THE SEVEN BIG MYTHS ABOUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
by Christopher Kaczor
(Ignatius Press, 2012, 164pp, Hardback, $34.95, ISBN: 978-1-58617-791-1. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Much of the hostility towards the Catholic Church is based on ignorance and prejudice. This is the argument of Christopher Kaczor in his recent book, The Seven Big Myths About the Catholic Church.
A professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Kaczor started by pointing out that the Church is made up of both saints and sinners and that mistakes in governance can indeed occur.
The first myth examined is the idea that religion and science are in conflict. Historically, this is demonstrably false, Kaczor argues, pointing to the numerous examples of Catholics and priests who played major roles in scientific discovery.
The second myth is that the Church opposes freedom and happiness by saying no to a number of actions. Sensual happiness, Kozcor argues, is very transitory and incapable of addressing issues such as the search for meaning in life.
The Church, he explains, teaches that happiness comes about in the practice of love of God and neighbour. Therefore, it does not oppose true happiness, but rather a false conception of happiness that limits itself to riches, power or pleasure.
The idea that the Church hates women is another myth addressed in the book. The causes for this opinion range from the Church's opposition to abortion and contraception to the restriction of the priesthood to men.
Kaczor points to Gospel passages in which Jesus demonstrates his high regard for women and refusal to be bound by the cultural and ritualistic laws of the time regarding women.
In Christian ethics men and women are subject to the same moral standards and, moreover, Christianity offered more support for women than the cultures in the ancient world. In fact, throughout the history of the Church there have been more women converts and women active in Church life than men.
Regarding the Church's opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS Kazcor cites research on the situation in Africa that shows reliance on condoms has not been an effective way to combat HIV/AIDS. Instead, abstinence, and fidelity within marriage, are the most effective methods and ones taught by the Catholic Church.
The argument that celibacy causes the crisis of sexual abuse of minors is another position that Kazcor describes as a myth. He quotes research and comments from a variety of experts on the matter of sexual abuse, who maintain that celibacy is not the issue.
For example, the 2004 report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found a lower level of child sex abusers among clergy compared to school teachers and members of the general population of men.
In any case, a much greater percentage of sexual abuse takes place within families than by clergy of any denomination. A cohabiting boyfriend or a stepfather is much more likely to abuse children than a Catholic priest. Yet, Kazcor notes, the media overwhelmingly concentrate their attention on the Catholic Church.
These often little known facts make Kazcor's book a worthwhile read at a time when many misconceptions persist regarding the Catholic Church.
With acknowledgement to the Zenit News Service.