The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page
The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page

Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives


Abortion & Euthanasia

Return to:  Home > Archives Index > Abortion & Euthanasia Index

Our Gravest Moral Responsibility
To Convert the Contraception Mentality

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

It must seem strange to call anything our “gravest moral responsibility.” There are so many moral problems in the world today. How can any one of them pose our gravest responsibility. But so it is. In my judgment, the contraception mentality is the single deepest issue facing Western society.

I call it the contraception mentality. But we could just as well call it the contraception ideology. It was centuries in the making. It is devastating in its consequences. And it is at the root of the massive assault on the human family. Nothing less is at stake than the survival of Western, and with emphasis, American society.

What is the Contraceptive Mentality?

The contraceptive mentality is the philosophy which claims that contraception is not morally wrong. It can even be morally good, for the welfare of those who practice contraception and for the welfare of the human race.

Immediately we must distinguish between two classes of people who defend contraception: the non-Christian world that has not been touched by the moral principles of historic Christianity, and those who profess to be Christians yet find nothing objectively wrong in the practice of contraception.

The Non-Christian World.  Contrary to public opinion, contraception is not a modern innovation. It was practiced since the dawn of recorded history.

A single listing of books and monographs in Hime’s Medical History of Contraception gives over twelve hundred titles of scholarly works in English and German alone, excluding a dozen “bibliographies of bibliographies” on contraceptive customs through the ages.

As you study this phenomenon, one thing becomes clear. No doubt the practice of contraception is as old as the human race. But only within the last century do we find any organized, planned effort to, quotes, “help the masses to acquire a knowledge of contraception”. This development of whole nations into contraceptive cultures is one of the achievements of the communications media.

It was the rise of the Christian religion that gave the first large-scale impetus to checking a practice that historians show has been universal when, where, and insofar as the basic principles of Christian morality were inoperative.

Conversely the pressure of a strong Christian witness since the earliest times, served as a brake on what the Ephesian gynecologist Soranos (A.D. 98-138), who also approved abortion, considered a general custom among the Mediterranean people of his day. He gave no less than seventeen medically approved methods of contraception (atokion - motherlessness). His argument was that it is safer for the mother “to prevent conception from taking place than to destroy, what was called the fetus, already conceived”.

As long as Christian moral principles were still respected, contraception was not only frowned upon, but even forbidden by the civil. This was the case in the United States.

The best known person associated with anticonceptionist legislation was Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), a Protestant social leader. As an active member of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.), he secured New York State and Federal laws against obscene matter, and to this day his name is associated with the Comstock Law which the American Congress passed in 1873 forbidding the dissemination by mail of contraceptive information.

Up to ten years imprisonment was provided for violation of the section on mailing contraceptive devices or directives, with lesser penalties for other pro-contraceptive acts. As late as 1918, the Comstock Law was enforced against Margaret Sanger, the feminist crusader for the abolition of all restrictions against artificial birth control.

By the turn of the present century, the attitude began to change. In one country after another, the clandestine practice became public knowledge. The first international birth control congress was held in Paris in 1900. In 1901 the Malthusian League, with the avowed purpose of promoting contraception, was organized in Bohemia, followed by similar groups in Belgium (1906), Switzerland (1908), and Sweden (1911). In 1912, Dr. Abraham Jacobi, Jewish immigrant from Germany, became the first president of the American Medical Association to espouse contraception. He took the occasion of his inaugural address to make the break-through.

Christian Reaction.  With the increased publicity and growing practice of contraception, the Christian churches were called upon to declare themselves.

The Catholic and Orthodox bodies came out strongly against artificial birth control. In 1930 Pope Pius XI published the encyclical on Christian marriage. He stated that those who interfere with normal conception are “openly departing from the Christian teaching which has been handed down from the beginning.”

Until the opening of the Second World War, the Orthodox position was also clearly prohibitive. It was assumed that contraception was wrong, and writers made only passing reference to the Eastern Christian tradition which universally reprobated the practice. Already at the Council of Nicea (325), men who sterilized themselves were not to be ordained, or if ordained and married, were to cease functioning as priests. Sts. John Chrysostom, Epiphanius, and Cyril of Alexandria among the Fathers of the Church were cited as witnesses to the Christian teaching.

Contraception was officially banned by Protestant Churches until the first quarter of the twentieth century. In 1920 the Lambeth Conference warned all Anglicans “against the use of unnatural means of avoiding conception”.

