Pub. Date:
Cornell University Press
Catholics and Contraception: An American History / Edition 1

Catholics and Contraception: An American History / Edition 1

by Leslie Woodcock TentlerLeslie Woodcock Tentler
Current price is , Original price is $28.5. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.


As Americans rethought sex in the twentieth century, the Catholic Church's teachings on the divisive issue of contraception in marriage were in many ways central. In a fascinating history, Leslie Woodcock Tentler traces changing attitudes: from the late nineteenth century, when religious leaders of every variety were largely united in their opposition to contraception; to the 1920s, when distillations of Freud and the works of family planning reformers like Margaret Sanger began to reach a popular audience; to the Depression years, during which even conservative Protestant denominations quietly dropped prohibitions against marital birth control.

Catholics and Contraception carefully examines the intimate dilemmas of pastoral counseling in matters of sexual conduct. Tentler makes it clear that uneasy negotiations were always necessary between clerical and lay authority. As the Catholic Church found itself isolated in its strictures against contraception—and the object of damaging rhetoric in the public debate over legal birth control—support of the Church's teachings on contraception became a mark of Catholic identity, for better and for worse. Tentler draws on evidence from pastoral literature, sermons, lay writings, private correspondence, and interviews with fifty-six priests ordained between 1938 and 1968, concluding, "the recent history of American Catholicism... can only be understood by taking birth control into account."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801474941
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 02/05/2009
Series: Cushwa Center Studies of Catholicism in Twentieth-Century America
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Leslie Woodcock Tentler is Professor of History at Catholic University of America. Her books include Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit and Wage-Earning Women: Industrial Employment and Family Life in the United States, 1900-1930.

What People are Saying About This

John Bancroft

"The Catholic Church is important to a large segment of the human race, yet it is in crisis because of issues relating to sex and reproduction. Leslie Woodcock Tentler's book takes a historical look at the Church's doctrines concerning contraception, how these have produced a serious divide between the Church and the Catholic laity, and how they have split the Catholic clergy. As we enter the twenty-first century, the importance of promoting responsibility in our sexual lives is greater than ever. Can the Catholic Church find a way to promote sexual responsibility and at the same time acknowledge the considerable benefits that responsible sex brings to Catholic men and women?"

Robert Orsi

"Leslie Woodcock Tentler brings great subtlety and a compassionate, mature discernment to the difficult history of American Catholicism's encounter with modernity. She has an extraordinary ability to represent the everyday lived experience of Catholics in vivid, textured detail which encompasses both clerical and popular practice and understanding. Catholics and Contraception is compelling, distinguished, brilliantly researched, and completely engaging."

Customer Reviews