Catholics and Contraception: An American History.Catholics and Contraception: An American History. By Leslie Woodcock woodcock: see snipe.
Any of five species (family Scolopacidae) of plump, sharp-billed migratory birds of damp, dense woodlands in North America, Europe, and Asia. Tentler (Ithica, NY: Cornell University Cornell University, mainly at Ithaca, N.Y.; with land-grant, state, and private support; coeducational; chartered 1865, opened 1868. It was named for Ezra Cornell, who donated $500,000 and a tract of land. With the help of state senator Andrew D. Press, 2005. xii plus 335 pp. $29.95).
The Catholic church stood at a critical juncture in the summer of 1968. It had recently emerged from the Second Vatican Council Noun 1. Second Vatican Council - the Vatican Council in 1962-1965 that abandoned the universal Latin liturgy and acknowledged ecumenism and made other reforms
Vatican Council - each of two councils of the Roman Catholic Church committed to dramatic and significant reform and was confronted with a serious implication of this new direction. Scientific and theological developments combined with overwhelming popular sentiment to push church leaders toward revising their long-standing official opposition to birth control. Pope Paul VI Pope Paul VI (Latin: Paulus PP. VI; Italian: Paolo VI), born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (September 26, 1897 – August 6, 1978), reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 1963 to 1978. had put off addressing this at Vatican II Noun 1. Vatican II - the Vatican Council in 1962-1965 that abandoned the universal Latin liturgy and acknowledged ecumenism and made other reforms
Second Vatican Council
Vatican Council - each of two councils of the Roman Catholic Church by appointing a special commission to advise him on the matter. The commission's official report urging the pope to lift the ban came out in the press before Paul VI Paul VI, 1897–1978, pope (1963–78), an Italian (b. Concesio, near Brescia) named Giovanni Battista Montini; successor of John XXIII. Prepapal Career
The son of a prominent newspaper editor, he was ordained in 1920. responded to it publicly. Finally, on July 29th, 1968, Pope Paul Pope Paul has been the name of six Roman Catholic Popes:
Readers may find this focus on priests and birth control to be a curious perspective at first thought. What experience of contraception would a celibate clergy have worth studying? But Tentler seems to end up here for two reasons. The first is that the priestly history is more easily accessed than the lay experience. Neither the laity nor the clergy seems to leave rich sources regarding contraceptive use that turn up in any of the many archives that Tentler visited. But she was able to find evidence of a Catholic discourse on contraception in works used to instruct seminarians and clergy on moral theology theology applied to morals; practical theology; casuistry.
that phase of theology which is concerned with moral character and conduct.
See also: Moral Theology , in strategies that mission preachers employed when visiting parishes, in mandated sermon outlines that came from some diocesan bishops to their priests, and in guides to marriage preparation that priests consulted when counseling engaged couples. This discourse consists entirely of clerical voices. Most significant, Tentler interviewed fifty-six priests to learn their theological training and pastoral practices regarding birth control. The second reason that Tentler focuses on priests is that they mediated the hierarchy's strict rules prohibiting contraceptive use with the laity in various venues, such as confessionals, mission sermons, marriage preparation, and Catholic publications.
The lay beliefs, attitudes toward, and practices of birth control remain elusive throughout all but the last handful of years of Tentler's study. But a relatively clear story emerges regarding priests. They learned in their seminary training to oppose birth control during the late 19th century, and did so uniformly as far as Tentler can determine. But diocesan priests, those priests who served parishes under the local bishops' direct supervision, understood that birth control was a sensitive topic because it involved highly private and intimate behaviors and because the laity might resent parish priests for addressing the issue directly and forthrightly. They therefore left the subject to itinerant mission priests who visited parishes once a year or so to generate religious fervor and warn of hell's eternal suffering. Mission preachers were unrelenting in their condemnation of birth control, but they too approached the subject carefully--in groups segregated by gender and age.
