The USCCB has approved and publicized their letter entitled "Married Love and the Gift of Life." The document talks of marriage as "an intimate partnership in which husbands and wives learn to give and receive love unselfishly, and then teach their children to do so as well." The document was approved Tuesday at the USCCB's fall meeting in Baltimore.
The document is in question-and-answer format and answers questions on the topics of marital love, contraception and Natural Family Planning (NFP). The questions answered include "What does the Church teach about married love?" and "Why does saying 'yes' to children at the altar mean never using contraception to close the act of intercourse to new life?"
The document explains that Catholic teaching on contraception and the beauty of marital love "is a teaching that many couples today, through no fault of their own, have not heard (or not heard in a way they could appreciate and understand)." The bishops chose to issue this letter at this time because the "conviction has grown that there is a pastoral need for a simple educational piece addressed to Catholics considering marriage."
The letter is careful to explain that the Church's teaching is not just "about observing a rule, but about preserving that total, mutual gift of two persons in its integrity." It explains that fertility is an "integral part of the bonding power of spousal love" and that using contraceptive disrupts that bond.
The bishops explain that using contraception causes sexual intercourse to become "something less powerful and intimate, something more 'casual'." And that it says ultimately says to your spouse "I give you everything I am — except…"
The document explains the Church's position on NFP and how, under serious circumstances, it is a moral method to avoid conception by abstaining from intercourse during the fertile times of a woman's cycle.
The bishops warn against use of all contraceptive methods. They carefully explain that some supposed contraceptives are actually abortifacient agents, such as the "morning after pill." These types of drugs can prevent the young embryo from implanting in the lining of the mother's uterus, causing it to die within hours or days of conception.
The letter acknowledges that living out a loving and faithful marriage, like any state in life, has its own unique challenges. However, it goes on to explain that spouses should not be discouraged because God ultimately wills our happiness and has given us the necessary means to achieve that.
The document concludes with the encouragement, "The Church's teaching on marital sexuality is an invitation for men and women — an invitation to let God be God, to receive the gift of God's love and care, and to let this gift inform and transform us, so we may share that love with each other and with the world."