BOOK REVIEW SEVEN MYTHS ABOUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

From time to time I like to call attention to a good book my readers may enjoy.  Such a book is SEVEN MYTHS ABOUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH by Christopher Kaczor.  We Catholics encounter a lot of opposition out there when we try to explain our faith.  It is not always a situation that we are trying to convert; it is that we are placed in a defensive position by people who are trying to ridicule or demean us for freely practicing the faith we believe. 

They do that with attacks on the Catholic Church because it is the one defender of the Truth as God delivers it.  We are counter cultural and it makes some people crazy because they want what ever nutty idea they possess to be supported by everyone.  It makes them uncomfortable when someone doesn’t surrender to their slander and distortions. But we must continue to speak Truth to Power because Jesus commanded us at his Ascension.

I have not used quotation marks because almost all of what is copied below is from the INTRODUCTION of Christopher Kaczor book, 7 Myths.  Enjoy!

Many people today call themselves Christians, yet they believe that they can do without the Church. They love and admire Jesus, but they dislike and are suspicious of the Church.

In the conversion story of Saul on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, he was confronted by Jesus.  “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus and you are persecuting me.” Jesus did not say, “You are persecuting my disciples.” He didn’t say, “You’re persecuting my followers.” Jesus didn’t say, “You’re persecuting my friends.” Or, “You’re persecuting my church.” No. “Why are you persecuting me?”.  Jesus and his Church are one. Jesus equals his Church. Jesus and his Church are a package deal. . . .

The biggest obstacle to people seeing this unity between Christ and his Church is the sinfulness of the members of the Church. As G. K. Chesterton said, “The only good argument against Christianity is Christians.” The sins of every member of the Church make the message of Jesus less credible and injure the mission given by Jesus to the Church to make disciples of all nations.

If the best argument against Christianity is (bad) Christians, then the best argument for Christianity is (good) Christians. Indeed, Christianity is properly measured not by its great sinners but by its great saints who have lived out the Gospel message, not the great sinners.

Would it be fair to judge a hospital by the patients who disregard doctor’s orders and fail to take their medication?   Would it be fair to judge a school by the students who do not pay attention in class and fail to do their homework? The Church’s holiness, her unity with Jesus, is best seen in the saints, by those who most fully lived the message and sacramental life of the Church, by Saint Francis of Assisi and by Mother Teresa, as well as by the holy people that we’ve known personally in our lives.

Popes, bishops, and priests can be as good or bad as anyone else  There is a difference between infallibility (inability to teach false doctrine) and impeccability (inability to sin)..The official and formal teaching of the Church, in certain limited situations is infallible, but no one in the Church militant (those on earth) is impeccable. Infallibility also has nothing to do with Church governance. For example, serious mistakes have been made in terms of putting in the best possible person to be the next bishop of a diocese or expelling horrible priests from ministry.

Scandal and sins by people inside the Church have been a sad reality for two thousand years and will continue until the end of time. But the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit is even more operative in the Church, from her very beginning until the end of time.

Unfortunately, negative experiences with Catholics, especially those in positions of authority, have been an occasion for people to reject the Church. “Father McNellis, my parish priest, was so rude to me in confession, that I just left and never came back.” “My third grade teacher, Sister Ignatius, was the meanest person that I have ever met, so I quit being Catholic.”

But, consider any other group of people. Recall your past interactions with physicians in the doctor’s office or hospital. I’ve had many doctors who were uncaring, inattentive, and lacking in compassion, but it would be absurd for me to reason, “That’s it. I’m not seeking medical attention ever again.”

Or consider students getting their education. I certainly had teachers who were unfair, unkind, and impatient. But it would have been ridiculous for me as a sophomore to conclude, “I’ve had enough of Mrs. Franklin. I’m dropping out of school.”

We should still belong to the Church despite the bad members of the Church. After all, if the Church were admitting to her ranks only perfect and sinless members, we ourselves would not be allowed to join. The Church is a hospital for sinners, people just like us and even worse, with faults and foibles, who are called, with the help of God, to love God and neighbor better.

The unity of Christ and the Church is evident in the preservation of the Church teaching what is true when it comes to faith and morals. Christ came to reconcile us to the Father and to speak the truth to us in love. Unless there is an authentic interpreter of the message of Jesus, this message is in danger of being compromised. Jesus loved us enough to provide a living, authentic interpreter of the the Gospel to ensure that his message would be transmitted faithfully in every age. Catholics believe this authentic interpretation is given by the teaching of the Church,

In the contemporary world, misinformation and myth abound in reference to certain key issues. The Seven Myths about the Catholic Church that will be discussed in this book are: Everyone “knows”1the Church opposes happiness and freedom, The Myth of Catholic Indifference to Earthly Welfare, 2.The Church Opposes Science: The Myth of Catholic Irrationality,    3.The Church Hates Women: The Myth of Catholic Misogyny, 4.The Church Hates Gays: The Myth of Catholic “Homophobia” 5.Indifferent to Love, the Church Banned Contraception. 6. The Church Opposes Same-Sex Marriage Because of Bigotry, 7Priestly Celibacy Caused the Crisis of Sexual Abuse of Minors: The Myth of Priestly Pedophilia

No book can answer everyone’s questions, objections, and concerns, but this work examines and clarifies seven of the most controversial and most common myths about the Catholic Church.

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