. To teachers of Natural Family Planning
Natural methods strengthen harmony of married couples Natural family planning "supports the process of freedom and emancipation of women and peoples from unjust family planning programmes, which bring in their sad wake the various forms of contraception abortion and sterilization", the Holy Father said on 7 December 1996 to those attending a course for teachers of the natural methods of fertility regulation, sponsored by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. Here is a translation of the Pope's address, which was given in Italian.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters.
1. Once again this year the Catholic University's Study and
Research Centre for Natural Fertility Regulation is offering a
course to train teachers in the natural methods. This meeting is
particularly significant, because it is being held during the 20th
year of this centre's activity, an event recently celebrated with
a congress of international importance significantly entitled: "At
the Sources of Life."
On this occasion I am pleased to renew my sentiments of
appreciation and esteem for the work you have done, which is
better and better understood by the ecclesial community and by
medical and scientific circles.
2. The scientific validity of the methods and their educational
effectiveness makes them increasingly appreciated for the human
values that they presuppose and strengthen, when they are taught
and presented in a suitable anthropological and ethical context,
according to the wise directive expressed in Paul VI's Encyclical
<Humanae vitae> and so many times explained in subsequent
documents of the Magisterium.
Their humanizing character is all the more obvious from the fact
that using the natural methods requires and strengthens the
harmony of the married couple, it helps and confirms the
rediscovery of the marvellous gift of parenthood, it involves
respect for nature and demands the responsibility of the
individuals. According to many authoritative opinions, they also
foster more completely that human ecology which is the harmony
between the demands of nature and personal behaviour.
At the global level this choice supports the process of freedom
and emancipation of women and peoples from unjust family planning
programmes which bring in their sad wake the various forms of
contraception, abortion and sterilization.
3. But more immediately, your work each day is valuable and sought
after in parish communities and in diocesan centres for the
pastoral care of the family and life. In this regard, I wrote in
the Encyclical <Evangelium vitae> that "an honest appraisal of
their effectiveness should dispel certain prejudices which are
still widely held, and should convince married couples, as well as
health-care and social workers, of the importance of proper
training in this area. The Church is grateful to those who, with
personal sacrifice and often unacknowledged dedication, devote
themselves to the study and spread of these methods, as well as to
the promotion of education in the moral values which they
presuppose" (n. 97).
The moment has come for every parish and every structure of
consultation and assistance to the family and to the defence of
life to have personnel available who can teach married couples how
to use the natural methods. For this reason I particularly
recommend that Bishops, parish priests and those responsible for
pastoral care welcome and promote this valuable service.
With this hope, as I ask the Lord to constantly accompany your
untiring work, I sincerely bless you and with you the Catholic
University of the Sacred Heart, whose Faculty of Medicine and
Surgery promotes and supports your work, which is worthy of the
highest esteem and well-suited to the tasks and role of a Catholic
Taken from the January 22, 1997 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano".
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