The Catholic Thing
Why Catholics Are Right Print E-mail
By Michael Coren   
Thursday, 19 May 2011

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Michael Coren is a new writer for The Catholic Thing, but an old friend to several of us here. He’s had a remarkable career as a journalist in England and Canada (where he now lives), a writer of arresting books on Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and as a television and radio personality   – and he is still a relatively young man. He’s just one of several new and distinguished contributors we will be bringing you as The Catholic Thing expands. We need your support, not only for the expansion, but just to keep doing what keeps you coming back to this site every day. Please don’t make me beg. Do your part to keep this vital stream of Catholic thought and action flowing. Make your contribution to The Catholic Thing today.

When I first told friends and colleagues about my new book Why Catholics Are Right, they were intrigued by the proposed content but disturbed by the title: “Sounds a little proud”; “Is that sufficiently conciliatory for these progressive and pluralistic days?”; and “You ought to be careful because it might offend people.”

Which is odd. When I suggested to them titles for other books by other people such as Why Liberals Are Right, Why Conservatives Are Right, even Why Muslims Are Right, and especially Why Atheists Are Right, they thought them entirely reasonable and unlikely to cause any problems at all.

To believe something is, self-evidently, not to believe something that is its contrary. So obvious is this that it is not questioned and seems a taken-for-granted truth about most subjects. It is, after all, just common sense. But to claim that being an authentic Roman Catholic necessitates believing that Roman Catholicism is correct positively terrifies many modern men and women, as though a Catholic claiming to be right was some terrible sin. Not that many of these people believe in sin of course.

The implication – that being Catholic means, well, being Catholic and leads to the persecution or killing of others who are not Catholic – is naturally insulting. But as we know – and I think the critics really do as well – being Catholic means nothing of the sort. Still, it usually takes only a few moments during a disagreement for someone to bring up the days when Catholics did indeed give their opponents a hard time, as though in all of history only Catholics have ever got that wrong or even just acted like most people in earlier ages.

So I kept the title for a specific reason: to oblige and demand a certain clarity from readers. I’m a Catholic and believe in Catholicism. And thus I believe that people who disagree with my beliefs are wrong. I do not dislike them – or at least don’t dislike all of them – nor do I wish to hurt them, even those who wish to hurt me and will probably wish to hurt me even more after they read this book, pretend to read it, or read nasty reviews of it.

I do, however, want these readers to consider what I have to say and not to abuse my beliefs in a manner and with a harshness that they would not dream of using against almost any other creed or religion. It might be a romantic hope, but hope is a theological virtue, one of those Catholic qualities we like to think of as important and helpful.

Having said this, there are degrees of wrongness. Some people are only slightly wrong, others wrong most of the time and to a shocking degree. Non-Catholic Christians and in particular serious Evangelicals and Eastern Orthodox believers are examples of the former. Many of them could teach Catholics a great deal about love, charity, and devotion to God.

Alleged Christians who want to edit rather than follow Christ, professional atheists who flood the Internet with their obsessions, and part-time Catholic-bashers are in the latter camp.

Which brings me to the anti-Catholicism that has become the last acceptable prejudice in what passes for polite society and has become so obvious and so pronounced that even to point out the fact seems almost banal. We have all heard comments about Catholics that, applied to almost any other group, would simply not be tolerated. It’s bad enough when this is street conversation and pointless gossip, far worse when it passes for informed comment in allegedly serious newspapers.

British historian and biographer Christopher Hibbert put it well when he said that historically the pope had been thought of as, “an unseen, ghost-like enemy, lurking behind clouds of wicked incense in a Satanic southern city called Rome.” In much of contemporary Anglo-Saxon culture, as well as the greater modern world, this perverse caricature has found a second wind.

As you can see, my book was written out of experience as well as research. My experience has taught me that attacks usually begin with the history, then with a misunderstanding of what the Church believes and teaches, then with angry comments about why the Church is so “obsessed” with the life issues and then a whole bunch of criticisms. These days, tragically, the Catholic clergy abuse scandal is thrown in somewhere. It has to be discussed – but honestly and accurately.

