them take on tasks beyond what they feel they can do.
We have two little blessings, and I would like at least two more!
(I should add that we're in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which is pretty darn conservative, and we had to go on a retreat weekend at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary for our pre-Cana!)
"to make them take on tasks beyond what they feel they can do"
I believe that God will never give us more than we can handle.
But I do agree that most Catholics do not understand the the Church's position on life.
Either you agree with the Church or you do not -lukewarm don't cut it...
I think this is wonderful news. I wish it were that way in every diocese across the US. I know there are concerns about divorce among Catholics and whether or not NFP would be used appropriately. Baby steps...one step at a time. Beginning with NFP may help curb the others. NFP saved our marriage. We used NFP to avoid kids for awhile but we finally grew out of that stage, too. We're open to what ever God sees fit for us. Not everyone can be "perfect" instantly. I really think this is a great idea and wish it had been mandatory when I got married. Might have saved us a few years grief!
"While I have no doubt that NFP may contribute to a marriage's well-being, the predisposition of the husband and wife and their openness to using NFP probably demonstrate that they are committed to making their marriage work in the 1st place."
My husband and I were seeing a marriage counselor at the time and he basically said we should get divorced. He wasn't very good at his job. I was packed and ready to go stay with my parents indefinitely when we signed up for this class. I guess I'm not the best communicator and the NFP couple were amazing. They explained everything I had been feeling in terms that my husband could understand. And since it wasn't coming out of my mouth, he listened. It was hard the first couple months of "training" but it really helped us talk to each other again, among other things! So maybe we were committed to staying together, maybe not. I'm just thankful every day that we did.