Ca t ho l ic D io c e s e o f R ic hmo nd
Proclaiming the good news
about God’s sacred gifts of
THE NFP MESSENGER life, sexuality, and fertility
A Second Chance for One More Soul
IN THIS ISSUE
Like many other Catholic couples, Rich and Anne Miller were
sterilized after their third child. After learning the truth about sex and
marriage, however, they experienced a conversion that led to a Instructor’s Forum 2-3
vasectomy reversal—and another beautiful child.
World Religions & 4-5
By Misty Mealey Sexuality
Around the World 6-7
N ine-month-old Mary
Kathryn Miller crawls
across the berber carpet in her Medical Minutes 8
parents’ softly-lit living room.
Her father, Rich, lays on the
floor nearby. Reassured by his
In the News 9
presence, little Mary attempts to
stand, but misses her hold and One More Soul
instead crashes into a chair leg. 10
The room is suddenly filled
with intense screaming. Her
mother, Anne, scoops her Cover Story, con’t 10-12 10-
daughter up, begins stroking her
hair, and whispering a mother’s
consolation. In seconds, the The Miller Family this lovely young mother. She settled
baby is quiet, having nestled her three children in a side room and
snugly into her mother’s shoulder. One might easily imag- took a seat in the front row.
ine it was her goal all along. The lecture went well and Anne approached me after-
Most who would observe this scene would be touched. wards. She asked if she could write me about a personal
But for me, it was even more poignant to witness the love issue. The next day, I received her e-mail asking for ster-
between this couple and their child. Two years ago, God ilization reversal resources. Although Anne was a cradle
had allowed me the privilege of playing a small role in Catholic, she had recently had a conversion to the fullness
their decision to reverse their vasectomy and turn their of faith and wanted to reverse the procedure so she and her
fertility over to Him. I couldn’t help but think as I watched husband could try to have more children. There was only
little Mary Kathryn that she epitomizes what it means to one catch—her husband, Rich, wasn’t yet aware of her
be “a new creation in Christ.” plans. She asked me to pray for them.
A Providential Meeting Poor Catechesis
My friendship with the Millers began in September 2004, My meeting with Anne that fall was the culmination of a
as I was setting up a room for my first lecture on the long, painful journey from secularism to genuine faith that
faith—a defense of Humanae Vitae. Anne Miller was the
first to arrive, and I was struck by the uncommon grace of Continued on page 10
Meet the Instructors:
Mary and Steve Butler
M ary and Steve Butler of
Blacksburg have been
instructors through the Couple
of importance of NFP. Our
deacon invites us to speak to
engaged couples every spring
to Couple League since 2001. and fall. While several
engaged couples are usually
Please share your history
curious about NFP, it is often
with NFP and describe seen as something interesting
how you decided to and healthy, but not necessar-
become instructors. ily important. Most couples
Mary became Catholic about a do not attend a class. Of
year into our marriage. During course, when you look at it
RCIA, our priest touched from an engaged couple’s
briefly on the sinfulness of point of view—they don’t
contraception, but told us to know anyone who uses NFP,
pray and decide on our The Butler Family they have never heard it
own. We had never heard of mentioned by a priest, and
NFP, so we thought it was contraception or nothing. We their doctor either has no idea what they are talking about
chose to stay on the Pill. or dismisses it as ridiculous—how important can it be?
We learned about NFP two years later, during a Bible
study with other young married couples. They were happy What do you see as the biggest challenge in
with NFP and gave us some information. It was the first convincing people to use NFP over
time anyone had shared accurate information with us contraception?
about NFP and the Church’s teaching on contraception.
We were upset we had been involved in such serious Contraception is easily available, recommended by
sin and immediately discontinued the Pill and set out to doctors, covered by insurance, and used by almost every-
learn NFP. But we were frustrated to find there were no one you meet. It’s always hard to turn people away from
local instructors. We eventually called the Couple to something so ingrained in our society in favor of
Couple League and ordered a home study kit and learned something that sounds strange and possibly unreliable.
NFP on our own. After a few years, we went to a CCL NFP can also seem like a hassle. Contraceptives are
convention and talked to a leader getting easier to use than ever. It’s
about becoming a teaching cou- difficult to convince couples to use
ple. CCL arranged teacher training in Teaching Tip something that requires classes and a
our town. commitment to daily temperature and
Don’t denigrate contraception; mucus observations. Using NFP
What is your most positive just tell your story and then seems like a great commitment
teaching moment? explain how NFP works. When compared to contraception.
It is rewarding when an engaged
we share how NFP positively How have your experiences as
couple learns about NFP, finds that it changed our marriage, people instructors changed your
really does work, and goes from respond less defensively and tend perspective on marriage and
unsure to excited about it. We also to be more open to learning more sexuality?
love to run into couples years later about NFP. When we were first married, we were
and meet their children and find that terrified about pregnancy and raising
they are still using NFP. -Mary and Steve children. We thought about sexuality
as separate from family. Now it’s a
What has been your biggest package: marriage, sexuality,
frustration as NFP teachers? children. After using NFP for 11 years, we can’t imagine
not being open to more children.
