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Does Anything Strike You About This List? | Catholic Life

Does Anything Strike You About This List?

The idea of conventions really appeals to me. You not only get to hear great speakers on the topic that interests you, you also get to meet others with the same interest. Even though I do not attend many conferences, I love to read about them. And what could be better than conferences that focus on natural family planning?

So I was easily engaged with the Couple to Couple League’s 2010 speakers list. Check it out. Then you can read what I thought as I read about who is speaking:

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli of the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
I would love to hear him!

Bishop Ronald W. Gainer
I should probably know something about him…

Mike Manhart, Ph.D. CCL Executive Director
Makes sense since he runs the organization.

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. (Fr. Tad) Director of Education, The National Catholic Bioethics Center
I love Father Tad. I still can’t believe that the Vatican seems to be taking his side on the embryo adoption issue. Hm…

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., Ph.D.

And then there was Joseph Corbo, M.D., James McKenna, Ph.D., Dale Alquist, Ray Guarendi, Ph.D., and Michael Schwartz.
I don’t know any of these guys, though McKenna sounds really interesting.

Then I scrolled through the list again.

I had to be missing people.

I had to be missing women.

No, I had already seen the one woman… a sister. I have no objection to celibate women promoting life, they are crucial! But why is she the only woman listed? Does the Couple to Couple League believe that if NFP-using women want to hear from women who actually live with NFP they should just talk to themselves? Are women and men really so similar that men can speak to these issues just as well as women? Did the conference organizers try to get women to speak but find that they were all so drowning with their own children that they had nothing left to give to others?

I left Couple to Couple League’s website with the sinking feeling that they are crippled in their ability to promote the fullness of what the Church has to offer for women in real life. Am I missing a good reason for avoiding married women as speakers, or does the Couple to Couple League have a tremendous opportunity to grow in this area?

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13 Responses to “Does Anything Strike You About This List?”

  1. CM 20. Jan, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Huh. That is weird. Do you think it was an oversight kind of a thing, or do you think there was a purpose? It seems to me that it would be really good to have women who use NFP to talk at an NFP conference. Actually, I think it might even be good to have couples that use it speak. But I know nothing about Couple to Couple or any of the speakers that are speaking.

    • Hossam 30. Jul, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      I’m (I think) past the age of needing falmiy planning. I know though that when I first started seriously looking into NFP, part of what turned me off was the junk science CCL and others were putting forward. I can’t remember particular articles or topics, but I deal with paid experts regularly and some of the junk I read from CCL rivaled the worst of them. I know too that the amount of abstinence described in some of the stuff I read was a little on the optimistic side and I’m sure there are those with whom CCL lost credibility when real life experience clashed with those predictions.But you know, what you are selling isn’t really a better form of birth control, but rather a totally different attitude about child bearing. Instead of preventing being the default mode, to be replaced 1-3 times wi’th the trying mode, the Church calls us to the default of openness to life with avoiding to be for serious reasons only. In today’s world, that’s a hard position to accept, yet looking at the size of most CCL teaching couples, they have accepted it. I’m afraid though that when someone who hasn’t accepted that attitude looks at you, they don’t see four beautiful planned children, they see that maybe nfp works if you can stand to use it, but obviously you couldn’t stand it.

  2. Kathleen 21. Jan, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    It would be nice to have some women, wouldn’t it? The thing to keep in mind is that CCL has already come a long way. It wasn’t too many years ago (since I became a teacher) that the powers in charge did not believe mothers should work, so they had no women on staff. That is no longer the case. So give them some time.

    However, in the meantime, it is TOTALLY worthwhile to send them that feedback!!!!

    • Rae 21. Jan, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

      When I first posted I actually hoped that you (or one of the other CCL teaching couples) would comment and assure me that this was a complete fluke and that CCL values the contribution of women at the highest levels with the same strength of conviction that it requires the contribution of men at the most basic levels.

      But thank you for the perspective. I am glad that CCL is changing.

      • Alice 31. Jul, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

        , this must be the first ovulation . I was right in both cases. After the first baby, we coenviecd on that first ovulation, as we were trying to, without ever having a period in between the children. After the second baby, we waited a few months as I had a minor health issue I wanted to clear up first. After my 3rd baby my fertility signs were beginning to show at only a few months postpartum, even though that baby nursed as much as the others. Either it was my age (40), or maybe that I was getting less sleep (3 little ones and doing a lot of reading to boot!) Still, even with the 3rd baby, I began getting monthly mucus patches without periods first, and when they started to be more fertile-type than not, we abstained. I have to say, it did seem to me that CCL’s postpartum rules were overly strict. I never experienced the pattern I’ve heard about with on-and-off mucus. My mucus patches were always in a regular monthly cycle, even before my period returned.

  3. Trena 21. Jan, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Write them a letter! They might not realize the need, or even worse, they might not have any married women that want to talk. I remember when we went on Engagement Encounter Weekend, there was a young couple that came and talked to us about NFP. After the talk, I had the opportunity to meet with them to ask questions. They were so excited to hear that my then fiance and I planned on using the method. Then they started encouraging us to share our experience down the road. They said that the church has a hard time getting young, married couples to talk. Maybe the Couple to Couple league has the same issue.

    Maybe you can talk? :)

    • Rae 21. Jan, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

      I don’t think that I am qualified to talk, but I know that there are many women who are. And you’re right about Engaged Encounter, it is a great organization. I hope that we can be involved more when we’ve been married for a bit longer.

  4. Ann Gundlach 21. Jan, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    I just had to jump in here and share “the rest of the story” when I saw this post. :-)

    CCL and NFP are not anti-woman; in fact, NFP is the most pro-woman method of family planning there is! It’s pro-dignity, both male and female.

