Excuse #9: Some of Our Pastors Say: “The People Are Not Ready.”
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB & Fr. Dan McCaffrey
We wonder why so few dioceses promote a full course in NFP for all couples preparing for marriage. There are 195 dioceses in the USA, but less than a dozen have made NFP a requirement for a good marriage.
What is holding this back? Why the hesitancy? What are they waiting for?
Here are some of the excuses we hear, and here are our replies to these excuses.
“The people are not ready for this.” We ask, “Who has catechized the people better, the secular mass media, or the Church?” By far, the media has made a greater impact upon Catholics. The media pounds a relentless drumbeat in promoting contraception and sterilization. It ridicules anyone who challenges them. Catholics have not heard a similar advocacy of NFP and chastity from their moral guides. Many teachers of NFP complain about the dearth of support they receive from the clergy. The people are ready for a strong and confident initiative. They wonder when it will come. Of course, those Catholics who want the Church to “modernize” itself are very pleased with the status quo.
“There are not enough teachers of NFP to take care of all the demands, if we make NFP a requirement.” This demonstrates a remarkable lack of faith! We are dealing with something very important here: God’s plan for Spousal Love. Are we to presume that God will not provide the means to accomplish his plan? The laity are 99.9% of the Church. Marriage preparation and teaching NFP are largely the tasks of the laity. This is part of the Lay Apostolate.
If there is a shortage of NFP teachers in a diocese, it is usually because there is such a small demand for their services. Most NFP teachers complain of a shortage of clients. They would be delighted if their pastors would encourage all couples to learn NFP. It is our experience that when faithful married couples see that a diocese is seriously addressing the great problems of marriage and family, then they perceive that the Holy Spirit is calling them to help with the solution. Among the 99.9% of the Church there is a huge untapped reservoir of people who will answer this call. One diocese has 35 teaching couples, and still uses this lame excuse for not making NFP mandatory. Another diocese has a major NFP provider in its backyard, yet thinks it does not have sufficient resources to move ahead.
This is the Year of the New Evangelization. This is the perfect time to re-propose God’s wonderful plan for marriage, spousal love and family. Every thinking person knows that marriage and family life are fraught with problems today. They are in a very fragile condition, and could easily unravel still more. Contraception and sterilization are the taproot that feeds this debilitating condition. Contraception leads to more divorce, more promiscuity, and to more abortion. Contracepting parents do not generate generous sons and daughters who will serve the Church as religious and priests.
What are we waiting for? A sign from heaven? We already have it. Just look at what contraception has done to our marriages, to our families and to the Church. Now is the time to re-propose God’s plan with conviction and by taking the initiative. The Church has a hierarchical structure. Leadership must be seen at the top, if the grass roots people, the 99.9%, are to be motivated to become effective.
Now is the time for our shepherds to trust in the Lord, and to begin to implement His plan for marriage, spousal love and family. The Mid-Western dioceses have many advantages in this regard. Now is the time for the clergy of the Mid-West to keep their gaze upon the Lord, as they proceed to propose and implement His plan for His people.
We ask our leaders: “What have you to lose by taking a ‘calculated’ risk on God’s plan for his people?” We can help you by giving clergy conferences on the topic: “How to Preach God’s Plan for Marriage, Spousal Love and Family from the Pulpit.” People want to hear this message, and we can deliver it in a winsome way.
Let us begin to re-propose God’s wonderful plan marriage, spousal love and family. Let us start the return to committed marriages, a low divorce rate, strong relationships, openness to children, and healthy, happy families. Isn’t it true that everyone is ready for this? Then what are we waiting for? If you agree with this analysis, then pass it on to your favorite clergyman.