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Why is the Church opposed to birth control?

The Church’s teaching on artificial contraception is only one part of its understanding of human sexuality. This teaching sees sexuality as both a wonderful gift and an awesome responsibility, a precious part of God’s plan that has potential for great abuse.

Because sexual intercourse is designed to unite two people in an act of vulnerability and intimacy, it is reserved for married couples. And because God shares with us the ability to create life through lovemaking, it is imbued with special responsibilities, one of which is to be open to the procreative possibility of intercourse.

The Church, however, has become more sensitive in recent decades to the needs of married couples to responsibly space the births of their children, and as far back as 1951 Pope Pius XII taught that couples could reasonably avoid procreation for the entire duration of their marriage. Catholic teaching requires that this spacing occur naturally, using the biological ebb and flow of the woman’s fertility cycle. Natural family planning is not only a way to avoid or achieve pregnancy; it is also a way for couples to become closer through the shared task of charting fertile and infertile periods. Many couples report a greater knowledge of each other and a greater respect for God’s plan after practicing natural family planning.

The U.S. bishops’ 1990 document Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning also counsels pastoral sensitivity for “those who feel confused or who have genuine doubts about the wisdom of this teaching”. While stressing that they must present the living tradition of the Church with clarity and conviction, they also strive for compassion and care “for all those who seek the truth with a sincere heart.”
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