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Thank God for the Catholic Truth Society, semper fidelis: more a cornucopia than a publishing company

English Catholics owe the CTS a debt of gratitude which is rarely expressed as it should be

By on Friday, 31 May 2013

The Catholic Truth Society website lists its latest publications

The Catholic Truth Society website lists its latest publications

Every so often, the Catholic Truth Society sends me a bundle of its latest publications, and I am able, sometimes, to say something about some of them. This time, I shall say something at least about nearly all of them. But there is something to be said first about the CTS itself, a body which we tend to take for granted. There are pamphlets at the back of Church; of course there are; that’s in the nature of things, isn’t it? And someone has to publish them: what difference does it make who does it? The opening paragraph of Wikipedia’s entry says everything that needs to be said, surely:

“The Catholic Truth Society (CTS) is a body that prints and publishes Catholic literature, including apologetics but also prayerbooks, spiritual reading, lives of saints and so forth. It is based in London in the United Kingdom.”

Well, it’s not all that needs to be said; nor is it in the nature of things that there should be pamphlets available on practically any topic we need, as individual Catholics, to know about: there could be nothing at all. And it makes a huge difference who does it: if there were some other outfit filling the vacuum left by the non-existence of the CTS, the whole operation might be in the hands of the Spirit of Vatican II boys, busily inventing the brand new Church the Council is supposed by them to have inaugurated.

The point is that even when things over the last half-century were looking at their bleakest for the English Church, the CTS remained staunch in its vocation as “publishers to the Holy See”. There was no liberal sell-out at the back of Church, if CTS pamphlets were there at all: and very often, the convenience of having them there has been so huge in terms of the time it saves the clergy that even when the sermons have been a bit dodgy, the pamphlets were still made available.

There might easily have been no CTS. The society was founded in 1868 by Cardinal Herbert Vaughan, but was wound up when he was made a bishop, since he no longer had time for it: it was revived in 1884, under the presidency of Cardinal Vaughan himself: this was largely as a lay initiative, a fact which has through the years been one of the society’s greatest strengths.

Today, the CTS publishes an extraordinarily wide selection of booklets and leaflets in many different areas: Catholic apologetics, morality, doctrine, sacraments, the saints, Church history, spirituality, and prayer, as well as booklet editions of the four Gospels and other Biblical texts. It also produces study courses, Bibles, the New English Missal, and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The fact that it has been a largely lay-led initiative has meant that it naturally reflected the relationship between the English laity and the Pope of the day, a relationship which has, sadly, often been stronger than that between the Vatican and the English Bishops. This has resulted in a consistent faithfulness, which latterly led to the CTS being given one of the Imprimaturs still worth having, that of Father Joseph Fessio, inventor and still editor in chief of the Ignatius Press, which a year or two ago decided to distribute CTS material in North America. This is what he said at the time:

“Over the years I have been impressed by the quality, variety, and magisterial faithfulness of these booklets…. They are truly outstanding. They are concise, clear, readable, and rooted in Catholic teaching and tradition. They will be a source of spiritual growth and understanding of the faith for all who read them. Plus, many of the booklets are superb for giving to non-Catholics and former Catholics.”

And so to their latest batch of titles, though I begin with one I came across on the Ignatius website, and which I would love to read: Galileo: Science and Faith, by Dr William Carroll. The blurb for this which appears in the online advertising material graphically illustrates why lay people at the back of church, once they have picked a CTS booklet up, so often take it away, intrigued: “The Galileo controversy supposedly shows that the Church is against reason and science. This booklet explains the facts of the Galileo case and traces the subsequent development of the myth that the Catholic Church is the enemy of science. This history proves that even in the Galileo case, the Church remained true to its belief that faith and reason belong together.” Wouldn’t you like to read that?

The present batch contains the following titles. Only one of them looks a bit heavy to me: The Word of the Lord: Discovering Verbum Domini, a large booklet produced by a committee appointed by the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales (prop. Bishop Kieran Conry). My first thought, perhaps unjust, was that the poor old CTS could hardly get out of being lumbered with it once they had been asked to do it.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying this title won’t repay the effort of using it. It is designed for “group sessions” (not, I have to admit, my cup of tea). It all looks kosher enough: it warns against trying to understand the Bible unaided, for instance: “If we interpret the Bible on our own we may fail to understand its message…. We should understand the Bible within the developing Tradition of the Church….”

But I am more attracted by two other scriptural titles: Firstly,Understanding the Story of the Bible , by Eileen Clare Grant, a Benedictine oblate of Pluscarden Abbey. This surveys carefully chosen strategic landmarks of the Old Testament, arriving at the New Covenant only in the last chapter: it is all designed to prepare us for the story of Our Lord’s Birth, “in the fullness of time”, It is, in fact, a brilliant preliminary introduction to the New Testament itself.

Secondly, a most original and gutsy piece of writing: Desire and Delight: intimacy with God through the Scriptures by Fr Robert Taylerson (a tutor at Oscott). Its final paragraph explains the title: “Desire and delight should be experienced as part of the normal journey towards God…. They prepare us for the fullness of the Beatific Vision, which is the ultimate vocation, the final shared delight in eternity, to which God is calling each of us”. The whole text is a powerful and inspiring read.