We’re frustrated by the lack of interest and perceived lack
Bishops Explain Church Teaching on Married
THE NFP MESSENGER Conjugal Love in New Q&A Document
A t their general meeting last
November, the full body of U.S.
bishops approved a new teaching
resource, Married Love and the Gift
The Diocese of Richmond of Life. The document provides an
Office of Justice and Peace explanation of Catholic teaching on
811 Cathedral Place conjugal love and responsible parent-
Richmond VA 23220-4801 hood in an easy-to-read question and
In Married Love and the Gift of
Life, the bishops remind couples that
God intends for them to have a joy-
filled marriage. This union begins
Michael Stone with promises made to each other at
the altar: “In the Rite of Marriage a
Publisher man and woman are asked if they
will love one another faithfully and
totally—in short, if they will love as
Misty Mealey God loves.” These promises find
their fulfillment in the sexual union.
For many who have only known
the secular vision of sexuality, how-
ever, understanding how profound
and meaningful the sexual union is
and how it embodies the promises of
marriage can be difficult. “Our
For a complete list of NFP culture often presents sex as merely
instructors available in the recreational, not as a deeply personal
Diocese of Richmond, see: or even important encounter between
www.richmonddiocese.org spouses,” the bishops write. “In this
nfp/instructors view, being responsible about sex
simply means limiting its conse- only with words, but with the
quences—avoiding disease and using language of their bodies. “That ‘body
For the USCCB’s
contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.” language’—what a husband and wife
NFP Homepage, see: God’s plan for married life and say to one another through the
www.usccb.org/prolife/ love is far richer and more fulfilling, intimacy of sexual relations—speaks
issues/nfp however. “Marriage...is a ‘great of total commitment and openness to
mystery,’ a sign of the love between a future together. So the question
Christ and his Church (Eph 5:32),” about contraception is this: Does
To submit an article, comment, or the document states. “This ‘mystery’ sexual intercourse using contracep-
question to The NFP Messenger, is powerfully embodied in the tion faithfully affirm this committed
contact NFP Coordinator Misty spouses’ sexual relationship, when love? Or does it introduce a false note
Mealey at 540-525-1635 or they most fully express what it means into this conversation?”
firstname.lastname@example.org. to become ‘one body’ or ‘one flesh.’” The document is sold in pack-
Connecting this biblical view to ages of 10, and can be bulk ordered
the issue of contraception, the bish- by calling USCCB Publishing at
ops draw on John Paul II’s “theology (800) 235-8722 or visiting
of the body” teachings, explaining <www.usccbpublishing.org>.
that spouses express their love not
How Do Other Religions View Sex and Marriage?—Part 2
This issue, we continue our exploration of how other world religions approach the issues of sexuality, marriage, and
First, we will review Mormonism, a distinctly American religion founded by Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. Then
we will revisit the roots of our Catholic faith with a review of the teachings of Judaism. References for more information
are included on page 5 for those who would like to learn more.
Mormonism—Core Beliefs and Sexual Ethics
T he Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) has approxi-
mately 12 million members worldwide. According to
U.S. News & World Report, the LDS faith (also called
outside marriage are
contrary to God’s
Mormonism) is the fastest growing religion in America; if plan. “God has com-
present trends continue, there could be 265 million Mor- manded that the sa-
mons worldwide by 2080. cred power and privi-
The LDS Church was founded on the revelations of lege of sexual rela-
New Yorker Joseph Smith, who, at age 14, prayed to learn tions be exercised
which church he should join. According to Smith, God the only between a man
Father and Jesus appeared to him in 1820, and taught him and woman who are
that while God did reveal his truths to the apostles during legally married,” the
Christ’s lifetime and even after his ascension, many of church teaches.
Our Lord’s teachings were changed after the apostles died. Homosexual acts
This “apostasy,” or falling away from the truth, was to be violate this “law of
corrected through revelations to Smith. (LDS members see chastity.” Abortion is
the establishment of their church as fulfilling Peter’s also condemned.
The Mormon Temple in
prophesy in Acts 3:19-21 that Jesus would restore his Contraception
church before his second coming.) Smith claimed that he historically has been Salt Lake City, Utah
continued to be visited by other heavenly messengers, who considered contrary
helped him translate a new testament (the Book of to God’s plan for marriage, but in recent times church
Mormon) and gave him authority to organize Christ’s leaders have softened their stance. “We seriously regret
church. He officially established the LDS Church in 1830. that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any
The LDS Church’s structure, as well as many of its members of the Church to curtail the birth of their chil-
teachings on sexuality and marriage, are strikingly similar dren,” wrote LDS leaders as recently as 1969. “We have
to Catholicism. The church operates as a hierarchy, with been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that
headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The church is led by we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity. [I]t is con-
a “president and prophet,” who is assisted by two counsel- trary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or
ors (these three make up the “First Presidency”) and 12 prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who
apostles. Local congregations are led by bishops. practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by.”