The rest of the punches thrown at the Catholic body? The Church was nasty to Galileo; the Church tried to convert Muslims, and the Crusades were horrible; Hitler was a Catholic and the pope was a Nazi; the Inquisition slaughtered millions of people; the Church is rich and does nothing for the poor; children were abused and the Vatican knew about it all and did nothing; celibacy leads to perversion; Catholics worship statues; Catholics believe the pope is infallible and can never do anything wrong; and so on and so on and so on.

It’s all nonsense. Yet nonsense that is given a veneer of credibility by thinking people who shape opinion. All this makes the Church unique in the twenty-first century as a victim institution. In almost every other area, we’ve matured as a people and a culture to the point where such crass generalizations and fundamentally flawed opinions would not make it past the alehouse door.

I am often driven to say to the mass of uninformed critics: think and agree, think and disagree, think whatever you like. But in the name of God and the Church He left us, please think!

Michael Coren
is a television and radio host and journalist based in Toronto, Canada. His syndicated columns run each week in a dozen national newspapers, and his TV show is watched by almost a quarter of a million people each night. He is the author of thirteen books, and has received numerous awards for his broadcasting and writing. He is also a noted public speaker. His website is

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Comments (13)Add Comment
written by Aeneas, May 19, 2011
Welcome to the TCT Mr. Coren! I enjoyed the piece, and look forward to reading your book. It's sad to say it, but books like this (dealing with anti-catholicism) are needed now more than ever. Im glad there are voices like yours out there speaking the truth and fighting the good fight!
written by Dennis Larkin, May 19, 2011
Somewhere Belloc dismissed a critic as talking "nonsense on such a scale that it's becoming difficult to deal with." These are the critics of the Church which Mr Coren must contend with.
written by LMA, May 20, 2011
There is nothing wrong or "prideful" at all for standing up for one's beliefs, and the Catholic Church has much to commend it. Too many critics recite hackneyed claims or offer "perverse caraciature[s]" without even attempting to understand the reality of church practice and doctrine. But I take issue with, "All this makes the Church unique in the twenty-first century as a victim institution." Are you kidding? Try being a Mormon sometime and tell me how that goes.
written by Russell, May 20, 2011
That someone professing a certain belief would write a book defending his position is an act so reasonable and unexceptional that there is no place for it in our unsane world.
written by Lagniappe, May 20, 2011
I applaud the forthrightness of Mr. Coren (and other Catholics) when stating that the Catholic Church is the "right way." I would anticipate that it implies there is no salvation in any other Church, person, etc., as stated in CCC n. 874, as well in Trent decrees. Therefore, make the "truth" so sacrosanct that you shout it from the housetops.
Why is ecumenism a major cover for your truth? I, a former RC, look at (with humility and respect) Catholicism as a sponge that absorbs all within its sphere in the name of being One and yet find that the sponge is never squeezed dry. My word picture is meant to reflect a history of acceptance of most any group (pagan, Protestant, animists, and the lists is ever expanding) to bring these souls into the fold (via baptism). But some customs are allowed to still be part of these converts belief system though they are most probably cultural issues rather than theological.
Your decree to absolute justification must be the summun bonum and no wavering allowed. My friends, do not make yourselves into victims and hide behind so called "hate speech" because a rebuttal is offered with civility, but rather stay on the offense (as you are now doing especially in the blogger world). Few can rival the convoluted arguments about eternal hope you have claimed but people speak the truth with their wallets and their feet -- If Catholicism is right, why such a diminishing of cradle Catholics for the last 5 decades (I do not refer to any scandals)? My Catholic education was exceptional, the clergy were honorable, the church was beautiful, but the underlying reality is that way too many only held to the church because they had to in order to save face with family, friends, business, or fear. How fearful is it to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). May we all keep that in the forefront of our thinking as Mr. Coren states: I am often driven to say to the mass of uninformed critics: think and agree, think and disagree, think whatever you like. But in the name of God and the Church He left us, please think!
