© 2018

The Schism of ’68

Catholicism, Contraception and Humanae Vitae in Europe, 1945-1975

  • Alana Harris

Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. To the Barricades

  3. Episcopal Controversies

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 97-97
    2. Katharina Ebner, Maria Mesner
      Pages 121-158
  4. Christian Science and Catholic Conservatism

  5. Covering the Controversy

  6. Church, State and Contraception

About this book


This volume explores the critical reactions and dissenting activism generated in the summer of 1968 when Pope Paul VI promulgated his much-anticipated and hugely divisive encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which banned the use of  ‘artificial contraception’ by Catholics. Through comparative case studies of fourteen different European countries, it offers a wealth of new data about the lived religious beliefs and practices of ordinary people – as well as theologians interrogating ‘traditional teachings’ – in areas relating to love, marriage, family life, gender roles and marital intimacy. Key themes include the role of medical experts, the media, the strategies of progressive Catholic clergy and laity, and the critical part played by hugely differing Church-State relations. In demonstrating the Catholic church’s important (and overlooked) contribution to the refashioning of the sexual landscape of post-war Europe, it makes a critical intervention into a growing historiography exploring the 1960s and offers a close interrogation of one strand of religious change in this tumultuous decade.


Pope Paul VI birth control clergy sexual ethics Second Vatican Council

Editors and affiliations

  • Alana Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Alana Harris is Lecturer in Modern British History at King’s College London, UK. She has previously published Faith in the Family: A Lived Religious History of English Catholicism, 1945-1982 (2013) and Love and Romance in Britain, 1918-1970 (with Timothy W. Jones, Palgrave, 2014).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Schism of ’68
  • Book Subtitle Catholicism, Contraception and Humanae Vitae in Europe, 1945-1975
  • Editors Alana Harris
  • Series Title Genders and Sexualities in History
  • Series Abbreviated Title Genders and Sexualities in History
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-70810-2
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-09995-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-70811-9
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXI, 377
  • Number of Illustrations 5 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Modern Europe
    Cultural History
    Gender and Sexuality
    History of Religion
    Social History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The book offers some important lessons and frameworks for a project which could work on a global scale. … this book broadens our understanding of how ‘liberal’ ideas intersected with religious beliefs at a moment of profound agitation.” (David Geiringer, British Catholic History, Vol. 34 (3), May, 2019)