Author Joy Wambeke of St Paul, married to sometime blogger and graduate student, Dan, of Lumen Fidei, interviewed St Paul native, Father Richard Hogan, for the National Catholic Register on Natural Family Planning (NFP):
Father Richard Hogan heard Pope John Paul II in person discussing the theology of the body. Now he champions natural family planning with the Couple to Couple League.
The nation’s bishops in mid-November approved a document promoting natural family planning. Father Hogan has been involved with NFP education and the Couple to Couple League since his ordination in 1981. The priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis serves on the Couple to Couple League’s National Board of Directors. He is also one of the main speakers for Natural Family Planning Outreach, an organization that provides parish missions on natural family planning, and appears regularly on EWTN hosting a show on the theology of the body.
Father Hogan has been tapped to oversee the revamping of the Couple to Couple League’s curriculum that teaches thousands of students worldwide the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning. The new curriculum, set for completion next spring, will use the theology of the body as its theological grounding.
How did you become involved with the Couple to Couple League?
When I was first ordained, I was assigned to a parish in Crystal, Minn., and the natural family planning group that met there was led by a couple who were associated with the Couple to Couple League. I took their courses to see what they had to say, and I enjoyed them very much. I was later appointed to the archdiocesan advisory group on natural family planning as its Couple to Couple League representative.
How did you first become interested in the theology of the body?
I had always been convinced that the Church was right in her teaching against artificial contraception. But I was looking for a pastoral way to help married couples find their families in some way.
Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978, my second year in seminary, and shortly after that he began giving his Wednesday audiences on the book of Genesis — what we now refer to as the theology of the body. I had read his writings and talks before, and they initially shocked me because it sounded a little like what I was hearing at the seminary, which was not always in tune with the Church. So, I knew I was missing something. Then, when I began hearing the theology of the body, I figured out what he was doing, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.
Could you explain what you found?
St. Augustine gave us a method to understand God based on Plato; St. Thomas gave us a second way based on Aristotle. But neither one fits our modern culture because we are subjective, inductive and experiential. Pope John Paul II gave us a new and third way that is subjective, inductive and experiential. Yet it is also solid. The entire project [of theology of the body] was grounded in the natural law, which is based on the human person. This is what is called personalism. It made the Church’s teaching on sexuality more palatable. He didn’t change anything; rather, he gave us a new way of saying the same truth. [...Snip] National Catholic Register