written by Robert Hunter, May 21, 2011
I loved the closing line: "Please think." And I love all the good, humanitarian acts of the Church and its related organizations all over the world. In response to the title of the book, I believe there is a lot of "right" in many churches. Thus, more than one religion can be "right." While I am closely associated with certain Catholic organizations, I am not a Catholic. Nevertheless, the title of the book does not disturb or offend me in any way.
written by Tim, May 21, 2011
When I converted to Catholicism about 15 years ago, it perplexed my secular friends and horrified all non-Catholic Christ believers. They said do anything but Join the Catholic Church and threw out some whore of Babylon stuff. Then I read St. john Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillar, and it all made sense. I was on that ship headed for the Eucharist and Mary, constantly under attack. Jesus prayed, not that we should be taken our of the world or that we should not suffer but, that we should be one. It's a great scandal that among Christ professing people there is such uncharitable behavior.
written by paul v, July 02, 2011
i'm a big fan of Michael Coren, we would agree on many issues but in this case he is wrong imo.i was born and raised roman catholic, one day i realized --- although i considered myself a good "catholic" i was a lousy Christian. i'm not saying somebody can't be a good "catholic" and a good Christian but it wasn't working for me. the more i studied the bible and prayed the more questions i had about the rcc. why did it appear to me the rcc changed the ten commandments and was breaking the first four commandments. why when i compared how the apostles acted in the bible it was nothing like the church leaders of the day were acting. and many more issues. when i discussed these issues most people were very nice but it always boiled down to we are right and you are wrong because only the rcc can interpret the bible,papal infallibility in matters of faith and because of church tradition. so the deck is kind of stacked. then one person said if you don't believe all the official teachings of the rcc you aren't a roman catholic you are a heretic. it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. i left the rcc and feel closer to God and have become a much better Christian. imo the rcc went off course once the gentiles took over and the spirits of paganism and anti-semitism crept into the church. they really screwed things up in the 4th century when they got in bed with the roman empire. may the peace of Jesus Christ be with you all. God bless.
written by Ina Bach, August 08, 2011
Thanks for this piece. Its so true what you write. I am a convert from Lutheran Christianity, and I found that Catholicism is the only truly credible Church today, it has the continuity both in moral -and faith teaching that Jesus Christ promised in his words to Peter. I never found such coherency and logic anywhere else, and certainly not in agonosticism and atheism, which is a very dangerous ism indeed. Catholic-bashing is the most politically correct bigotry of all today.
written by TRENT LANGE, March 20, 2013
The catholic church needs to stop making up their own beliefs, they use the Bible as a toy in their little game. They are some of the best wolves in sheeps clothing. People need to wake up,The pope has no say so or authority over the Bible. Praying to the virgin mary and all their other false gods, makes me sick. Its sad.
I pray for all of them to come to the light, but I realize there is no hope for most of them.
They are pure satanic evil.
written by joe castillo, March 25, 2013
The Catholic church put the bible together. in terms of new and old testament as we know it today. The bible is a Catholic book. She would never put something in scripture that disagrees with her. This is a historic fact!
written by F, May 19, 2013
You're wrong!!! Jesus never said he was the pope!!! Therefore Catholicism is wrong!!
written by Dave, January 23, 2014
Hello, I will not be able to convince you, but really read scripture and save your soul. Scipture is made of two kinds of understanding. Milk verses and spirit verses. Spirit verses are turned into milk verses, and lies are a result. Proof 1Cor 3: 1, 2, 3. All of 1Cor is milk verses. An example Moses crossing the Red Sea has a spiritual meaning, that is not taught, even the Catholic Church does not know this. So therefore the Catholics is not the true Church. Come see me and I will show you some Spiritual things in scipture.
Thanks Dave

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