The current position, however, articulated to church lead-
Citing Genesis, the LDS Church’s official position is ers in a 1998 handbook, states that family planning “is
that marriage is a central part of God’s plan for men and extremely intimate and private and should be left between
women. Like Catholicism, the LDS faith teaches that the couple and the Lord.”
marriage has two purposes: unity of the spouses and the
procreation of children. To Mormons, however, marriage Sterilization, however, is condemned except when a
is not just until death; once “sealed” in marriage, a faithful pregnancy would jeopardize the wife’s life or health. The
husband and wife will be together in heaven. family members of a mentally incompetent person also
can choose to have that person sterilized, as long as the
Children are considered a gift from God. “Human life family consults with the local bishop and “receives divine
is sacred and should be treated with reverence from its confirmation through prayer.”
beginning to its end,” according to the church.
Judaism—Core Beliefs and Sexual Ethics
J udaismofisthe Torah lawsobser-
based on the
ted because of the injunction against
“the destruction of seed.” For example,
to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. contemporary Orthodox and Conserva-
It is a monotheistic faith, one of tive rabbinical authority has expressed
the oldest religious traditions still no objection to the Pill, but condoms are
practiced today. As of 2006, ad- forbidden, as are some uterine devices.
herents of Judaism numbered Most Reform and some Conservative
around 14 million. rabbis subscribe to the licitness of
Judaism’s central authority is planned parenthood and Reform Juda-
not vested in a person or group ism has no problem with condom use.
but rather in its writings and tradi- Even in the more liberal movements
tions. The varying interpretations in Judaism, however, contraception is
of these mean there are several still opposed when practiced for purely
different traditions within Juda- selfish reasons. But it is considered
ism, the most distinct being the acceptable under many conditions, such
Orthodox tradition, the Conserva- as when pregnancy would harm the
tive movement, and the Reform movement. According to mother, in cases of previous birth defects, or in cases of
traditional Jewish belief, God created the world, estab- extreme poverty, inadequate living conditions, and threats
lished a covenant with the Jewish people, and revealed his to the welfare of existing children. The Central Confer-
laws and commandments to them in the form of the To- ence of American Rabbis (Reform) goes so far as to de-
rah. The practice of Judaism is devoted to the study and clare that birth control is a necessity under certain family
observance of these laws and commandments, as written conditions.
in the Torah. Generally speaking, Orthodox (and some Conserva-
Marriage is vitally important in Judaism. Refraining tive) Jewish couples would consult with their rabbi about
from marriage is typically considered unnatural. Tradi- family planning, who would analyze their situation and
tional sources recognize that companionship and intimacy decide not only what method of birth control should be
are marriage’s primary purposes, noting that woman was used, but for how long the couple should use it.
created in Gen. 2:18 because “it is not good for man to be Jewish law regarding abortion hinges on the belief
alone,” rather than because she was necessary for procrea- that a baby becomes a full-fledged human being when the
tion. head emerges from the womb. Before then, the fetus is
Marital relations are acknowledged as a right of both considered a “partial life.” If the pregnancy threatens the
spouses. Niddah laws mandate a physical separation mother’s life, most Jews would say it is not only licit but
between husband and wife beginning with the onset of necessary to abort the unborn child (the “partial” life) to
menstruation. During menses and for a time afterward, the save the mother (the “full” life). But in most cases, abor-
wife occupies a different ritual status. (Men, too, are tion is forbidden.
categorized by ritual status in Jewish law, so this is not
peculiar to women.) Ritual status has nothing to do with LDS Sources:
physical purity or cleanliness. The couple may resume 1. McKay, David O. Conference Report, October 1943, p. 30.
relations after the wife’s immersion in the waters of a 2. First Presidency, Letter to presidents of stakes, bishops of
mikvah (ritual bath). wards, and presidents of missions, 14 April 1969.
3. 1989 General Handbook of Instructions, Chapter 11.
Jewish law traditionally opposes birth control, sterili-
4. 1998 Church Handbook of Instructions.
zation, and abortion when practiced for selfish reasons.
The first command in the Torah is to have children, to “be Judaism Sources:
fertile and increase.” The number of children that fulfill 1. Feldman, David. Birth Control in Jewish Law: Marital Rela-
the command to be fruitful, however, is a matter of rab- tions, Contraception, and Abortion As Set Forth in the Classic
binic dispute. Some rabbis say one must have at least two Texts of Jewish Law. Aronson Publishers, 1998.
children, and some say at least one of each sex. 2. “Jewish Perspectives on the Birthing Experience.” mik-
However, as long as a couple intends to have children, vah.org, accessed December 15, 2006.
planning pregnancies is not a problem for most Jewish 3. “Ask the Rabbi.” judaism.about.com, accessed December 14,
traditions. Orthodox Judaism is more concerned with the 2006.
