«Unfortunately, on this matter the Catholic thought is often misunderstood, as if the Church supported the idea of a non-stop fertility, urging married couples to procreate without any judgment or any plan in mind. However, it only takes an accurate reading of the pronouncements of the Magisterium to see that it isn’t true». These are the words of John Paul II of July 1994.
He also added: «As they consider the decision of generating or not generating life, they must let themselves be inspired not from egoism or superficiality, but from a prudent and conscious generosity, which may evaluate the possibilities and the circumstances […] Therefore, when there is a reason not to procreate, this choice is permissible and may even be necessary. However, there remains the duty of carrying it out with criteria and methods that respect the total truth of the marital act in its unitive and procreative dimension, as wisely regulated by nature itself in its biological rhythms. One can comply with them and use them to advantage, but they cannot be “violated” by artificial interferences»
It’s also interesting to read the recent article of Dr. Gregory K. Popcak, director of the Catholic organization “Pastoral Solutions Institute”. He wrote: «Catechized by friends, family, and the media who all think the Catholic Church hates sex –unless it’s being used to keep a woman barefoot and pregnant–many couples don’t believe the Church has anything good, much less useful or interesting, to say about sex. If you are one of those couples. Welcome. […] But let me share something with you that your friends, family, and the media don’t know. […] The Catholic Church–in fact, God–wants you to have an amazing sex life that will only become more passionate the longer you are married».
This July US News & World Report ran an article with the headline “Devout Catholics Have Better Sex, Study Says”. The article draws on the statements of the “Family Research Council“, based on decades of research and especially on a study of the University of Chicago which found the most enjoyable and most frequent sex occurring among those married couples who attend church at least once a week (the article then cites other studies that have nothing to do with the topic, referring to them as foregoing studies). Popcak, who also wrote many books on the Catholic catechism of sexuality (such as “Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving”), explained the reasons for such results: in order to have a satisfactory sexual intercourse it is necessary «to bring your whole self (physical, relational, spiritual) to the experience. You have to be comfortable with your body (the physical dimension). […] Leaving out any one of these three dimensions makes sex less interesting and less pleasurable. Devout Catholics, especially those using NFP, are prepared to bring all three of these dimensions to their marital sexuality. […] NFP couples are intimately aware of the body, […] Likewise, NFP couples are challenged to communicate on a deeper level than other couples about the nature of their desire for each other, for children, and for other needs and concerns. Finally, NFP couples realize that sex isn’t just a physical act but a spiritual one». (Just think about the “Song of Songs”)
He goes on: «devout Catholics are better lovers because we understand that sex isn’t just about sex. It’s ultimately about becoming better, more passionate, more authentically loving people and the joy we experience in the bedroom is a sign of that effort we make 24/7 to become what God is calling us to be. […] Because they know that being great lovers doesn’t just refer to what goes on inside the bedroom but also to how they relate to each other all day long, they make a conscious effort take better care of each other in every aspect of their lives».
Sexuality is a gift from God and this is why it is to be taken seriously, but certainly it isn’t to be opposed. The Church never did that, despite what many people think. In fact, complete abstinence is a vocation that few choose (priests, nuns and so on) and it isn’t required from every Catholic. At the same time, sex isn’t to be interpreted only as having procreation goals: procreation should be a responsible act subjected to the virtue of prudence and if this virtue demands a break in the procreative act, then married couples can benefit from the natural periods of infertility of the woman. This is also because sex has a unitive goal. The Church teaches us that when you have good reasons not to procreate (such as medical, economical, social reasons, as pope Pius XII explained), this choice is legitimate and it could even be necessary. The thinking of the late Dr. Bruto Maria Bruti is useful to delve into this topic.
There remains the duty of carrying out this non-procreative sexuality with criteria and methods that respect the total truth of the marital act, as wisely regulated by nature itself in its biological rhythms. All those couples who attend premarital counseling organized by the Diocese know this very well; they are taught NFP methods to control fertility. You can read on the “Roman Observer“: «The Church agrees with the natural control of fertility, that is to say, with those methods based on the understanding and the respect of the hints and messages conveyed by our body». Popcak concluded: «Maybe the Church really isn’t doing this because it wants to meddle in your life. Maybe the Church really does want to help you experience all the passion and love God wants to give you. Maybe the Church really does have something to say that your friends, family, and most of the media doesn’t have the first clue about».
The editorial staff