I did not find this an anti-Catholic novel. It is true that all the characters whose journey in Catholicism we follow, question, challenge and modify their beliefs and practices. It is a provocative work, even now after several decades, when the central concerns of the book may seem outmoded, and it directs its criticism in various directions. There is robust criticism of the traditional Catholic upbringing prior to the 1960s; there is more sensitive criticism of the Church hierarchy (Lodge expresses his understanding, as well as his disappointment, of the reasons underpinning the publication of encyclical Humanae Vitae); the liberal wing too (to which this book is most sympathetic) is not immune from criticism as its more adventurous excesses are exposed, to slight ridicule. However, almost all the characters continue to affirm the central importance of faith in their lives and most of them find a place for the expression of their faith within the Catholic church.
As a practising Catholic, I therefore found it a very positive novel, one which invited readers to re-evaulate the place of faith in the modern world. Although the birth control question, which is a central in this novel, is now no longer a matter of widespread concern to Catholics in the UK, there are still pressing questions about the relationship between Church and secular society, so the serious questions of the book still have relevance.
The humour may be more elusive in this novel than in others by David Lodge, but there is nevertheless a levity, which I found very welcome, particularly to counter the grimness of some of the events and the non-fictional explanations of Church history which break up the narrative.