Ten years later, Lambeth changed its position to say that, “If there is a good moral reason why the way of abstinence should not be followed, we cannot condemn the use of scientific methods for preventing conception which are thoughtfully and conscientiously adopted. By 1958 the Anglican Conference raised the practice of contraception to the dignity of Christian virtue since “the number and frequency of children has been laid by God on the consciences of parents everywhere.”

Summary Analysis.  Already before the end of the second millennium, it is simply assumed in much of the modern world that contraception is not only justified but actually prescribed by the moral law. The grounds for this widespread mentality, as we call it are mainly the professed priority of each person’s conscience.

Conscience has been redefined to mean each person’s own free will, independent of an objective divine law which teaches our minds what is morally right or wrong.

Devastation by the Contraceptive Mentality

Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae identifies no less than nine devastating effects resulting from the contraceptive mentality.

I will simply identify these consequences without commenting:

  • Conjugal infidelity

  • Debasing of all standards of human morality.

  • Lowering of respect for women and of woman’s dignity.

  • State legislation against human fertility.

  • Desecration of the holiness of marital intimacy.

  • Breakdown of personal responsibility.

  • Cultivation of selfish individuality.

  • Destruction of the family as the foundation of civilized society.

  • Promotion of an utterly materialistic understanding of human existence.

Each one of these products of contraceptive ideology would be enough to explain what we see happening in the modern world. This ideology is a self-idolatry that should be called the New Paganism. The old paganism was polytheistic, a belief in many deities - gods and goddesses. The new paganism is monotheistic. There is faith in only one god but this god is the independent and autonomous Ego who is responsible to no one except “Himself”.

No wonder the so-called New Age movement is pervading countries like our own. At the core of the New Age is the Oriental non-Christian belief that there is only one deity, called Brahman. What we call the soul, these Orientals call Atman, the Self. Our destiny after many reincarnations is to discover that Atman is Brahman. This is Nirvana.

Our Catholic Responsibility

The Title of this talk is, “Our Gravest Moral Responsibility is to Convert the Contraceptive Mentality.”

This is not symbolic language. It is stark reality. We Catholics are in possession of the fulness of truth. Truth, we know is conformity of the mind with reality. The millions of our contemporaries who believe in contraception are living in a dream world of unreality.

This dream world is being fostered by the modern media of communication, which Marshall McLuen correctly said, are engaged in a Luciferian conspiracy against the truth.

For five years, I was on the faculty of a state university, teaching Catholic theology. When I finished my tenure I published a book, entitled, The Hungry Generation. The more than 2,000 students, mainly non-Catholic and even non-Christian, taught me something I want to share with you.

The people of our country are starving for the truth. They are hungering for the only food that can nourish the human mind, which is the truth.

Over the years, I have defined peace of mind as the experience of knowing the truth.

On these premises, we see that the contraceptive mentality is only tragic symptoms of a deeper malady - which is starvation for the truth.

What is our Catholic responsibility? It is painfully obvious.

  • Our duty is to know the truth revealed by Christ and taught by His Church.

  • Our duty is to live the truth, as Christ who is Truth Incarnate showed us by His life on earth how we are to live in this passing world of space and time.

  • Our duty is to defend the truth, because we realize how disastrous are the consequences of error and how blessed are the fruits of possessing the truth.

  • Our duty is to share the truth with others, because this is the highest practice of charity, on which our salvation depends.

  • Our duty is to suffer for the truth. We are to rejoice as Christ tells us when people oppose us, criticize us, speak all kinds of calumny against us - in a word - when we are persecuted for proclaiming the truth which God, who is Truth, became man to reveal. Our Lord, Truth Incarnate, was crucified for proclaiming in Palestine.

The contraceptive mentality is a challenge to our zeal to re-evangelize a paganized America. Christ will use us as channels of His grace in this massive task of conversion on one condition: that we are willing to live a martyr’s life and, if need be, die a martyr’s death for the salvation of our beloved country; salvation in time and a heavenly eternity. Amen.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

search tips advanced search

What's New    Site Index

Home | Directory | Eucharist | Divine Training | Testimonials | Visit Chapel | Hardon Archives

Adorers Society | PEA Manual | Essentials of Faith | Dictionary | Thesaurus | Catalog | Newsletters

Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
PO Box 1237
LaCrosse, WI 54602
Phone: 608-782-0011
Contact Us

Copyright © 2000 by
All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of