Does the post-conciliar promotion of NFP conform with the Church's teaching and practice on periodic abstinence for extreme cases?
Both the secularization of society and the Modernist crisis of the Church have negatively impacted the sacrament of Matrimony and consequently the family. Amongst the varied problems afflicting the Catholic family of today, is the ubiquitous promotion of Natural Family Planning (NFP), the calendric method of abstaining from marital relations to avoid pregnancy.
Indeed, the practice of NFP is now so widespread in the Conciliar Church that it has given rise to a new official "ecclesial" position: the NFP counselor. This person (more often a woman) has the job of teaching couples how to ensure they will not bear children until they deem this desirable (as if this were a matrimonial option).
While the Church has allowed periodic abstinence amongst married couples, this has always been extraordinary (for extreme cases) and only for a limited time according to the circumstances, but not as a normal state of married life as is being commonly touted and practiced today.
Certainly the erroneous reversal of the ends of marriage by Vatican II in Gaudium et Spes (and consequently its teaching via the New Catechism; see Mass and the Sacraments) has contributed to a more widespread adoption of an "NFP mentality" amongst Catholic couples.
However, such an attitude was being warned about by pastors (and others) even as early as the 1940s. These cries of alarm were accompanied by an examination of NFP's related negative effects, such as spousal infidelity, dissatisfying marriages, unfulfilled motherhood, and subsequent psychological issues. They also took head-on the false claims that NFP was a form of spiritual asceticism and even the practice of prudence.
We have just made available again two such articles for the benefit of our website readers who wish to know more about this important issue, one from 1948 and the other from 1969: