Over the last few years, I've had many discussions with Protestants, Mormons, atheists, and agnostics. If there's one thing they all share in common, it's a profound confusion about what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Venerable Fulton Sheen was right: "There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church."
Dr. Christopher Kaczor agrees, and in his new book The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction about Catholicism (Ignatius Press, hardcover, 164 pages) he clears up seven of the biggest misunderstandings. The chosen myths include:
- The Church opposes science
- The Church opposes freedom and happiness
- The Church hates women
- The Church is indifferent to love because she rejects contraception
- The Church hates gays
- The Church opposes same-sex marriage for irrational reasons
- The Church's abuse crisis was due to priestly celibacy
In each chapter, Kaczor untwists the objection by combining Church teaching with historical, psychological, and social data. For example, when proving that the Church supports science, he provides several excerpts from papal teachings that hold reason and research in high regard. Even more, he highlights many great scientists who were either Catholic or educated in Catholic institutions. Finally, he explains how the Catholic Church is one of the biggest proponents of science today through her astronomy labs, research funding, and universities. He deals with controversial subjects, like the Galileo case, but shows how these outliers fit into a much larger, pro-science narrative.
Besides the chapter on science, Kaczor's chapters on contraception and homosexuality are especially sharp. I agree with Dr. Peter Kreeft who says, "The chapter on contraception is the most simple, commonsensical, winsome, and persuasive I have ever seen...The chapter on same-sex marriage has the clearest and the completest logic I have ever read on the subject." If you're looking for straightforward, rational explanations for why the Church opposes both contraception and same-sex marriage, these will help.
My only critique surrounds the second chapter, which deals with the myth that says Catholicism opposes freedom and happiness. The chapter stuck out to me both for its length and its topic. The chapter is twice as long as some of the others, and it addresses an objection which, in my experience, is uncommon among non-Catholics. Like all the others, the chapter is convincing and well-written but I wonder whether another "myth" could have been substituted, perhaps "Catholicism is built on pagan mythology."
In a religiously illiterate world, evangelization is about clarification as much as proclamation. That makes Dr. Kaczor's Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church a real winner. It's a valuable tool for the New Evangelization and will help clear away the biggest roadblocks people have to the Catholic Church.