A Jesuit Speaks Out Against Birth Control, 1925!

My father was a good student.  He received two scholarships: 4 years to a Jesuit high school and 4 years to the University of Detroit.  As a result I have the Varsity News published by UD (December 1925).  This magazine has an article on my dad titled “He’s the Best Student in the University.”  In looking through the magazine I noticed an article titled “This Pig-Philosophy” written by Rev. John A McClorey, S.J., a professor of metaphysics, in which he speaks out against birth control.  Following are some quotes from the Introduction and the article.

(Introduction to the article: “Aroused by the notoriety recently given the tenets of the ‘pig philosophy’—Fr. McClorey attacked these subversive teachings in an address which he delivered before his classes in the Arts and Science College just before Thanksgiving.  He treated the subject with the frankness, sincerity, force and logic which have made his Lenten and other addresses famous throughout the West.”)

The article begins: “I apologize to you for speaking of birth control.  For though of late it has become quite the ‘respectable’ thing, it is nothing more than what Carlyle would call  ‘Pig Philosophy,’  which emphasizes with the insistence of pornographic degeneracy the unveiled passionateness of Sex.  Why should I speak equably, with chill and measured detachment, in the presence of an evil that is striking at children, the home, the nation and the race?”

Other quotes in the article:
“Birth control is an unnatural vice because by physical or chemical means it directly and intentionally frustrates the primary end of marriage.  If an exception could be made to the natural law against it, it could not be made by men and women under the law, but by God, the Author of the law.  We may control nature, not frustrate it.  But birth control is birth frustration.”

“The program of birth controllers is a direct and powerful appeal to sexual indulgence.”

“Birth control destroys mutual marital affection and respect…Birth control destroys mutual respect.  For it is what Bernard Shaw calls ‘Reciprocal Masturbation.’  Birth controllers who surfeit themselves with sexual delight, then defeat the reproductive purpose and consequence of that delight, are more unnatural and disgusting than the ancient aristocracy of Rome who used to feast to repletion, then take an emetic (pardon the reference), vomit and return to another feast.”

Fr. McClorey ends his article:
“Birth control is in contradiction to Christ charity. ‘The survival of the fittest’ is plausable. But Christ did not act on that principle.  On the contrary, He was the Friend of the down-and-out—the poor, the lame, the sick, the deaf and dumb, the lepers, the weakminded, the vicious, the possessed.  He took care of them, saw that they survived, and bettered them.  He did not wish to extinguish them by birth control or any other means.

“But birth controllers flatter the rich, assuring them that the uncontrolled fecundity of the poor, and their own cupidity, is responsible for misery and poverty.  Indeed, they go further into the vice of positive cruelty.  For since they do not want an unfit future race; since the unfortunate can procreate only an unfit future race; since the unfortunate will do so if they are sheltered and made comfortable by the charity of the rich, therefore the rich ought to withhold their charity and let the flotsam and jetsam of humanity perish out of hand.  This diabolical doctrine can be found in Mrs. Sanger’s latest book.

“Christ brought into the world a thing which had not been here before, the sweetest thing on earth: Mercy and compassion in the hearts of the well-to-do towards the victims of fate, and peace, self-respect and humility in the hearts of the unfortunate.  This may be called the beautiful soul of Christianity.  And its body has been an improved and ever improving condition among the masses of Christianity.  If we practice the charity of Christ, we shall not enjoy, it is true, the perfect prosperity of a bourgouis heaven on earth proposed by birth controllers, but we shall have a condition of decent sufficiency.”

Sheila Kippley

2 Responses to “A Jesuit Speaks Out Against Birth Control, 1925!”

  1. Julianne Wiley says:

    I want to read the whole article. Can it be found anywhere online? Or will you post it?

    Thought provoking. Fascinating. And I think my fave philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe would approve.

  2. SHEILA: We decided not to post the entire article as some things were said that probably would not be said today. I tried to scan it but could not get it as a document. If you send me a regular business envelope (4″ x 9.5″) with a 45 cent stamp, I can mail the article to you. I would need your regular address. Send such an envelope to NFP International;
    P. O. Box 11216, Cincinnati OH 45211.