WHY CATHOLICS ARE RIGHT
Hassan is the author of Prophecy
and the Fundamentalist Quest. Please visit
her website at: www.farzanahassan.com
are right on just about everything asserts Michael
Coren, in his persuasively written book Why
Catholics are Right (McClelland & Stewart, 2011). His
vindication of Catholic belief and practice is touching, though
not without occasional bias and dogmatism. In his defense of
Catholicism’s role in history, Coren attempts to refute
some of the common charges leveled at the Catholic church as
well as ordinary Catholics. Some of these charges involve the
church’s role in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition
and more recently, the Holocaust.
acknowledges the fact of the Crusades and the Inquisition. However,
he also provides a Catholic rationale for these historical events.
He begins by challenging the unjust opinion that “Catholics
are somehow nastier than anyone else” -- a notion that
underpins all criticism of Catholics according to the author.
Coren asserts that Catholicism in fact functioned as a moderating
influence on the tyranny of many secular institutions of the
time. He effectively dismantles myths around the Spanish Inquisition.
Although he admits that the Spanish Inquisition was initially
sanctioned by the church, it was “secular” greed
and motives that betrayed its original objectives. As for the
Crusades, they were a response to Muslim conquest of Christian
ethics is usually credited with spurring the scientific revolution
of the West, an idea postulated by Max Weber in the early part
of the twentieth century. Rarely is one introduced to the idea
that “Catholic priests as well as Catholic laypeople have
contributed to science with staggering success.” Coren
cites Edouard Lemaitre as an example of a Catholic cosmologist
who proposed the idea of the Big Bang. The author states that
Catholics engaged in scientific inquiry, theorized about tidal
waves, the wave-like nature of light and blood circulation.
it is in defending the church’s role during the Holocaust
that Coren’s arguments are the most compelling. Contrary
to popular opinion, the church “did almost all that it
could” to minimize the suffering of the European Jews.
The author cites the World Jewish Congress’ donation to
the Vatican as proof of the validity of his above contention.
Coren also provides other documentation to support the view
that the church publically denounced the Nazi death camps. When
the Pope failed to denounce Nazi anti-Semitism -- a criticism
often leveled at him -- it was for the greater good and to avoid
a larger catastrophe. Such denunciations had previously provoked
a backlash against the Jews. The author writes:
“Actually the Pope did make numerous condemnations of
Nazi racism, both before and during the war. A public statement
was, however, not without consequences and was not at all guaranteed
to achieve the desired outcome. One clear case of the tragedy
of this act and something that influenced the papal position
was what occurred in Holland when the Archbishop of Utrecht
preached against the treatment of Dutch Jews. He had been ordered
not to do so but decided he had no option. In direct response,
the Nazi rounded up not only Jews, but Jewish converts to Catholicism
. . . ”
in the book, Coren clarifies the role of the church on one of
the most controversial issues of our time: Abortion. The author
carefully explains the church’s rationale in opposing
abortion and upholding the sanctity of life even in its embryonic
form. He regards the church’s stand as highly moral. Coren
explains that among other things, the uniqueness of every human
life at conception is at once established, which is why the
church is adamant on its stand against abortion. At the same
time that the author endorses the church’s pro-life stance;
he also condemns the West’s profligate use of the world’s
resources as an “obscene gap” between the rich and
the destitute. Coren also explains and defends the church’s
position on euthanasia.
author discusses a mix of issues toward the end of the book
including the historicity of Jesus Christ. To authenticate Jesus
existence, he cites the historian Josephus as having spoken
of one Cristus who was crucified by Pontius Pilate. Coren also
claims that Jesus indeed proclaimed himself the Son of God which
is why he was crucified. None of his earliest followers, he
asserts, doubted this.
Catholics Are Right is an interesting read. It contains
informed opinions and well-documented historical accounts. But
readers might be left with the impression that the author is
out to justify every Catholic doctrine and practice, including
its refusal to ordain women priests, its stance on homosexuality
and its treatment of the sex abuse scandal.
"Catholics are somehow nastier than anyone else."
Paper tigers are also somehow more dangerous than other animals
in the jungle.
It would have been helpful had you actually cited some of his
arguments, so we could see them, instead of merely describing
them as "careful." And you completely dodged the real
issues of the RCChurch's stand on homosexuality and the abusive
Also, citing Josephus as a proof of Christ's historicity is
like citing David Solway's well publicized views of Area 51
as proof that flying saucers exist. (Josephus was writing about
80 years after Christ's death, and was born 37 years after .
. . .).
The Nazi vote actually fell in the 1933 elections. There was
a lot of Catholic opposition to Hitler and the Catholic Center
Party was its political voice. The concord between the Vatican
and the new Hitler led government that dissolved the Center
Party helped consolidate Nazi power by vitiating an established
resistant institution. That action alone calls into question
many a pious statement uttered thereafter.
Josephus was a historian, not a conspiracy theorist. It would
be more accurate to say, for example, "citing Josephus
. . . is like citing David Mccullough's biography of John Adams
as evidence about things that happened to John Adams."
Adams lived 200 years before Mccullough wrote about him, too.
by Farzana Hassan:
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Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution
Jew Is Not My Enemy
Ban the Hijab? (essay)