Natural Family Planning Program
Helping married couples to deepen conjugal love and achieve responsible parenthood is part of the Church's total pastoral ministry to Catholic spouses. Fulfillment of this ministry includes both education and pastoral care. This means "instilling conviction and offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way" (Familiaris consortio, 35).
God designed marriage as an "intimate partnership of life and love" (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). In God's design, marriage is a unique union of one man with one woman "for the whole of life" (see Canon 1055, The Code of Canon Law). Marriage is oriented to the good of the spouses and to the creation and nurture of new human life (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). Making decisions therefore, about when and how many children to have in marriage is a sacred responsibility that God has entrusted to husband and wife. This is the foundation of what the Church calls, "Responsible Parenthood," the call to discern God's will for your marriage while respecting His design for life and love.
The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God's design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because these methods can be used to both attempt or avoid pregnancy. When learning about NFP, it is important to know that:
- Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid conception. These methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Some natural methods include use of fertility monitors to better understand the time of the wife's fertility. Married couples using NFP to postpone conception abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the wife's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. Married couples who use NFP to attempt a pregnancy, make use of the fertile window--the optimum time when conception is likely.
- NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife. (Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p. 23)
This section of the USCCB website provides information and resources that will help you to learn about the methods of Natural Family Planning and Catholic teaching which supports its use in marriage. Many of the resources here are tailored for diocesan NFP coordinators, teachers, and educators.
A Pastoral Response to Church Teaching on
Married Love and the Gift of Life
|The papal encyclical, Humanae vitae written by Pope St. Paul VI in 1968, captures the truth and depth of Catholic teaching on married love and the gift of life. In 2018, the Church celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of this important encyclical. Many resources produced in the anniversary year are classic and can be helpful in NFP education. Below we offer a selection of these resources.
- Humanae vitae, Pope St. Pope Paul VI (1968)
- Humanae vitae Events and Resources
- The HUMANAE VITAE 50TH ANNIVERSARY SYMPOSIUM held at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC on April 4-6, 2018 and co-sponsored by the bishops' Committee for Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth and funded in part by Our Sunday Visitor Institute. The papers from this important event are published by The Catholic University of America Press. To view videos of the presentations see the USCCB YouTube page. To learn about Catholic theological defense of Humanae vitae visit "Affirmation of the Church's Teachings on the Gift of Human Sexuality," The School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America.
- Humanae Vitae, 50 Years Later, Embracing God's Vision for Marriage, Love and Life, A Compendium is available from The Catholic University of America Press (2019). Edited by Theresa Notare, Ph.D., Assistant Director, NFP Program, USCCB, this book features the papers from the 2018 Humanae vitae 50th anniversary symposium held at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (April 4-6). Orders, 1-800-537-5487. The book received a 2020 Catholic Press Association award for second place in the category of anthologies.
- Humanae vitae 50th Anniversary Prayers
Permission is granted for copying and reprinting all NFP information on this website. Please cite the source of the information and unless otherwise noted, please include the following text: "Used with permission from the NFP Program, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved."
Natural Family Planning Program
Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life & Youth
3211 4th Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
Telephone: (202) 541-3240