Catholics using NFP solely to avoid pregnancy

This is a hypothetical question.

If there is a Catholic couple who was recently married, but one or both of them is not fond of having many children (but is perhaps okay with one or two), is it okay to use NFP to avoid pregnancy after they have one or two children?

This is assuming that they are able to have more children, just not willing. They didn’t block all chance of children, just limiting it.

Or would the couple be obligated in a way to have more children?

NFP even if used correctly opens each act of the marital union to the possibility of having a child from that union. They may use NFP to “avoid” pregnancy but the couple KNOWS & accepts that pregnancy is ALWAYS a possibility.

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The couple, with properly formed consciences, could feel they have an ongoing just reason to avoid for many years.

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Of course, but what if this reason is simply “I don’t want to deal with more children”? Is that morally acceptable still?

That is for the couple to discern, they are always free to seek their Pastor or their Spiritual Director’s guidance.

OP, you have asked two questions: “Is a married couple obligated to have a certain number of children?”, and, “Is it morally wrong not to want more children?”

The answer to the first is clearly no, and I believe that the answer to the second is also no, as long as the couple is open to the transmission of new life. As a practical matter, however, much of the Western world today suffers from a catastrophically low birthrate. Western societies are collapsing. Christians should ponder the need for more children.

I would suggest that such a couple needs to discern with their pastor why someone is simply “not fond of” having children. The Church doesn’t tell us how many we are to have, but does discuss this in terms of generosity towards life, and discerning serious or just reasons to postpone for a time or indefinitely.

I would suggest a person who has no actual reason needs to dig deeper to figure out what’s at the bottom of that. Couples should continually discern over the life of their marriage, not have some number in mind before they even get married.

Why are the not willing? that’s what they will have to explore and answer. They should read the documents of the Church on parenthood, on spacing/limiting family size, and then take it into prayerful discernment.

We can’t give you an answer, because this is a hypothetical and it’s not a yes or no type answer. It depends on whether the couple has discerned a reason in conformity with the morality of the Church.

just not willing

You are wanting a simple yes or no answer, and it’s not simple. The couple would be called to discern, continually, if they have a reason, if it is conformity with objective morality, and if it is still a concern or reason.

They are to take it into prayerful discernment. They would have to discern their financial, emotional, physical wellbeing, etc. And whether or not they could be open to a child at that time.

This is a hypothetical, therefore we can’t answer any further. Any specific couple is going to have a different answer because it depends. Each couple is different with their financial situation, their need to care for special needs kids, no special needs kids, care for aging parents, amount of help they have, emotional makeup, physical condition, age, and on and on.

You have to DISCERN. You don’t just make blanket statements, and if you don’t have an actual reason (“I don’t want to” isn’t an actual reason) then you need to keep discerning.


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