Hello, Father, how are you?
I hope you’re well…this is not the first time that I write to you and you’ve always given me useful advice about how to behave in several vicissitudes of my life. Now I still need your help: I’m the father of two wonderful children and my wife is expecting another one. We don’t know if it’s male or female yet, but we don’t care about this.
Today I’ve been discussing with my wife and we agree that this would be the last pregnancy (also because this will be the third C-section and she can’t risk her health facing another one).
We’re discussing what to do and a friend of her has advised the use of the contraceptive coil (IUD).
We try to be Christians and educate our children as Christians and we don’t know how to act in the future.
Can you give us some advice about this question, especially according to the teachings of the Church?
Thank you. I wish you good health and a good night’s rest.
Answer of the priest
1. First of all, I’m pleased with the beautiful family the Lord has given you.
“Certainly, sons are a gift from God” (PSa 127,3).
During the general audience of 17thAugust 1994 John Paul II has said that “children are heaven’s smile bestowed upon the earth. They are the family and society’s real jewels. They are the delight of the Church.
They’re like the lilies of the field of which Jesus said that “not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them” (Mt 6, 28-29). They are the favorite of Jesus and the Church and Pope can’t help but feel in their own hearts, the feelings of love for them in the heart of Jesus.
Precisely because they are the favorite, God has a particular care for children.
Your and your wife’s children are a permanent blessing for your family because the Lord generously reciprocates for you for whatever you do for him in serving each of your children.
2. Now let’s talk about the question you asked. Let us just say that the Lord provides also to your needs.
He provides for your needs in a way that doesn’t offend marriage or even the dignity of the spouses.
As you might have guessed, the right way is the way of natural methods. This is what the Church’s Magisterium has always indicated since these methods were discovered.
3. In the encyclical Humanae Vitae, Paul VI said that responsible fatherhood is expressed also in the “awareness of, and respect for, biological processes” (HV 10).
And he reminded that “God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws” (HV 11) and that “married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth” (HV 16).
4. The encyclical keeps in mind an objection often supported: both natural methods and contraception are ways one uses to ensure that one does not have children.
The Pope said:”But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another” (HV 16).
On this matter in the exhortation Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II noted that this abstention during fertile periods is part of marital chastity. “In the Christian view, chastity by no means signifies rejection of human sexuality or lack of esteem for it: rather it signifies spiritual energy capable of defending love from the perils of selfishness and aggressiveness, and able to advance it towards its full realization” (FC 33).
5. John Paul II reminded us also that the Church, as Mother, is close to the many married couples who find themselves in difficulty and “she knows that many couples encounter difficulties not only in the concrete fulfillment of the moral norm but even in understanding its inherent values” (FC 33).
And that, as Teacher, the Church “never ceases to exhort and encourage all to resolve whatever conjugal difficulties may arise without ever falsifying or compromising the truth: she is convinced that there can be no true contradiction between the divine law on transmitting life and that on fostering authentic married love” (cfr. “Gaudium et Spes”, 51).
Accordingly, the concrete pedagogy of the Church must always remain linked with her doctrine and never be separated from it. With the same conviction as my predecessor, I therefore repeat: ‘To diminish in no way the saving teaching of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls’” (Humanae Vitae, 29).
6. Well, this is the doctrine expressed by Paul VI in the encyclical Humanae Vitae.
This is the doctrine he taught “by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ” (HV 6), so reminding us of the authority of his pronouncement.
Here is what he said after condemning voluntary abortion and sterilization for contraceptive purposes: ”Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means” (HV 14).
7. The use of coil as IUD is one of the worst pieces of advice which that friend of your wife could have given her, because the coil causes abortion.
Coil (IUD) does not prevent conception but it avoids the implantation of the baby just conceived, so the baby is expelled and dies.
8. Paul VI keeps in mind that spouses often find themselves in difficulty observing God’s law.
That’s why he says:”If, however, sin still exercises its hold over them, they are not to lose heart. Rather must they, humble and persevering, have recourse to the mercy of God, abundantly bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance” (HV 25).
9. But if the sin consists in the purpose of systematically eliminating the baby whenever he’s conceived (as happens using the coil), they go against not only the sixth commandment but also they go against the fifth one which prohibits killing. In this case the sin is worse and the priest can’t give absolution without the willingness to immediately eliminate the coil.
10. Here you have the doctrine from which emerges the need for teaching natural methods during marriage preparation courses.
John Paul II in FC affirms that “one of the necessary conditions” in order to exercise responsible fatherhood is “the knowledge of the bodily aspect and the body’s rhythms of fertility. Accordingly, every effort must be made to render such knowledge accessible to all married people and also to young adults before marriage, through clear, timely and serious instruction and education given by married couples, doctors and experts” (FC 33).
I thank you for the question you’ve asked me.
I wish you well and I remember you and all your beautiful family to the Lord.
I bless all five of you, one by one.