4. “Jewish Views on Contraception.” www.answers.com, ac-
birth control method used; some methods are not permit-
cessed December 15, 2006.
Around the World
African Nations Continue to Resist Modern Family Planning Agendas
Family planning programs in Africa must respect the people’s moral values and the strong
desire for children that most Africans still have, says one Ugandan doctor.
I n the November 2006 issue of The Lancet, population alarmists bemoaned African nations’ resistance to modern
family planning agendas. More contraception, insisted the authors, would avert maternal and childhood deaths,
reduce poverty, increase women’s empowerment, raise educational levels, and protect the environment. Contraception
will not only solve Africans’ “problem” of high fertility rates, but would serve as a virtual panacea for most national
Ugandan doctor Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige disagrees. Dr. Kakooza says family planning promotion in her country
is not stalled, but must respect the moral values of Ugandans and the strong desire for children most Africans still have.
among married women has shown that difficulty becom-
The Lancet claims that the family planning agenda in
ing pregnant (23%), fear of side effects (18%) and a desire
developing countries has stalled. Is this true for Uganda?
for more children (11%) were most commonly cited.
Dr. Kakooza: No. The Family Planning Association of This shows that married Ugandan women still value
Uganda operates in over 30 districts. The Ugandan Gov- marriage and wish to be open to life, as marriage should
ernment amongst other activities has also set up the Health be, and bring forth the children that they are able to have
Communication Partnership to help the Ministry of Health under the circumstances. Data also shows that the desire
and partners implement their National Reproductive for many children is strong in Uganda, with 14% of
Health Communication Strategy, with an emphasis on women with six or more children stating that they would
family planning. want to another child.
Acceptance of some family planning methods is still a
The Lancet acknowledges (with disappointment) that
bone of contention, especially within Islam and Catholi-
most Africans want large families. But it also talks about
cism, which do not favor any contraception. To quote the
“unwanted births,” or an “unmet need” for contracep-
words of retired Catholic cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, “It
tion. Is this correct in your view?
is true we are citizens of this world. We are members of
our communities. We do not live in ghettos. We are Dr. Kakooza: Generally speaking, Ugandan couples want
entitled to equal treatment. We are entitled to enjoy the to space their children rather than limit their families. The
same rights. But we must reject lifestyles which are term “unmet need” is used to refer to both “spacers” and
incompatible with the Christian faith and way of life.” “limiters” not contracepting, though their attitudes are
different and so are the methods they use. Similarly,
To what extent are Ugandans using family planning?
“unwanted births” does not mean the same for both.
Dr. Kakooza: According to the 2000-2001 Uganda
Demographic Health Survey, the contraceptive prevalence The Lancet says: “In Uganda, population is projected to
rate among married women using any method is 23%. grow from 30 million today to 61 million by 2025, and
This represents a steady increase since 1988, when the further to 127 million by the middle of this century, pos-
figure was 5%. Overall, the most commonly used methods ing huge difficulties for economic advance. Yet President
are injectables (6%), Lactation Amenorrhoea Method Museveni's lack of concern over the burgeoning popula-
(4%) and the pill (3%). Compared to other eastern and tion goes unchallenged.” Your comment?
southern African countries where similar data is available,
Uganda’s low contraceptive use is only higher than that of Dr. Kakooza: These are exaggerated figures given by the
Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. authors to gain sympathy for their argument, which is un-
The low contraceptive prevalence in Uganda may founded. The population of Uganda according to the Na-
indicate that some of these methods are still not acceptable tional Housing and Census Report of 2002 was 24.4 mil-
to women, or that access to them is limited. However, lion. Considering a 3.3% annual growth rate, the popula-
investigation of the reasons for non-use of contraceptives tion now stands at about 27.6 million. It is a predomi-
“Ugandan women still value marriage and wish to be open
to life...data shows that the desire for many children is
strong, with 14% of married women with six or more children
stating they would want another child.”
nantly young population (children below 18 make up 56% have more money
of the population) but this can be to our advantage. Our to spend on our-
difficulties with economic progress hinge on other issues, selves and our
not a burgeoning population. own pastimes.
With fewer children to support, it is assumed everyone
The Lancet blames population increases for high will have a much higher living standard.
maternal and childhood death rates. Is this true?
