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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Traditionalists Screw Up NFP

Some Catholics are upset with recent statements by Cardinal Kaspar concerning natural family planning. According to the UK Telegraph:
Cardinal Walter Kasper said it was “the responsibility of the parents” to decide how many children they should have.
Correct. The Church does not mandate that every married couple have a certain number of children or, that once they are parents, they must have a certain number of children in order to avoid being in sin. So how is this new? And why would Catholics object to any priest or cardinal pointing this out?
He also said that so-called natural family planning, which is promoted by the Church as an alternative to contraception, also has an “artificial” element.
Correct again. There is nothing natural about a thermometer (only invented in the 1600s) and there is nothing particularly natural about observing cervical mucus and using one's reason to discover why it looks the way it does. Human rationality is participation in the divine rationality of God - it is supernatural, not natural. The charting of days, the use of paper, pencil and mutually agreed meaningful signs (writing) on paper by the pencil in order to keep track of the signs of fertility - exactly how is this not artificial, that is, how it is NOT the result of artifice?

Do you see squirrels and moose engaged in such behaviour?
If so, why is the video not on Youtube?

Kaspar is giving standard Catholic teaching.
The newspaper is putting a secular spin on it.
This shocks someone?

Ladies and gentlemen, it's called "natural family planning" not because it is what the birds, bees, flowers and trees do, but because it is in accord with human nature.

Sadly, even Catholics no longer appear to understand this...

And since I see the traditionalists yelling about this the loudest, I must conclude that they are the most ignorant of these points of Faith.



Look, here's a thought experiment:

Let's say we have two identical heterosexual couples, in both of which the woman is carrying a child who will be born prematurely. The first couple gives birth in the woods, amongst the birds, bees, flowers and trees. Seeing the child's precarious state, they immediately abandon the child on an anthill after giving birth. This allows the forest to benefit from the child's death as the various vegetation, insect and animals slowly consume the dying child and the nutrients from the resultant corpse.

The second couple, however, gives birth in a hospital. This child is immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). While in NICU, the child is hooked up to literally dozens of beeping machines, is subjected to constant needle sticks and computer monitoring as dozens of technicians work to save the child's life.

Which is more natural?

According to natural law teaching, the second is natural, the first is not. In the first birth, the parents act against human nature by refusing to image the loving God who gives existence to all things. They refuse to assist their own child by trying to keep him alive. Instead, they act like animals and abandon their child to the elements.

Meanwhile, the second couple acts in the image and likeness of God by trying to help another image and likeness of God, their own child, live. Not only that, the entire community answers the call to image God, and everyone works to care for, love and save the child's life, offering up their work, tears, sacrifice and prayers so that the child might live.

The cross was made with human hands. The bread and wine at the altar are the work of human hands. The work of human hands is artifice - it is, technically, artificial. Artifice, also known as "art", is an act of creation that uses created things, forms them in new ways, and thereby attempts to image the original Divine creation of the universe out of nothing.  There is nothing wrong with creating or using something "artificial" - we are supposed to do that. It is, as Tolkien points out, one of the ways we image God, by being sub-creators.

The error comes when we use artifice, the artificial, to avoid imitating God. The natural law encourages, even requires, that we create and use artificial things. We must, if we are to imitate God, if we are to use our reason to its fullest extent. It is only when we use the artificial to shut God out instead of invite Him in, it is only then that we have violated the natural law.

The natural law isn't about Nature, red in tooth and claw. It is about the Natures that, in the person of God, were nailed to the Cross and sanctified by the red Blood and Body of Christ. The Cross is the result of artifice, it is artificial, but because it unites us with God, it sanctifies the artificial. Thus, it is actually a compliment to call NFP artificial, if we use it to draw closer to God.


Kevin Tierney said...

Can you show me links where trads are complaining about Cardinal KASPAR?

Actually, there's kind of a point to this nitpick. You don't really get what they were complaining about, just as you kept botching KASPER's name. But accuracy in reporting names and ideas is secondhand to trying to score cheap points.

Like I said Steve, the professional circut kicked you out, but they couldn't take the professional circut out of you.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


Ah, I love traditionalists!

The facts are lovely, dark and deep,
But they have ad hominem to keep,
And long tirades before they sleep,
And long tirades before they sleep.

Kevin Tierney said...

Well I suppose we can do this:

You're far too interested in trying to score polemical points, that you get increidbly sloppy. You botch names, you misunderstand points, but hey, you've got an agenda to promote.

This is the nature of the Catholic blogosphere, where tribal loyalty and polemics trump trying to think rationally.

Really, what do you expect me to say? Since you've proven you didn't really read any objections, you just saw "TRADS need attacking", so you invented a straw man.

I suppose you are a better poet than blogger though, stick to that.

justaseminarian said...

Actually Steve, I would say that you are only half correct. In the speech of Pius XII (which was written down and therefore carries Magisterial weight) he said that having children is an OBGLIGATION of married couples. If serious reasons exist, which he lists, it can be morally permissible to regulate birth. BUT these serious reasons must truly be serious. I know a couple who is using NFP but gets a dog, goes on vacation, and uses economic reasons as the basis for their decision to use NFP to regulate births. I think Traditionalists are fighting against this contraceptive mentality which is present even in the NFP culture. Also, theologians have interpreted Pius XII to mean, since he uses the plural word "children" that there is a MORAL obligation to have more than one child. At least two. Yes, not everyone will have this moral obligation, but seeing as the first end of marriage is the begetting and raising of offspring, I dare say most have this obligation. God bless!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"(which was written down and therefore carries Magisterial weight)"


You're right - you're just a seminarian. Why don't you learn a bit more about the Magisterium before you make any more assertions about how Magisterium becomes Magisterium?

"Written" has no necessary correlation with "Magisterial weight".

But, to be fair, you are a traditionalist, so there is no way you would really know how the Magisterium works.