    As far as our convention speakers go, I point out first of all that the only information we have posted thus far is the main speakers. We still have a complete line-up coming together of workshop speakers and topics that will likely feature several women and married couples. and, there are usually at least twice the number of workshop speakers as main speakers.

    Second, the fact that the list of main speakers this year only includes one woman is simply how things came together and certainly not a result of some anti-woman bias. Just off the top of my head I can name the following women who have spoken at recent CCL conventions: Janet Smith, Ph.D.; Vicki Thorn of Project Rachel; anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler, Ph.D.; NFP researcher Petra Frank-Herrmann, M.D.; lactation expert Linda Smith; along with a variety of female CCL staff members, board members, and volunteers.

    Mother Donovan was actually scheduled to speak at our 2008 convention but had to cancel at the last minute due to illness. We’re thrilled that she agreed at the time to speak at the next.

    Third, most of our speakers are invited as a result of recommendations from our volunteers and convention attendees, who generously share their feedback at the close of each convention.

    And, of course, our choices are also limited each time by speaker availability during the week we have secured a location.

    No grand conspiracy here. I promise.

    I would LOVE to see you and your readers in Green Lake, Wisconsin with us in August! Our conventions are wonderful, family-friendly, upbeat events. Join us!

    • Rae 21. Jan, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post.

      In no way did I intend to imply that CCL was conspiring against women. What seems odd to me is that CCL appears to be unconcerned with seeking out women, and mothers in particular, to share in the promotion of its all-important mission. My worry was not that women were being explicitly rejected, but rather that no one valued the unique contribution of married women who live with NFP, and thus CCL did not bother to insure that they were a key part of the conference.

      I am inclined to agree with John Paul II’s statement that: “[i]n transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. ” This seems especially true in the area of natural family planning. In the past I have appreciated the fact that the Couple to Couple League has promoted the involvement of both men and women in understanding fertility and using their shared knowledge. So I cannot help but wonder why the same care is not put into insuring the participation of both men and women at all levels.

      Your points about speaker availability make me think that perhaps CCL *did* invite several married women to be main speakers and all declined. I would be thrilled if you could confirm that that is the case. If it is the case, then I hope that CCL is already started on the next convention’s speaker list and will make a point to insure that it can schedule *mothers* as main speakers so that your attendees will not continue to miss out on this crucial voice.

      Thank you again for taking time to set the record straight. I am glad to hear that CCL has included a few women in the past, and I pray that the organization will be moved to increase its ministry through a recognition of the indispensable role of mothers at *every* level of NFP promotion.

  5. Sarah 21. Jan, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    I agree that it does not seem to be intentional. I planned a day-long conference on “Rationality of Belief” from the Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish perspectives, when I worked for the Arch. in Chicago. I only realized about two weeks before the conference that all the speakers were men. Oops! No one brought it up though; it was definetely not intentional on my part!

    I think you could send them a letter asking; I’m sure they’d be willing to answer.

    • Rae 21. Jan, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

      I did not intend to imply that they were specifically refusing to allow women to speak, but it seems so unlikely that something like this could happen if the contribution of mothers was valued as John Paul II so often urged.

      Considering the fact that the topic is Natural Family Planning and it is the bodies of women which actually go through the fertility cycles that allow the practice of NFP, it seems to me that it is the equivalent of you planning an interreligious discussion of faith and reason and then only inviting Christians.

      I did not mention the fact that all of the speakers appear to be white, because I can imagine that CCL does not see it as its mission to reach the under-served in the African American and Latina/o communities. But I cannot imagine how one can have a truly complete conference on Natural Family Planning without insuring that women, especially mothers, are sharing their wisdom at all levels.

      • NFPworks 22. Jan, 2010 at 3:04 am #

        Rae, I’m so glad that you brought this up. You have to at least ask the question, and I don’t think that you necessarily did it in an accusatory way.

        I’m glad that Ann Gundlach jumped in to clarify how the organization has happened so far. It’s great to hear of so many fabulous women who’ve spoken in the past as lead speakers, but you’re right that she didn’t make it clear whether there were women who were invited to be lead speakers *this* year.

        One person off the top of my head that would make an amazing lead speaker in future years is Patty Schneier. She gives an amazing witness talk about her conversion through discovering (and struggling with) the Church’s teachings on contraception. It’s not just any conversion story, though. She has a dynamism, energy, and excellent formation that comes out in the talk–she’s always such a hit.

        She also gives a great talk (perfect & practical for a convention setting) called “Reaching Cafeteria Catholics” which is intended for clergy, but I think any one could appreciate the talk. She basically reflects on her own experience of never learning the Church’s teaching, and gives clergy practical tips for how to reach people, particularly on marriage and family issues.

        Thanks for keeping us all on our toes!

    • Arjumuach 31. Jul, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      I had been an NFP teacher for alsomt 3 years before I first dealt with the postpartum, and I have to say that going through it myself did wonders for my powers of empathy in relating to students! The first transition was easy because we didn’t try to postpone; it had taken so long to achieve our first pregnancy that we were ready to take another as soon as God saw fit to bring fertility back. After our second child was born with Down’s, we had to rethink things a bit and slow it down. And it was a pain. The crazy part is that even the third postpartum transition was confusing. I felt ridiculous me, this experienced NFP teacher, calling Vicki every week going Puhleeeze help! I don’t GET it! I guess my advice would be: don’t try to be a superhero. CALL YOUR INSTRUCTOR. And if you don’t have an instructor close by, call Central! This is when you most need the support!

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