nfp question

I just read on a website that a couple can use nfp to abstain for financial reasons, but they must be pretty much serious poverty issues.

Can a couple not abstain from the chance of pregnancy because they’re simply not done with finding a career, or low on expendable cash for hospital visits and things for the newborn? That sort of stuff that would get in the way of providing the best household for a child? :confused:

No this information is incorrect. The Church leaves it up to the decision of the couple about what they are able to manage financially, or any other resource, with regards to the moral use of NFP. Please be at peace about this.

Do you care to share the website where this misinformation is being promoted?

This is 100% correct. Opinion on this topic varies and is rampant, the couple prayerfully makes their decision.

Thanks guys.


It’s between the couple and God to decide whether they could welcome another child into the family at any particular time. The Church has never made any specification as to what is considered poverty levels.
Each family is different and manages everything differently.

The Church is located all over the world in places we could never imagine. My husband and I are both unemployed and are barely scraping by each month to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. We know we need ot wait to have another child for an indefinite period of time until someone finishes their education and finds a better job. But, compared to Catholic famililes in India, parts of Africa and other poverty stricken places througout the world, my family is really lucky to have a house and good food to eat every day.

Even between first world families there is a difference. A mother who has spent years raising a family on her husband’s salary of less 40k a year could actually see herself welcoming another child into her home before a mother whose husband made twice that but suddenly is now laid off.

Wow, I am disturbed that Taylor Marshall is the one responsible for promoting this extremely strict interpretation of the Church’s teachings. Plainly put, he is wrong, and is demanding more of Catholic couples than the Church Herself does. We are neither required to use spiritual direction to discern the use of NFP, nor or we required to submit to any other theologian’s opinion of what constitutes serious reason. In another thread recently on NFP, a forum member quoted several key passages in papal writings that explicitly stated that various serious reasons exist, that the couple is the only entity that may discern, that they are not required to undergo spiritual direction. I will go see if I can find that reference. If I am successful in locating it, I will copy or link it up here.

In paragraph 2368 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states that couples may wish to space their children for “just reasons.” The only qualification is that the couple must “make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood,” and that they “should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality.” In paragraph 2370 it speaks of natural family planning as being in conformity with “the objective criteria for morality.” There is no mention of the necessity of seeking spiritual direction or that the reasons for wanting to limit family size have to be extreme. The couple must decide what constitutes responsible parenthood for them. Let’s not make things harder for couples than what the Church asks.

From the Ask An Apologist Forum

This question concerns resources other than financial, but the answer is still quite relevant.

I have searched for the quote dealing with who has the right and authority to determine what constitutes a just reason for the use of NFP, but thus far I have been unsuccessful in locating it. But I would like to offer this list of magisterial documents with sections pertaining to NFP. If anyone can add to this list, or can supply the quote for us, many thanks.

Here is a short list:
Casti Connubii
Address to Midwives
Gaudium et Spes
Humanae Vitae

As a convert, I have had an opportunity to peruse these encyclicals but I am not as familiar with navigating through them and my ability to recall relevant portions is not yet where it should be, so I apologize for not being able to give a better answer at this time.

Thank you! This is quite a succinct presentation. I don’t know why I forgot about the catechism.:rolleyes::blush::thumbsup:

What website was that?

Websites say lots of things. That doesn’t mean they are accurate.

The fact is that the Church teaches we must have serious reasons. The Church does not define serious reasons, as it expects each couple to discern this in prayer.

So, any website that says X or Y is or is not a serious reason is giving an OPINION, not a CHURCH TEACHING.

You will find people out there posting and blogging online that think everything is a serious reason and others who think nothing is a serious enough reason, and people in between.

It is for you and your spouse to discern through reading Church documents such as Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae, and forming your conscience-- the reasons must be serious and discerned through prayer, and in conformity with the moral teachings of the Church.

That is for the couple to discern through prayer and study of Church teaching, and perhaps the counsel of their pastor.

