Friday, June 10, 2011

Why Catholics Are Right

By Michal Coren, 228 pages, Mcclelland.

Canadian journalist and writer Michael Coren addresses much of the basic Catholic-bashing that has become a normal part of culture. Rather than defensive, he often takes the battle to the atheists and liberals, who delight in slandering the Church, regardless of the truth.

Half-truths are the specialty of anti-Catholics, as they highlight such historical episodes as the Crusades, Galileo, or papal infallibility despite knowing very little about these things. Half-truths, though easily refuted, fit into our sound bite, intellectually careless culture where "I feel" is more important that "I think".

Coren's exuberance is as important to his argument as the facts he lays bare. He can inspire readers to take the fight to the slanderers: "in a culture where various forms of religious and atheistic fundamentalism, crass materialism, and clawing decadence eat away at civility and civilization the only permanent, consistent, and logically complete alternative is the Roman Catholic Church."

The fundamental flaws in Catholic attacks make it easy to go on the offensive, but many Catholics refuse to demand respect from others. That is why this book is so refreshing.

In dealing with the sexual abuse cases, he notes that Protestant denominations, with their married and female clergy, have had similar problems, as have public institutions such as schools. Catholic leaders at the time did what government and education leaders were also doing, sending offenders for counseling and moving them elsewhere. This was the liberal outlook at the time, yet liberals today produce scathing reports on the Church for simply following the liberal guidelines of the day.

Coren, again taking the argument on the offense, makes the point that one of the roots of the sexual crisis was the liberalism of the 1960s and 70s, which allowed for more permissive seminaries that accepted undesirable but politically correct candidates into the priesthood.

Throughout the book Coren notes deep anti-Catholic media bias. The UN, and its fabled peacekeepers, and sports teams have had similar sexual scandals, yet they have not been in the media spotlight.

Concerning history and such liberal sound bites as the Inquisition, the Crusades, and witch burnings, Coren shows that often the numbers are skewed, as with the witch burnings. "Millions" of women did not die; the numbers are in the tens of thousands, and it was in Protestant lands where the worst excesses occurred. Men were targeted as least as frequently as women, so this was not a case of hatred of women, as feminists have often mis-argued.

Regarding medieval and early modern justice, Coren notes: "the Church has generally been ethically and politically ahead of its time and throughout history has been an enlightened and enlightening force."

This includes the Inquisition, which was fairer and much less likely to use torture than royal instruments of law. The Spanish Inquisition is a special case. Initially approved by the pope, it soon became an instrument of Spanish government power, something Rome strongly disapproved. Its nastiness reflects the Spanish crown, not the Catholic Church.

And on it goes, slander after slander debunked. The Church needs more Michael Corens to set the record straight against a long anti-Catholic campaign. One hopes he writes a similar book to debunk all the current male-bashing.

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