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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