I am aware that the Catholic Church in the 20th and 21st centuries recognizes both a unitive and a procreative side to the marital sex act; that is, it creates children, and it brings husband and wife close together to form a stable home in which those children can be raised. When the procreative aspect no longer obtains due to, for example, menopause in the wife, the unitive aspect means that the marital sex act is still valid and holy. This was expressed in post #20 of this thread:
This is the situation that my wife and I find ourselves in. We’re both pushing 60; she’s obviously post menopausal, and furthermore she had female surgery back in the '80s. On top of that normal stuff, I had a vasectomy in the '70s while I was still living as a lower-case-p pagan, so we’re both non-fecund, and it would take a creative miracle by God for either of us to be fertile again.
(For the record, if my wife suddenly did become pregnant, we would 1) have a BIIIIIIIG gulp, 2) welcome the child, and 3) finance his/her college education by selling our story to the highest-bidding tabloid.)
The thing is, I am getting a mixed message between what the Church teaches now, and what the early Fathers said. In this article…
…in the January 1996 issue of This Rock, there are several patristic quotations that seem to indicate that non-fecund intercourse is wrong. The simplest statement is that of Clement of Alexandria: “To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature.”
A couple of questions arise out of this:
- Was this the actual teaching of the Church at this time, or are these Fathers expressing their personal opinions?
- If this was the teaching of the Church at the time, then when and why did it change into what it is today?
Note that if “having coitus other than to procreate children” is in fact a sin, then that knocks the foundation out from under NFP, when NFP is used to schedule intercourse so as to avoid pregnancy.
I’m confoozed. (Not for the first time, certainly not for the last.)