Thank God someone has finally stepped up to the plate and dared to take on the questions of "What do Catholics actually believe and WHY do Catholics believe this?" in a tone that suggests there might actually be some meaning behind the doctrine of this monumental institution. From the first page, Weigel establishes exactly how he will respond to the ever-present critics and cynics who keep the Catholic Church constantly in their sight: truthfully, carefully, and without apology. What a refreshing change in a cultural climate that suggests the Church exists for something other than the mission on which its foundations were originally established.
While I ultimately love and appreciate the content of this book, especially a light but accessible treatment of the true theology behind Catholic doctrine, I give the book four stars and not five because of a specific detail that, for me, detracts a bit from the overall point of the book. Weigel's clear and undying devotion to Pope John Paul II, a figure who was also the focus of a Weigel biography, clouds any attempt at an objective treatment of problematic doctrinal issues. I think some of the problems that create such cynicsm when it comes to the Church today are glossed over in an attempt to "protect" the portrayal of this man. While I completely understand the intention, this fact does seem to taint some of his credibility in reaching the people who may be questioning some of the decisions of the hierarchy of the Church. While Pope John Paul II has been a great positive force in the Church, he hasn't been the sole positive force in the Church which is a claim that Weigel implies at times.
Overall, this is the best book I've found for answers to some very complex questions. For a faith that, at times, appears completely countercultural, often for no good reason, this book gently but surely straightens out any misconceptions and paints a reasonable picture of the thought behind the belief.