Our Greatest Moral Responsibility: To Convert the Contraceptive Mentality

An audio tape by Father John A. Hardon, S.J., S.T.D. -

Eternal Life , P.O. Box 787, Bardstown, KY 40004-0787, 502-348-3963, 1-800-842-2871. What follows are excerpts from the tape. Please see end of this document.

Father Hardon
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary, full of Grace; the Lord is with Thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour our death. Amen. Mary, Mother of the Holy Family, pray for us. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Our conference this evening has the unusual title "Our Greatest Moral Responsibility: To Convert The Contraception Mentality." 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 pass as our greatest responsibility? Yes, so it is. In my judgment, the contraception mentality is the single deepest issue facing Western society. Notice, I call it "the contraception mentality." 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 most, you might say, at its most destructive as the root of the massive assault in today's society on the human family. Nothing less is at stake than the survival of Western, and with emphasis, American society.

Still by way of introduction. Not too many years ago, in our United States, contraception was forbidden by civil law. Now, you might almost say that the very opposite is true. To avoid contraception, to have a family, to rear children according to the Will of God, is becoming more and more difficult and, correspondingly, more contrary to the mentality of not just our nation, but of most of the countries, certainly of the Western world.

So, we ask ourselves, what is -- and I have two names -- what is "the contraception," or what is "the contraceptive mentality"? The contraceptive mentality is the philosophy which claims that contraception is not morally wrong. Indeed, according to this philosophy, it can be morally good for the welfare of those who practice contraception, and -- certainly so its proponents claim -- for the welfare of the human race. And I am speaking just a few weeks after the historic Cairo-Egypt conference, at the bottom of which was the plan to legislate -- under dire financial and all kinds of economic and political sanctions -- legislate, mandate contraception, sterilization, and abortion.

Immediately as we say this, you must distinguish between two classes of people who, as we know by now, in libraries of books defend contraception. There is an unchristian world that has not been touched by the moral principles of historic Christianity. And there are those who profess to be Christians, yet, ironically, find nothing objectively wrong in the practice of contraception.

First then, the non-Christian world. Contrary to popular opinion, contraception is not -- with emphasis - it is not a modern innovation. It was practiced since the dawn of recorded history…

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 in so far as the basic principles of Christian morality were inoperative. We might go further. Over the years, in teaching the history of contraception, I pointed out to my students that for centuries, indeed millennia, before the coming of Christ, contraception -- I repeat -- was universally assumed to be morally legitimate and correspondingly approved by the civil law…

Let us pause for a few minutes and ask ourselves what happened. What happened - and we are talking now about nineteen centuries? Already by the end of the first century there are written documents issued by Christian authorities reprobating, condemning, and always condemning three practices, and in sequence, contraception, abortion and infanticide. As Christianity spread not only numerically but ideologically, its moral influence on whole continents became imbedded in the civil laws of all the corresponding nations. It took, therefore, apostasy, apostasy in a Christian religion -- and how this needs to be said -- in that Christian religion of English origin that has so deeply infected, and, by now, devastated our own beloved country. Christianity was instituted by Christ to provide the moral soundness -- let's call it "the soul of society." As long as Christians remained firm and faithful to their principles, the rest of the world where Christianity was established followed their lead. Once Christians caved in, whole nations fell along with them.

By way of a short analysis of what we said so far, before we go on. Already, therefore, before the end of the second millennium, it is now simply assumed in much of the modern world that contraception is not only justified, but has to be prescribed by the moral law. I sure hope I'm clear! It is no longer toleration, no longer permission, it is now prescription. The grounds for this "widespread mentality," as we are calling it, are mainly the professed priority of each person's own conscience. How this needs to be underlined! Instead of the mind and will of God being the guide which sets the norms for moral behaviour, it is now each person's own mind determined by each person's own will. What that person decides is good, becomes good. What that person decides is evil, is evil. In other words, each person's conscience is his own judge of what is morally good or morally bad. Conscience, therefore, has been redefined to mean each person's own free will independent of an objective Divine Law which teaches us our minds what is morally right or wrong.

