Margaret Sanger, " [Historical Interview with Cardinal Tisserant] ," 18 Sept 1951.

Typed Article. Source: Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection , Margaret Sanger Microfilm S77:0066 .

For a draft version see Margaret Sanger Microfilm S77:0055. No published version was found.


Sept. 18, 1951

At 3:30 today, Sept. 18th. I arrived promptly at the address--St. Phillip’s Church----to meet again the now Cardinal Tisserant. Angus Macdonald has been anxious for several years to have us meet to discuss the possibility of getting the Vatican to a better understand of the harm done to the world by the Roman Catholic opposition to Birth Control. I had met Mnsr. Tisserant some years ago before he was a Cardinal----As he is French--a rather handsome head and face with hair and beard turning grey. His red cap and belt, rather impressive with the surroundings of priests in black robes, ushering, quietly and softly, into the presence of the Cardinal.

We talked of Angus and his business problems. Then I launched into the population of Italy. He talked on and on for at least the first thirty or forty minutes with scarcely a stop for a question. I let him talk as no one could stop him. Italy was not overpopulated except in spots--plenty of land if people would only move out in it. India not overpopulated if they would not allow the cows, the scared cow to eat their produce. Lots of space in India for the population--get rid of the cows. America thru the Colorado River project will soon be able to send water to all the land and supply food for another 75,000,000 people (million if you please). He rambled over the world. Spain--South America, Africa, then Japan. I looked surprised at all this and repeated-Japan? Yes, he said, that’s the only country thats overpopulated. Paul Blanchard’s book is all wrong, he said. Catholics do not insist that people have large families, but pleasure without pain can not be countenanced by the church----! ! No chance to check on that one. He skipped over that fact. I do not believe he believes that tale either.

When I got a chance to inject an idea, I remarked that it only needed one pleasure in a whole year to give a couple a baby every year. Oh no, said he, some women have a difficult time to get pregnant! ! We were going on a merry--go--round. His replies were so stereotyped and false--it became laughable to take him sincerely. Then he was concerned that the negro population of U.S.A. was increasing faster than the white race. My fault for Birth Control work among the intelligent, while the less intelligent were increasing. I said, “No,” not my fault. Your church is the cause of a birth rate. By denying the right of people to get Birth Control. Carolina has no Catholics, Connecticut has few Catholics. But I retorted, it’s the political Catholics everywhere who block our progress--long time in that safe period--injuries to women--Catholic women at Clinic are not Catholic. Mexicans had Catholic.

I hope to jot down as memory comes back the various things talked about. We left each other in a friendly spirit. Russian new experiment--breeding mules with pigmies, questionable if I got that correct. His English began to wane. An hour had passed--I hope I got under his skin on the safe period. When I said a cow, a mare would kick male to hell if he came near her when she was not ready. The safe period is for the man--not for the women. He was interested in this: rather

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