The authors talk openly about the need to change the
Dr. Kakooza: The naturally growing population in
African culture regarding family size. They see the need
Uganda cannot solely explain the high death rates in these
to create moral “legitimacy and awareness” of contra-
groups. The maternal mortality rate is certainly high, at
505 per 100,000 live births, but to solve this the focus
should be on health care. There is a great need to improve Dr. Kakooza: What we are seeing across Europe is
access to quality maternal and neonatal care. shrinking of the young and productive population and
The infant mortality rate is mainly due to conditions expansion of the aging and heavily-dependent population.
like malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, or HIV/AIDS-related Increasingly they rely on the immigrant population with
opportunistic infections. Rather than curbing the popula- their larger families to fill this gap. So what will happen if
tion, we need to set up simple, cost-effective management they shrink our populations, too? Our culture should be
strategies to treat and prevent these conditions. emulated instead of being discouraged.
Birth control can give Uganda the “gift of demographic
modernization,” according to The Lancet. Is this a good Dr Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige is a pediatrician working
sales pitch for Africans? in Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala,
Uganda. This interview is courtesy MercatorNet.com.
Dr. Kakooza: No! This “gift of demographic moderniza-
tion” is selfish propaganda: with fewer mouths to feed, we
(Another) Bishop Endorses Condom Use to Fight AIDS in Africa
W hen the Ugandan government adopted a campaign in the 1990s to fight AIDS based primarily on promoting
abstinence and marital fidelity, the nation’s infection rate plunged from 30% to 6%. Since succumbing to inter-
national pressure to promote condom use, however, the nation’s AIDS rate is rising again.
Despite this trend, a Dutch Catholic bishop thinks condoms are a good solution to Uganda’s AIDS crisis. In Septem-
ber, Bishop Martinus Muskens of the diocese of Breda traveled to Uganda to support AIDS activists who advocate
condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. Muskens added his voice to the growing number of dissenting European
Catholic prelates who have claimed that condom use could be a possible moral “option” in the fight against AIDS.
Bishop Muskens made his comments at the request of an Amsterdam-based group, Stop AIDS Now!. The organiza-
tion’s director, Sjoera Dikkers, said that while the “Vatican” is adamantly opposed to condom use, Bishop Muskens’
comments were proof that “there was room for maneuver” within the Church’s stance. Dikkers has stated previously that
condom use is the “only” method that can prevent the spread of AIDS.
Martin Sempa, a Ugandan minister and AIDS activist, stated at an AIDS conference in August 2006 that the interna-
tional pressure to promote condom use has more to do with imposing a liberal and feminist ideology on Uganda than
actually combating the disease. “To win the battle against HIV/AIDS, the world needs a major attitude adjustment away
from a love of promiscuity to responsible sexual behavior,” Sempa said.
Older Mothers May Pass on Impaired Fertility Massage Technique
Opens Blocked Tubes
The closer a new mother is to menopause when she gives birth,
the more likely her daughters will suffer fertility problems, a new
A new pelvic therapy that feels
similar to deep tissue massage
has enabled physical therapists to
open totally blocked fallopian tubes,
W omen who delay having children could be putting the fertility of their
daughters at risk, researchers claimed at an October 2006 conference
for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in New Orleans. A new
according to a study published in the
September 2006 issue of Fertility and
study found that the decline in fertility seen in older women causes genetic Sterility.1
damage to eggs that is passed on if they conceive, causing reduced fertility in The “Wurn Technique” was used
their female children. on eight women with completely
Peter Nagy, of Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta, Georgia, blocked fallopian tubes. The women
asked 74 women attending his fertility clinic about their parents’ ages when also suffered from hydrosalpinx,
they were born and the ages at which their mothers reached menopause. The meaning that their tubes were not only
women were then divided into those who had successful pregnancies and blocked, but filled with a liquid
those who failed to become pregnant. considered toxic to embryos. One
The study found that the women who became pregnant had slightly patient had only one tube and it was
younger parents, with fathers aged 28.2 and mothers aged 25.7, compared blocked, but conceived naturally and
with the women who failed to conceive, whose parents were on average 31.9 gave birth after receiving the therapy.
and 28.2 years old. Half of the women had at least one
Researchers also found that women who failed to conceive were born to tube opened by the therapy; half of
mothers who were on average five years closer to menopause. The study sug- those became pregnant naturally and
gests that the nearer a woman is to menopause when she gives birth, the gave birth.
higher the chance her daughter will have impaired fertility. Researchers found
that the father’s age had no significant effect. Although the study group was
That older mothers may pass on impaired fertility to their daughters is small, fertility specialists are calling
significant considering that just two yeas ago, the number of babies born to the results impressive. Until now,
women aged 30 to 34 overtook the number born to women aged 25 to 29, surgery was the only treatment for
according to the U.S. Office for National Statistics. women with blocked tubes.
Extra Iron May Boost
New “Pill” Temporary Sterilizes Men Fertility in Women
B ritish scientists have developed a new contraceptive pill for men. The
tablet would prevent a man from being able to impregnate a woman by
eliminating ejaculation and creating a “dry orgasm.”
