By Fr. Peter Vecellio, O.C.D.
From a national study done five years ago, 27% of Catholic women in the U.S. who attend Mass regularly accept the Church’s teaching on family planning. This means that around three-fourths of practicing Catholic women in the U.S. use artificial birth control. Given the proven adverse side effects of hormonal-based birth controls, it is surprising that more women are not rushing to natural methods of birth regulation. It seems that many American Catholic women have been misled by the blind defiance of a false feminism and an anti-Catholic culture of “choice.”
Unfortunately, Natural Family Planning is also not widely practiced in Uganda, but for different reasons. If there is a blind resistance to Natural Family Planning by Catholic women in the West, this is not the case with Catholic women in Uganda. I just spoke with a Catholic layman here in the Diocese of Jinja who is trying to promote Natural Family Planning among married couples to a greater extent. In his assessment, it’s not a matter of resistance but education. Many Ugandan women have never heard of Natural Family Planning. This explains the many large families here.
Now, large families are not a problem in itself. But there are children and families here fighting for survival. Immediately, western governments see this and want to coerce artificial birth control onto the culture. Birth control, in their minds, is the answer to overpopulation, poverty, hunger, and lack of education. But, in actuality, birth control has proven to breed not “responsible parenting,” but more irresponsible behavior. Natural Family Planning, on the other hand, promotes responsibility by its periods of abstinence and diligent but not arduous monitoring of menstrual cycles.
Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Calcutta) and her sisters have been teaching Natural Family Planning to some of the most illiterate and uneducated people throughout the world for decades. It’s not that difficult, but it requires discipline, something all of us could benefit from more in our lives. Not to mention, we could alleviate childhood hunger, neglect, and poor education by teaching Natural Family Planning to couples who are not in a place to have another child at a given time.