by Theresa Notare
June 7, 2002
Lately in the news there is much controversy about the ethics of different types of scientific research. Whether one knows much or little about a debated issue it can seem that faith and science are not compatible—and even "at odds" with each other. But they can work together. Rather then threaten our faith, science can take some structure from Catholic moral teachings and move forward in ways that will advance our understanding and at the same time, reverence God's design for human life.
An example of this type of "faithful" scientific efforts can be found in the Marquette University's Institute for Natural Family Planning, housed in their College of Nursing. Born in 1997 and the brain-child of Professor Richard Fehring, DNSc,RN, the Institute is dedicated to providing professional education, research and service in Natural Family Planning (NFP). Among the many projects, research and activities that Dr. Fehring has been able to accomplish is an upcoming national conference jointly sponsored by his Institute and the Diocesan Development Program for NFP (DDP) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The three-day conference (June 20-22, 2002), to be held in Milwaukee and entitled Integrating Faith and Science Through Natural Family Planning, represents the fulfillment of one of the DDP's goals—to promote scientific NFP research. Among the speakers is Archbishop Buechlein of Indianapolis. He will explain how Natural Family Planning brings faith and science together. Conference days will be divided into exploring the spiritual dimensions of NFP and studying current scientific research in the area.
The spiritual segment will touch upon relevant issues facing society. Dr. John Grabowski of Catholic University will examine the impact of NFP on marital spirituality. Lawyer and author Theresa Wagner will explore the feminist perspective of NFP and contraception. Gynecologist, Dr. Hanna Klaus, will discuss the right of medical students to be trained and enabled to practice according to their faith.
Cutting-edge scientific research will be presented by several nationally acclaimed researchers. Dr. David Dunson of the National Institute of Health and Dr. Joseph Stanford of the University of Utah will present new information on identifying days of highest fertility in the woman's menstrual cycle. Nurse researcher, Dr. Nancy Reame, will discuss women in peri-menaupause. Professor of Psychology from the University of Florida, Larry Severy will examine what couples look for in family planning methods. From Georgetown University, Dr. Marcos Arevalo will explain his research into the development of an effective and accessible (easier-to-use) method of NFP. For those of you who can't be with us at Marquette, conference papers will be published and made available through both Marquette and the USCCB. For more information contact Marquette's Institute for NFP at 414- 288-3854; or, see the web-site www.marquette.edu/nursing/nfp; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Theresa Notare is the Assistant Director of the Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning, Pro-Life Secretariat, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.