Was NFP ever banned by the Catholic Church?


I wasn’t sure what forum to put this, but in a recent debate, someone mentioned that the Catholic Church banned NFP at some point because it was making sex more for pleasure and not procreation.

I am not looking for this thread to turn into whether or not the Church should allow it, but just any information about it ever being banned before. I tried to look it up, but couldn’t find any information on it.



It’s up to the person making this allegation to prove it - in other words it is up to them produce the document that declared a ban on NFP. If they made the statement without evidence then they’re just being intellectually lazy and it’s not for you to do their homework for them!

Besides which, it’s asking the impossible of you to ask you to look through EVERY Church document in history just in case one of them bans NFP somewhere, which is what it would amount to!


I agree with you, but I like to be inform when I am debating. I hate to ask for proof, and I am quite sure I wouldn’t get any (probably getting the excuse, I know Catholics who have told me so, or something like that). This debate has been very trying on me and I have put up with a lot of belittling of my beliefs, rude, disrespectful, and sarcastic remarks, and it is very hard to keep my patience. I only continue it because other people are following along (it’s on another web board) and they are respectful and are truly trying to understand my (and the Church’s) position.

I basically came back with “It doesn’t matter if the Church had changed position, it matters what its stance on it is now” but expanded a bit. Do you think that was ok?

I would just like to tell them that they are misinformed (if they are) so they can’t use it in another debate with someone else.


I would ask my priest about history. He’ll ask more powers that be, and you can get your concrete answer.

I doubt that NFP has ever been banned. Try posing these questions to the posters on the other site.

Does your church demand that a married couple should have sex if one of the people is not in the mood, sick, or needing to work out conflict first?

Is the woman or the man the sexual slave to their mate in YOUR religion?

In Catholicism, sex is a mutually self-giving and life-giving activity. The self-giving is on the part of the people, and the life-giving is from the Holy Spirit. Couples only engage in sex when they can have all participants FULLY engaged in the activity. (Man, woman, God) If a probable pregnancy means that the man or woman or both would not whole-heartedly welcome God to bring a new life, they should abstain.

Does your religion ban knowledge about reproduction, fertility, and anatomy? Catholicism encourages all married women to know their bodies and the cycles they go through. NFP is part, but not all of that. In knowing your cycle, you can gently explain to your husband why your arousal may be lower at certain times of the month. In knowing your body’s fertility cues, you can plan conception better. It’s much more than just spacing births. It’s self-knowledge.

Do you discuss your periods with your husband? Do you discuss your cervix? Do you share with him if your breasts are tender? Lots of Catholics do. When the two become one, their bodies become one. All of a sudden, his life is influenced by her body and vice versa. Catholics embrace the human body as a great gift.

Get “The Good News About Sex and Marriage” by West. There’s lots of good ammunition in there for your fight.


No actually.

Doctrine does not change. Therefore, the Church’s teaching on this matter has not changed. Contraception and natural family planning are part of the moral law.

Disciplines can change. So, if were were talking about days of penance, fasting, etc, then yes this argument would be valid. All Fridays used to be days of astinence from meat, now only the ones in Lent are. Disciplines are changeable.

But, contraception and NFP do not fall under the category of discipline. They are doctrines.

Well, I would reference the Church documents all stating periodic continence is acceptable and then challenge them to produce the document that says it’s not.

The documents I would refer to are:

Casti Connubii paragraphs 53 & 59

Pius XII Address To Midwives sections entitled Birth Control and The heroism of continence

Humanae Vitae paragraph 16

Faithfulness to the Divine Plan in the Transmission of Life by John Paul II (entire document)



Okay, a while back this came up in conversation with a friend of ours (priest), and he said that up until the 1930s when everybody accepted that marriage WAS for the procreation, and people saw children as a blessing, and larger families were very much the norm, NFP wasn’t really used…(NOT forbidden in any way, just…no-one wanted to use it) Only when contraception became rampant and acceptable, and society changed to favour smaller families NFP came in vogue, and by then the Church said ‘Sure, it’s natural so you can use it if you discern could reasons!’

That makes perfect sense to me…because in my family every generation has had fewer and fewer children too, it’s ‘peer-pressure’ in a way.


There was a time when there were misunderstandings about marriage. St Augustine, for example, in ‘On the Good of Marriage’ seems to suggest that while sex is a mortal sin outside of marriage, it is only a venial sin inside marriage, and should only be engaged in for procreation. This had a big impact on medieval theology. The early Syriac church also had excessive reverence for celibacy, and suggested that nobody would achieve perfection unless at some point in their life, even after marriage, they embraced celibacy. There are some Eastern churches of the Syriac tradition that still don’t view marriage as a sacrament, but replace it with the Sign of the Cross as number 7 in the sacramental table. In that situation, marriage and sex are seen as a necessary evil rather than a blessing.

I think it’s fair to say that this was never the doctrine of the church, only a commonly held misunderstanding. Our understanding of the blessings of marital love continue to grow through the Church’s connection to the Love of God. Thanks be to God.


What’s the priest equivalent of an “old wive’s tale?” This has no basis in fact, Anna.

NFP didn’t exist then. NFP has only been around since the late 50s/early 60s. The calendar rhythm method was known in the early 20th century-- from around the 20s to the 50s.

Before that, complete abstinence and ecological breastfeeding spaced children. And, there were plenty of people who did abstain due to health concerns for the mother.

You are absolutely correct that large families were more highly valued than small families in prior generations, but abstaining to space or regulate births was not unheard of and it was used when needed.

Casti Connubii references periodic continence and it was written in 1932, before contraception was ‘rampant’. The Church has always maintained that periodic continence is acceptable. It didn’t just start saying so in the 1960s.

There are many factors that have influenced family size. This is a whole thread by itself!! :slight_smile:


KB - I am not an expert on NFP, and I am *sure *those more knowledgeable will correct me, but what you heard in that “debate” may be the result of a misinterpretation. Although never formally banned by the Church, NFP can be sinful and thus the Church can be against it, as She is against all sinful acts.

[FONT=Arial]NFP can be used to assist couples in having children and is the only Church approved form of birth control when a couple decide to postpone or deny children for serious reasons. If the couple does not have good cause to delay or deny childbirth, then NFP becomes another form of banned contraception.[/FONT]

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