Protestant ministers once joined Catholic priests This is an annotated list of men primarily known for their work as Catholic priests. Catholic priests who are mostly known for their non-priestly work should be placed on other lists. in condemning contraception, but began to waver in the early 20th century. By the 1930s, Catholic church officials saw themselves as standing largely alone in their anti-birth control crusade, and opposition to birth control began to mark a distinctive Catholic identity. Pius XI Pius XI, 1857–1939, pope (1922–39), an Italian named Achille Ratti, b. Desio, near Milan; successor of Benedict XV. Prepapal Career
Ratti's father was a silk manufacturer. He studied in Milan and at the Gregorian Univ. issued the encyclical Casti Connubii Casti Connubii was a papal encyclical promulgated by Pope Pius XI on December 31, 1930. It stressed the sanctity of marriage, prohibited Roman Catholics from using any form of artificial birth control, and reaffirmed the prohibition on abortion. at the end of the 1930s that reiterated the church ban on birth control and urged priests to be more aggressive in condemning lay use. But he opened the door to seeing sex serving two purposes in marriage: the long-held emphasis on procreation PROCREATION. The generation of children; it is an act authorized by the law of nature: one of the principal ends of marriage is the procreation of children. Inst. tit. 2, in pr. and the emerging value of strengthening the partners' love for each other. Priests addressed birth control more assertively in the confessional after the encyclical, but seemed largely uneasy with this greater emphasis--especially in a period of great economic hardship during which Catholics sought successfully to limit the number of children that they bore.
Priests embraced the emergence of a medically accurate method of intermittent abstinence (the rhythm method rhythm method
A birth control method dependent on abstinence during the period of ovulation.
Rhythm method ) that promised to enable lay men and women to limit family size within the bounds of theologically acceptable practices. Bishops worried that natural family planning natural family planning Biological birth control Any FP that does not rely on artificial agents–eg, OCs, 'morning-after' pill, spermicidal foam, RU-486 or devices–eg, condoms, diaphragms, IUDs to prevent conception Methods Rhythm–calendar method, would serve as a gateway practice to other forms of banned birth control, and so discouraged priests from endorsing this method too publicly. Lay men and women found the rhythm method to be frustrating and unreliable, but a welcome departure from condemnation of all birth control practices.
The development of the birth control pill birth control pill
See oral contraceptive.
birth control pill Oral contraceptive, see there in 1960, which allowed greater control over a woman's cycle of fertility, seemed to many Catholics to be a more refined and effective version of the rhythm method. It appeared to be both theologically acceptable and biologically efficient. At this very moment lay voices emerge in the public discourse on birth control and allow Tender to provide the most rewarding section of her book for social historians. The laity voiced their struggles with large families and called overwhelmingly for a lift on the birth control ban.
Paul VI's later insistence on upholding the traditional ban on all forms of birth control, including the pill, had significant consequences for lay Catholics. Tentler argues persuasively that the laity ceased to value church officials' moral judgments once the pope rejected his own commission's determination that continuing the ban was theologically untenable. The pope appeared to make a decision based upon his fear that overturning the ban would undermine papal authority. Changing church teaching would implicitly declare that so many popes have gotten this so wrong for so long. But in so doing, Paul VI hastened that which he hoped to forestall. The laity sided with the theologians, both because the theology was persuasive and because their lived experience taught them that they would be better spouses and parents if they controlled their family size. Church officials recognized the tension that Humane Vitae caused, and so have remained largely silent on the issue for forty years. The consequence is that the laity have come to develop their own judgments about this and other moral issues, and church officials have become increasingly irrelevant in the process.
Catholics and Contraception is a welcome exploration of the Catholic discourse on birth control over the century leading up to 1968. Tentler's work is thorough, nuanced, and engaging. Her argument about the centrality of birth control practices in lay lives and the significance of Humane Vitae in the church's history is so persuasive and well-supported that her work stands as a definitive history of contraception and a major contribution to our understanding of the broader American Catholic history in the twentieth century.
Saint Vincent College History
Founded in 1846 by Boniface Wimmer as a men's college, in 1983 it became coeducational. In 2004 the college hired a professional lobbyist and, later that year, two paragraphs were tucked into federal appropriation bills with the help of Representative John P.