“Ask a Priest: What If My Catholic Girlfriend Is Pro-contraception?”

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Q: I am new to the Catholic faith and am enrolling in an RCIA class right now and I fully intend to follow what the Church teaches. My girlfriend is Catholic, but pro-contraception. Our relationship is proceeding in the way that all Christian relationships should before marriage, so it is not an issue I feel I need to tackle at the moment. I do not want to drive a wedge in the relationship. I was wondering the best way to handle this topic delicately should the relationship reach the point of talking about marriage. Thank you in advance for your advice! – T.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good to hear that you want to join the Church and live in accord with its teaching.

It’s also good — if I understand your e-mail correctly — that you and your friend are living chastely. That shows a lot of good will on her part (and yours, of course).

That would indicate that your friend might be open to being persuaded about the Church’s wisdom regarding contraception.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t just a Church teaching. It is something that touches on the very nature of marriage itself.

Marital intimacy is supposed to a sign of spouses’ total self-giving to each other, and that includes their fertility (actual or potential). Contraception undercuts the meaning of the act of intimacy and in effect slams the door on God’s participation in it.

It’s certainly an issue you will want to talk over with her, since in some cases a contraceptive mentality could be an impediment to marriage.

It might help if the both of you read or review materials together. For instance: Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae; Janet E. Smith’s “Contraception: Why Not?” and “Four Ways NFP Is Different from Contraception“; Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body; and Theology of the Body for Beginners.

A big part of marriage would be to help your wife grow in holiness and get to heaven.

So it’s important that this matter of contraception be addressed seriously. It could set the pace for other issues that arise in your relationship.

In the meantime you might want to intensify your prayers for your friend.

Perhaps part of your mission as you draw closer to the Catholic faith is to help your friend draw closer to the heart of the Church in which she was baptized.

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