Responsible Parenthood

Written by Mike Manhart. Originally published in Family Foundations in 2022.

By the time you are reading this, the Diocese of St Augustine, FL, will have a new bishop. A new bishop the CCL community knows well – Fr. Erik Pohlmeier.  I had the honor of attending his Ordination and Installation on July 22 with Bishop Thomas Wenski of Miami presiding.

Many of you know Bishop Pohlmeier from the video lessons he does in the English Main Class series.  Father Pohlmeier served on the CCL board from January 2008 until October 2016 when his increasing responsibilities in the diocese of Little Rock precluded him from continuing to give his time on the CCL Board. During this time, he was an important part of many changes at CCL: the new main class was launched and updated, online national class registration launched, live online and self-paced learning modes were created, CycleProGo was launched, and at least two new books were published by CCL.  In addition, Father was deeply involved in our efforts to have more dioceses in the US make NFP a normative part of marriage prep.  He played a major role in moving his own diocese of Little Rock to require NFP and provided convincing personal testimony to many other bishops considering making the move.

Part of the Main Class update in 2011 was re-filming the videos originally done by Father Richard Hogan. Fr. Pohlmeier energetically agreed to re-work these and be recorded.  Little did he know of the personal risk he had to take to complete the filming.  We wanted to use some beautiful hand painted murals that were above the alter at Mother of God Church in Covington, KY as background.  When we arrived at the church, we found the pews had all been taken up as part of a renovation.  To have Father framed with the murals and not show the under-construction floor, we had to put him about 10 feet in the air using a wobbly riser with an even shakier stool on top.  Fortunately, no one was injured during the filming.  However, when we started using the new videos in class, the comments came back that Father looked awfully stiff and never seemed to blink.  If the viewers only knew how hard Father was concentrating on not breaking his neck, they might understand!

The past issue of Family Foundations discusses Responsible Parenthood- that age old question of when and how many children should we have?  I think Bishop Pohlmeier summarizes this issue nicely in his video in class #2. Here’s what he says:

Remember in the first class I told you that you might be surprised to learn what the Catholic Church actually teaches? Well, there are many misconceptions regarding responsible parenthood. Many believe that the Church says couples must have as many children as possible, and the purpose of sex is solely to have children. This is simply not true. Married couples are called to generosity in the service of life, but they are also called to prayerfully discern how many children are right for them…. God in his infinite wisdom “programmed,” if you will, a woman’s body to only get pregnant during a few days of her cycle. What’s important, then, is for couples to prayerfully discern together the number of children that is right for them based on their physical, economic, psychological, and social conditions. And even the Church does not specifically define what these conditions are, or how many children are right for one couple or another…… The key is following God’s design as you promise on the wedding day.

Bishop Pohlmeier

Talk to each other, pray together, and listen to God’s calling for you and your family.

On behalf of the CCL Board, we thank God for the blessing of Father Pohlmeier and rejoice in his elevation to Bishop. We wish you all well in your continued dialog & discernment on responsible parenthood.