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God designed marriage as an "intimate partnership of life and love" (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). In God's design, marriage is a unique union of one man with one woman "for the whole of life" (see Canon 1055, The Code of Canon Law). Marriage is oriented to the good of the spouses and to the creation and nurture of new human life (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). Making decisions therefore, about when and how many children to have in marriage is a sacred responsibility that God has entrusted to husband and wife. This is the foundation of what the Church calls, "Responsible Parenthood"--the call to discern God's will for your marriage while respecting His design for life and love.
The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God's design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because these methods can be used to both attempt or avoid pregnancy. When learning about NFP, it is important to know that:
Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife. (Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p. 23)
This section of the USCCB website provides information and resources that will help you to learn about the methods of Natural Family Planning and Catholic teaching which supports its use in marriage. Many of the resources here are tailored for diocesan NFP coordinators, teachers and educators.
NFP Site Map
This link provides a listing of the content subjects provided in this section.
On October 19th, 2014 the Extraordinary Synod on the Family closed and the beatification of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI was celebrated. We remember Pope Paul VI with deep gratitude for his prophetic insights into conjugal love and responsible parenthood especially as seen in his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae.
Please join us in asking for the intercession of Pope Paul VI for all
families, that they may joyfully discover and live God's beautiful plan for
married love and life. Servant of God Pope Paul VI, pray
for us! More...
Alice and Jeff Heinzen, a married couple, parents of three adult children, grandparents, NFP teachers, and long-time marriage ministers from the Diocese of LaCrosse, are auditors at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome. Read their reflection which they presented to the synod fathers on October 7th here. (Read more ...)
Helping couples to deepen conjugal love and achieve responsible parenthood is part of the Church's total pastoral ministry to Catholic spouses. Fulfillment of this ministry includes both education and pastoral care. This means "instilling conviction and offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way" (Familiaris consortio, #35).
Natural Family Planning Program
Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life & Youth
3211 4th Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
Telephone: (202) 541-3240
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