W omen who take extra iron may
dramatically reduce their risk
of developing ovulatory infertility,
Researchers began developing the contraceptive after noticing that some according to a study published in Ob-
drugs used to treat schizophrenia and high blood pressure also prevent ejacula- stetrics & Gynecology in November
tion. After pinning down how the drugs stop ejaculation, London researchers 2006.2
set about creating tablets that do the same thing but without side-effects of the During an eight-year follow-up of
regular drugs. nearly 20,000 women, researchers
The new pill would only cause temporary infertility and its effects would found that women who took regular
wear off within a few hours. Other male birth control pills are under develop- iron supplements had a significantly
ment, but most are based on hormones that trick the brain into switching off lower risk of ovulatory-related infer-
sperm production. The other drugs are being developed into pills or patches tility when compared to women who
that would require daily use, or injections and implants that would require didn’t take supplements.
long-term use. The new drug is hormone free. Developers are hoping the tem-
porary effect will make the drug more appealing to both sexes. Wurn, L.J. et al. “Treating hydrosalpinx
with a manual physical therapy.” Fertility
The new pill is expected to be on the market in less than five years. and Sterility, Vol. 86, Issue 3, p. S307.
In the News
Diocese Gains New Filipino Diocese and Government Agencies
Certified Instructor Sign Historic Agreement to Promote NFP
I n July, the diocese gained another
USCCB certified NFP instructor:
Jamie Walker of Virginia Beach.
Jamie has nearly three decades A Filipino diocese may become a
model for church-state coopera-
tion in promoting NFP.
of experience teaching NFP. He and
his wife, Helen, have been instruc- In December, the Catholic
tors through the Couple to Couple Women’s League of the Archdiocese
League since 1980. of Cagayan de Oro signed an agree-
An important part of Jamie’s ment with the Population Communi-
interactions with clients is sharing cation and the Department of Health
the physical, emotional, and spiritual to promote an NFP program in north-
benefits that he and his wife have ern Mindanao, the second largest
experienced since they abandoned island in the Philippines.
contraception for NFP early in their The groups will share resources
marriage. “When couples share their and conduct joint training of health
struggles, Helen and I can easily workers, parish coordinators, hospi-
relate, because we also struggled and tal-based coordinators, population
made mistakes on our journey to program officers and workers, village
acceptance of NFP.” volunteer workers, chapel providers,
Jamie tirelessly works to inform and others interested in becoming
others about the benefits of NFP and NFP providers.
the hidden risks of contraception. At The consortium will promote five
least two NFP-only physicians— methods: lactational amenorrhea
Dr. John Bruchalski of the Tepeyac method, cervical mucus method, Long-time NFP promoter
Center in northern Virginia and Dr. Standard Days Method, basal body Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma
Mary Yeungert of Newport News, temperature, and sympto-thermal spearheaded the program. He urged
credit Jamie as having played a method. The Filipino government has the groups to create an NFP culture in
significant role in their conversions committed more than $1 million (US) the Philippines that would benefit
to practicing medicine in accord with to the program. couples and make them responsible
their Catholic faith. parents.
Most Americans Have Premarital Sex, Study Claims
A study claiming premarital sex is the “normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans” needs to be duplicated
before its results can be trusted, say pro-life organizations.
In December, a new report by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, found that 99
percent of Americans had sex by age 44, and 95 percent had done so before marriage. Author Lawrence Finer based the
study on interviews with more than 38,000 people for the federal National Survey on Family Growth. The study
purportedly examined how premarital sexual behavior has changed over time.
According to Finer, even women born decades ago were just as likely as men to engage in premarital sex. He
claims the study shows the likelihood of Americans having sex before marriage has remained stable since the 1950s.
Older Women Fueling Out-of-Wedlock Births
O ut-of-wedlock births have reached a record high, with nearly four in 10 U.S. babies born last year to unmarried
women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase was seen in all racial groups.
Unlike decades ago, the trend is fueled not by teenagers but by women in their 30s and 40s, many of whom put off
marriage for careers. Married women also are having babies later, researchers said. More than a quarter of the 4.1
million babies born in 2005 were to women ages 30 to 54.
Organization Connects Couples with Docs Millers, continued from page 1
Who Offer Deep Discounts for Reversals
mirrors the path of many “reverts” who
discover the truth and beauty of their
M any couples come to regret their sterilization and would like to
reverse their tubal ligation or vasectomy. But while insurance
typically offers massive discounts for sterilization, reversals are rarely
Rich Miller was raised Catholic, but by
covered at all. On average, the out-of-pocket cost for vasectomy reversal the time he went to college, his family only
is $10,000, while tubal reversal can cost up to $15,000. Many couples attended Mass on major holidays. And al-
may despair of ever affording a reversal. though Anne’s father came from a large
One More Soul (OMS) may be able to help. Started in 1993, OMS is Catholic family and her mother converted
dedicated to spreading the truth about the blessings of children and the when they married, her family attended
harms of contraception. In addition to offering educational resources, Mass only sporadically. Both Anne and
OMS has searchable databases of NFP instructors and physicians who Rich went into adulthood with virtually no
specialize in sterilization reversal. In many cases, the doctors offer understanding of even the most basic tenets
services at a significant discount. of the faith. Their catechesis on sexual eth-
According to OMS president Steve Koob, the organization’s central ics was also poor.