If the couple continues to focus on providing the “best” household for their child, they may never have children… the “best” is always over the horizon. Don’t get trapped into thinking babies need lots of stuff, or a grand house, or whatever. They don’t. They simply need parents that love them. There are plenty of Catholics in 3rd world countries who have babies living in a hut with a dirt floor and no indoor plumbing. Are they not giving their children the “best” household?

What is the “best” household? It is one filled with love for each other and the Lord.

Speak Kindly said:

“I just read on a website that a couple can use nfp to abstain for financial reasons, but they must be pretty much serious poverty issues.”

You’ve just read on another website that other faithful Catholics disagree.

Read through Humanae Vitae and, if still in doubt, talk to your pastor.

We’ve had a number of raging discussions on this subject recently, and I think there’s a tendency to (perhaps unconsciously) misrepresent documents.

I also suggest reading the Pius XII’s Address to Midwives yourself. Pius XII lists serious reasons. Here’s a quote you may find helpful:

“Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life.”

Note that Pius XII thinks that “serious motives” do “not rarely arise.”

Interestingly, unlike your blogger source, Pius XII does not go into great detail with regard to how serious those medical, eugenic, economic and social reasons need to be. Some people have a very, very bad habit of taking this document, analyzing it in the most restrictive way, and then representing that interpretation to the unwary as the actual papal text.

Reading the original documents yourself is a very good idea and will almost certainly put your mind to rest.

Best wishes!

Here’s an example of over-restrictive analysis from the blog post.

Pope Pius XII says, "“Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life.”

Taylor Marshall reads “social” reasons to mean: “The Holy Father refers here to serious social disorder. Social disorder doesn’t include, “the Democrats won Presidency again.” Social disorder refers to serious problems in which raising children would be almost impossible. Wars. Viking Invasions. Concentration Camps. Black Plague. Hiroshima. Floods. Perhaps even China’s one child policy.” Wow–the word “disorder” wasn’t even in Pope Pius XII’s and it somehow turns into the crucial term in Taylor Marshall’s analysis of “social” reasons.

I just started reading the comments and the first one was so funny!

lmc said:

"So let me get this straight…my floors are tile and not dirt, I don’t have multiple personalities, I don’t live in a concentration camp and my first five weren’t born with fins, so it’s time to get pregnant again? My twins are only seven months old, but by this post I suppose I should look at it as “already seven months old…”

Come to think of it, spacing of children probably falls under the “social” category, although it might also be medical and economic.

Yes, you demonstrate precisely the strictness Taylor Marshall uses that disturbed me so much.

For me, a just social reason is that I live over 600 miles away from any family, and we have been unsuccessful in finding any trustworthy person locally to help me with childcare in any way. Any doctor visit or appointment to which I must go but cannot bring my children, my husband must take a day off work. Each time we get pregnant, I spend half the pregnancy wondering how in the heck I am going to find someone to watch my children when I go to the hospital to deliver the baby. This time around, because my most trustworthy friends will have newborns, I am likely to need to be alone at the hospital while my husband stays home with the children. To me, these are very serious concerns, that would be considered “social” in nature, because I really have no social support system. These are not easily dismissed.

Here’s the key thing to remember. God made us, ALL of us. He designed us, body and soul. Our bodies and souls work together according to that design. The NFP user doesn’t really need to conduct a phd thesis analysis of his/her reasons for avoiding pregnancy. They remain connected to the self-correcting mechanisms God built into the marital relationship.

The contraceptive user, on the other hand, has profoundly altered the nature of the sexual relationship between spouses. The natural body/soul link has been disrupted such that the mechanism God designed to force the couple to regularly LOOK at and agonize over their “just reason” for avoiding pregnancy is gone. Pop goes the pill and no need to think on it.

It’s not a coincidence that in EVERY nation where contraception is socially respectable and widely available, populations there aren’t having enough babies to replace themselves. Every single one. Powerful evidence of the disruption that occurs when people treat their bodies as if unrelated to their souls.

Pope Paul VI stated that when considering whether or not to have another child, a couple must consider the welfare of themselves, the children they already have, and those they may have in the future. Consequently this should be the focus of your decision.

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