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ConfessionCatholics, Repentance, and Forgiveness in America$
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Patrick W. Carey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190889135

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190889135.001.0001

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Confession, the New Psychology, and Birth Control, 1920–60

Confession, the New Psychology, and Birth Control, 1920–60

Chapter:
(p.199) Chapter 8 Confession, the New Psychology, and Birth Control, 1920–60
Source:
Confession
Author(s):

Patrick W. Carey

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190889135.003.0009

The chapter addresses challenges from empirical psychology and psychiatry that called into question some of the inherited conceptions of sin and guilt. Those relatively new sciences caused some in the Catholic tradition to oppose the psychological approaches as a threat to the confessional tradition and others to reconsider confession in the face of the emerging sciences and to emphasize the benefits of the new psychology for understanding neuroses and mental illnesses that confessors periodically encountered in the confessional. Some, too, underlined the therapeutic and psychological benefits of auricular confession that were consistent with the new sciences. The moral issue of birth control also arose for Catholics in the early 1930s when Pope Pius XI condemned the use of all artificial means of birth regulation. Anecdotal and statistical evidence seems to indicated that significant numbers of childbearing Catholics practiced birth control and a few ceased going to confession because of it.

Keywords:   psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, confession, Fulton Sheen, Victor White, Pius XII, birth control, alcoholism

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