aim is to encourage married couples to be open to God’s gift of children. “The only advice I got was, ‘Don’t get
OMS promotes chastity and NFP as supportive companions of its “for- pregnant,’” Anne recalls. “My parents said
life” philosophy. In an interview, Koob expanded on OMS’ unique they would help me get birth control if I
mission to families. intended to have sex.”
Rich was only vaguely aware that one
How is OMS unique in its promotion of chastity and NFP? should save sex for marriage, but he does
Koob: I think our uniqueness is primarily due to our understanding the not recall that message being emphasized
infinite value/beauty/consequences of “one more soul.” When a new life either in church or at home. Neither had
begins by the will of God and the one flesh union of man and woman, ever heard that contraception was wrong.
God creates an immortal soul destined to be in His glory for all eternity. By the time they were civilly married by a
The entire universe is changed. non-denominational Christian pastor in
That God has entrusted us with our own continuation is a witness to 1994, the couple had engaged in premarital
our being made in His image and likeness, with incredible freedoms that sex and Anne was on the Pill.
accompany the trust. When Mary Ann Walsh and I started OMS, we felt
that even if only a single “one more soul” were created as a result of our Starting a Family
efforts, it would be worth it. Two years later, the couple had their first
child, Mitchell, in September 1996. They
What direction do you see OMS taking in the future? wanted children close in age, so they tried
conceiving again when Mitchell was nine
Koob: The challenge is to find like-minded individuals who are respected months old. Three cycles later, Anne was
and authoritative. Historically, we have targeted Catholic clergy by offer- still not pregnant. She read that breastfeed-
ing them our resources. We believe clergy are powerful leaders and we ing can suppress fertility and was intro-
hope we are encouraging them to speak and write more about the bless- duced to the fertility awareness method
ings of children and the harms of birth control. (FAM) when she read Taking Charge of
We also consider Catholic medical professionals (especially physi- Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. She
cians) in this leadership category. But the near universal acceptance of stopped nursing, began charting, and
contraception by Catholic physicians is a scandal not being significantly conceived on her first cycle. Their
addressed, to my knowledge. When the Church breathes deeply with both daughter, Elise, was born in July 1998.
lungs (clergy and physicians), dramatic changes will occur. Nearly a year and a half after Elise’s
birth, Anne and Rich conceived again but
What have you seen as the most effective tool in helping
miscarried at four months. The loss pre-
evangelize Catholic couples to authentic marital chastity?
cipitated a dark period in Anne’s life. “I
Koob: There are many resources available from OMS that have proven wish I had had my faith, because I don’t
helpful in promoting authentic chastity. But the most effective “tool” is think it would have been so hard,” she
compassionate and authoritative preaching and teaching from the pulpit, says. She used FAM to avoid pregnancy
backed up with spiritual, human, and educational resources. This clerical for a while, but then used it to get pregnant
leadership approach is finding increasing success in parishes across again in fall 2000. Their son, Ben, was
America. born the following May.
With three children, sterilization throughout history about contracep-
through vasectomy seemed like the tion and encyclicals on marriage,
logical next step. “My vasectomy Anne was overwhelmed. “I came to
took as long as a haircut,” Rich com- a deep awareness that I had offended
ments dryly. He drove himself to and God,” she says, unable to speak
from the appointment, and conva- about the day without crying. She
lesced over the weekend. He was describes the truth as a “bomb” that
back to work by Monday. At the went off in her heart and mind. “I
time, neither Rich nor Anne attached began sobbing and fell to my knees,
any moral significance to the vasec- begging God’s forgiveness,” Anne
tomy and consequently, felt no says. “It was a heavy, heavy day.”
conflict going into the procedure or While she felt great remorse for
sorrow when it was over. their personal choices, Anne also felt
betrayed by the medical community.
A Major Conversion “No one ever told me the Pill is a
Interestingly, it was the birth of their potential abortefacient,” she says,
“last” child that would lead Anne angrily. Staunchly pro-life, Anne
and Rich back into the Church and insists she never would have used
deeper into their faith. Having hormonal contraception if someone
moved from Michigan to Virginia in had told her how it really works.
