We see a lot of discussions here about what constitute “valid” reasons for NFP, about couples who “abuse” NFP, and so on. While such confusion is understandable, it is helpful to look at the first ever Magisterial pronouncement on the use of such methods:
The date was 1880, under the Pontificate of Pope Leo XIII.
The following query was submitted to the Sacred Penitentiary by a Fr. Le Conte:
Questions: *1. “Whether married couples may have intercourse during such sterile periods without committing mortal or venial sin?”
- “Whether the confessor may suggest such a procedure either to the wife who detests the onanism of her husband but cannot correct him, or to either spouse who shrinks from having numerous children?”*
The response was as follows:
“Married couples who use their marriage right in the aforesaid manner are not to be disturbed, and the confessor may suggest the opinion in question, cautiously, however, to those married people whom he has tried in vain by other means to dissuade from the detestable crime of onanism.”
Note that the above document is uncontroversial even in Traditional circles, and is cited with approval even on Sedevacantist sites, so we’re not talking about “modern innovations” (sarcasm intended!) here.
Note that the reply -
- does not answer the second question (“shrinks from having numerous children”) directly.
- provides a valid reason for NFP which is seldom discussed, namely, to dissuade a spouse who is in favour of using artificial birth control (in this context, onanism = coitus interruptus; in those days, there were no “pills”)
- recommends that the confessor suggest this method to those who struggle with sexual sin within marriage
- mentions the word “right” in the first sentence, suggesting that this method can be open to abuse.
Nothing much has changed today, has it?