“Indeed, the grace of the sacrament of marriage is intended before all else to perfect the couple’s love”, writes Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia(No. 89), and to this end, “Training in the areas of emotion and instinct is necessary” (148).
The goal is to perfect the love of the spouses by educating them about their emotional life and thus teach them a sense of “responsible parenthood” (as described in Humanae Vitae, 10). This is why married couples are being trained to become counsellors and experts in Natural Family Planning (NFP) in many countries in Africa. In the diocese of Kumbo, Cameroon, for example, 54 couples will teach two others every month on the current course, so that by the end of the course more than 5,000 couples will have learnt about the Natural family planning methods permitted by the Church.
The project leaders Sebastian and Clarisse summarise the results thus: There are fewer abortions and fewer maternal deaths; parents can devote themselves more carefully to the upbringing of their children, thanks to the more widely spaced births; couples discover a greater respect for the dignity of the woman, and not infrequently for the first time; the spiritual life is enriched and conjugal love is deepened. ACN is supporting this programme with €12,000.
In the Archdiocese of Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy and the Council for the Laity are running this programme with young adults in 13 parishes. The aim is to teach them about true love before they get married. As “God loves the enjoyment felt by human beings” and as Pope Francis puts it, “A person can certainly
channel his passions in a beautiful and healthy way, increasingly pointing them towards altruism and an integrated self-fulfilment that can only enrich interpersonal relationships in the heart of the family” (Amoris Laetitia, 148). We have promised €15,000 towards the cost of this two-year programme for 26 married couples and 52 young adults.