1999 during Anne’s last pregnancy,
the couple wanted to baptize their A Gift of Loving Sacrifice
son, so they began attending Mass at Anne didn’t discuss her conversion
a local Catholic church. The parish Mary Kathryn Miller on All experience with Rich right away.
served as a much-needed social out- Saints Day, 2006. She definitely wanted his vasectomy
let for the couple, especially for reversed, but she was unsure how to
Anne, who was now a stay-at-home broach the subject. Within a few
mother of young children. one to attend the first meeting, which days, however, she had confessed it
Already, the sense of complete- allowed her to speak freely about her to a local priest. He encouraged her
ness Anne had felt after Ben’s birth lack of catechesis. to seek a reversal, but suggested they
was beginning to ebb. She began “I’m Catholic and always have abstain during the fertile time if they
secretly longing for another child. “I been but I don’t know anything couldn’t afford the procedure.
had a daughter who was not going to about my faith,” Anne told Maureen. And at first, it looked like cost
have a sister,” says Anne, who has “There seem to be a lot of different would be prohibitive. Anne’s heart
three younger sisters. “That bothered opinions and I’m not interested in sank when the surgeon who had
me shortly after the vasectomy, but I opinions anymore. I want the truth. performed Rich’s vasectomy told her
figured it was a sorrow I would have Can you help me?” it would cost $8,000 out-of-pocket to
to live with.” The meeting with Maureen have it reversed. A few weeks later,
In the meantime, she met Mau- proved to be the catalyst for a major after attending my lecture on
reen Shannahan, who also had just conversion in Anne’s life. Over the Humanae Vitae, Anne discovered
moved to the area. “This woman had next few months, Anne went to One More Soul (see sidebar) and
a fabulous family—six kids and an- confession, read about the faith, and several online sterilization reversal
other on the way,” Anne recalls. even began praying the rosary. For forums. By Christmas, she had
“Her children would behave in Mass the first time, she understood the even located a urologist in Florida
and the whole family was very im- importance of the Mass and the who would allow them to pay for the
pressive.” Their oldest child also was family began attending weekly. reversal on a payment plan. But she
beginning to ask questions about the Discussions with Maureen also still had not talked to Rich. She
Mass, which kindled a desire in led Anne to realize that she and prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to
Anne to know more about the faith. Rich’s decisions to contracept and present her with the right time to talk
When Maureen started a women’s sterilize were wrong. However, it to her husband.
group for Lent, Anne joined. wasn’t until she read Catholic A few days before Christmas,
“I was drawn to Maureen...I had Teachings on Pro-Life Issues by Fa- Rich began taunting his wife. “I
a strong feeling she could answer the ther Anthony Zimmerman that she know what you want for Christmas,”
questions I had,” Anne remembers. understood fully what they had done.
Providentially, Anne was the only Reading statements by popes
Continued on next page
The Diocese of Richmond ------------------------------------
Office of Justice and Peace
811 Cathedral Place
Richmond VA 23220-4801 U.S. Postage
Permit No. 321
seem to “glow” when pregnant, but Anne was positively
The Millers, continued from page 11 luminous. “It was a pregnancy full of grace,” Anne con-
firms. “I was so at peace, because I knew we were in
he bantered. Anne thought Rich had no idea what she God’s hands.” Anne was blessed with a healthy pregnancy
really wanted. But after several days, Rich said softly, “I and was able to have her baby at home in January 2006.
know what you want...you want me to get a reversal.”
Anne nodded and began to cry. Rich embraced his wife. Embrace the Truth
“It wasn’t our fault,” he told her. “We didn’t know any Today, the Millers look forward to possibly having more
better.” And he tacitly agreed to reverse the vasectomy. children. “Before, when I thought I had had my last child,
I dreaded the loss of his babyhood,” Anne says. “But it’s
A New Beginning really so much more wonderful not knowing if this is our
In February 2005, the Millers left their children with last child.”
family and drove all night to Florida. There, they visited a While Rich initially had the reversal as an “act of
urologist who reversed Rich’s vasectomy. During the two- love” for his wife, he now contends that the experience
hour procedure, Anne prayed the rosary and thanked God ushered him into a more mature, firmer belief in his
for giving them a second chance. Catholic faith. “I have developed a much better prayer life
“It was so amazing to lay beside my husband that now,” he says.
night and feel whole again,” Anne says. “What had been Anne’s relationship with Christ is also the strongest it
such a sorrowful spot in our marriage was now a great has ever been. She advises couples who struggle with
blessing.” embracing the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage to
Fortunately, Rich had no complications from the pray for the grace to accept those teachings.
reversal and the urologist confirmed there was minimal “There is so much more peace and joy when you
damage from the vasectomy. Their chances for another accept the truth and put yourself in God’s hands,” she
child looked good. Anne refreshed herself about NFP and says. “The amazing thing is that when you embrace the
six weeks later, they had conceived Mary Kathryn. ‘law’ in faith, you find that instead of being its prisoner as
I attend Anne and Rich’s parish, and I remember you expected, you finally find the freedom and peace
watching them as they walked up for communion when you’ve always desired.”
Anne was pregnant with Mary Kathryn. Many women do