I'm saying much more than meets the ears. What I am saying is that through the widespread, all but universal, practice of contraception, certainly in the once-Christian Western world, the very norms of morality have been changed. Instead of God determining what is right or wrong, it is now each person's own will which is sovereign! So that, once contraception has been morally justified, and become even laudable and praiseworthy -- hear it and weep -- there is now no crime, no crime, that the same human mind cannot justify and that the civil laws created by human beings cannot legalize.

I have begun to use the term, nations have become morally "insane." And the moral insanity is rooted in the denial that there is a God who stands above man as man's Creator who determines what is right, what is wrong. It is no longer God but man himself. Better it is now man who has become his own god. As I have been saying now for several years, the old paganism was polytheistic -- a belief in many gods. The new paganism is strictly, severely monotheistic. There is faith, alright, but faith in only one god, and this god is independent, the independent and autonomous ego who is responsible to no one, except "HIMSELF."

What is our Catholic responsibility? Remember we began this conference with the title "Our Gravest Moral Responsibility Is To Convert The Contraceptive Mentality." I wish to assure you this is not symbolic language; it is stark reality. We Catholics are in possession of the fullness 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 I never tire repeating to one audience after another -- this modern media of communications world Marshall McLuhan correctly calls "a Luciferian conspiracy against the truth." It sure is!

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 2000 students, many non-Catholic, and many non-Christian, whom I taught -- I can tell you -- Oh, how they desperately, how they desperately want to know the truth. The people of our country, and I am using a very weak word, are "starving" for the truth: famished for the truth. They are hungry for the only food that can nourish the human mind, which is the truth.

Over the years, I have identified peace of mind as knowing the truth. No wonder, statistically, some seventy million Americans are managing to reach some semblance of peace of mind on medically prescribed tranquilizers -- seventy million. They are starving for the truth! This is what we have, and before God we have a duty to share what we possess. On these premises, we see that the contraceptive mentality is not only a tragic symptom of mistaken people. It is the symptom of a deep, deep malady, which is starvation for the truth.

So, we ask ourselves, what is our Catholic responsibility? How I wish I could stand on the top of the Empire State building, or have access to the most powerful television station in the country and shout, plead, plead with those who have the fullness of the truth, as we possess. Our duty -- and I say this and I mean it from the depths of my soul -- 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 - to live the truth!

What is our duty? 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. What a gift, what a gracious gift from the mind of God to have given us -- unworthy creatures that we are -- the treasure of possessing the truth -- but let me repeat -- but not, but not to be hugged by ourselves alone.

What's our duty? Our duty is to share the truth with others, because this is the highest practice of charity -- and I have to add -- on which our own salvation depends. We believe no one can be saved unless they have the true faith. The measure of possession depends on the degree to which those who have the truth share it with others. We shall be judged, judged on our own practice of charity mainly -- I repeat -- our charity in sharing the truth that Christ gave us, with everyone whom He put into our lives.

I am not quite finished. 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 the truth, became man to reveal. Our Lord, Truth Incarnate, was crucified for proclaiming the truth 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 We must be willing -- and I mean it -- we must be 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 destiny in Eternity. Amen. Thank you for listening to me.

N.B. For a copy of this tape, other audiotapes, albums, books and catechisms by Father John A. Hardon, S.J., S.T.D. write to Eternal Life (Web page: www.lifeeternal.org) at the above address; or Email: orders@lifeeternal.org; Fax: 502-348-2224.
Father Hardon, a member of the Society of Jesus, was born in 1914 and died on December 30, 2000. He was an internationally renowned and highly respected theologian, an advisor to His Holiness Pope John Paul II, preacher, professor, lecturer, and a prolific writer of many books, articles, etc. on the matters of Faith and Morals.

A Prayer Card containing a picture of Father Hardon, and a Prayer for the Glorification of him, authored by His Eminence Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, p.s.s. can be purchased from Eternal Life. On that Card is the following statement by Father Hardon: unless we recover the zeal and the spirit of the first century Christians - unless we are willing to do what they did and to pay the price that they paid, the future of our country, the days of America are numbered.

2001 Catholics Against Contraception