Two further scriptural titles are both compiled from the teachings of Pope Benedict at the “school of prayer” he conducted in his weekly audiences in St Peter’s square: these hardly need any recommendation from the likes of me. The titles are Prayer in The Acts of the Apostles , and Praying the Psalms . Also from Pope Benedict is an essential title I have already written about so I will say no more here,The Encyclicals of Benedict XVI. Finally, an extremely significant collection of the pope’s various utterances on the right interpretation (“hermeneutic”) of the Second Vatican Council: Pope Benedict on Vatican II. The contents of this booklet can only be described by using that overused but here entirely appropriate word, “indispensable”.

I said I would say something about most of the titles, but I am coming to the end of my space and it cannot be much. World Youth Day: Inspiring Generations will deservedly sell well as the day approaches; it is freshly and informatively written, and it makes me makes me wish I were young enough to go myself. Very different,Saints of the Roman Canon by Julien Chilcott-Monk, is a soundly written basic hagiography for those not sure who Linus and Cletus were when their names pop up in the First Eucharistic Prayer.

Faith in the Family: a Handbook for Parents, by Anne Burke Gaffney and Fr Marcus Holden (a co-founder of the Evangelium project) is a superbly written guide to just what to tell your children about the faith: about God and the creation, about angels, saints, the seasons of the Church, about prayer, about everything; I wish I had had it when I was bringing up my own children. But I learned and rediscovered a lot myself: like many books written for children, this one has its fascination for adults, too.

Finally, two indispensable booklets designed to familiarise us with the life and thought of our new pope:Pope Francis by Fr Dushan Croos, a fellow Jesuit; and First addresses of Pope Francis , his public utterances since his election. This one doesn’t contain the text of any of his sometimes inspired little off the cuff addresses at his daily Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta: might a selection of those be an idea for a future CTS booklet?

For, still they come; the CTS is endlessly productive, endlessly creative; as much a cornucopia as a publishing company. And it doesn’t happen ex nihilo. The one name you will never find, even in small type, in the society’s publications is that of its CEO, Fergal Martin, who in the words of the Maryvale Institute’s website “directs the Society with dynamic vision”; they know all about that from the CTS’s collaboration with Maryvale in publishing Echoes, the parish-based resource for handing on the faith, now used in several English-speaking countries—and from their collaboration with the CTS in much else besides. English Catholics owe Fergal Martin a debt of gratitude. I myself came across his “dynamic vision” when, with the Catholic Herald, he was publishing a book, John Paul the Great, I edited some years ago. His faithful and inspired labours go largely unsung; I therefore end by singing them here.

  • Benedict Carter

    The publications of the Catholic Truth Society are a very pale shadow of what they once were. Michael Davies showed unequivocally that in the wake of the Council its personnel and publications went into Modernist mode (of course) and he gave examples of how some publications actually contained straight-forward heresies.

    One can find pre-Council Catholic Truth Society publications online in pdf format and I strongly recommend readers to limit themselves to those.

  • Simon Finaldi (CTS Marketing)

    Dear Mr Oddie,

    Thanks for you wonderful article. However, the link to CTS actually links to Ignatius press. Could this be corrected? Again, many thanks for your kind words.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Sorry about that. We hope it’s right now.

  • Richard Brown (CTS)

    Thank you Dr Oddie for your kind words. Do please visit the CTS website: to view the full range of our publications

  • CP

    The CTS is fantastic, a real power-house of publications that really do help people to live out their faith, in a quiet, up-to-date and dependable way. You can always rely on CTS to be faithful to Church teaching.

  • James Callender

    “he gave examples of how some publications actually contained straight-forward heresies.”
    Examples please?
    Thank you for the exhortation but I suppose other commentators on here will have their own views on the CTS.

  • Peter

    lol how much did they pay you?

  • Benedict Carter

    I am sure Mr Davies’ estate would be happy for you to buy the relevant book and just for once find out for yourself. They are all on Amazon.

    Others are quite free to express their views I expect.

  • James Callender

    hahaha nice one Peter.

  • WG Grace

    Old CTS booklets can be found here:

    and a large selection can be found here (scroll down the page; all files are pdfs and can be downloaded):

    A huge number are here:

    All the above are pre-Vatican II and therefore untainted.

  • PaulF

    No disrespect William, but if they were publishing my work I would be singing their praises too.

  • James Callender

    “All the above are pre-Vatican II and therefore untainted.”
    Untainted? What planet are you on?

  • William Oddie

    You think, if I am not mistaken, that Pope John Paul, of all people, was a heretic: you have even expressed similar views about Pope Benedict, I think; I make no comment: but most of my readers will take note and ignore anything you have to say, unless you correct me: I am always open to correction.

  • Benedict Carter

    You are mistaken. A link to where you think I have said this would be appreciated. If you cannot provide it, then an apology would be swiftly accepted.

    The theology of both men was at times strange, we can say. And it’s far from being only me who thinks so. That’s a long way from your accusation though.

  • William Oddie

    About Pope John Paul? Be careful, your words are on the record.

  • Benedict Carter

    No less a man than Romano Amerio, described by some as one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century, said that after exhaustive study he could not see how at least one of JP II’s Encyclicals could be reconciled with Catholic Tradition.

    So yes, some of JP II’s theology can certainly be questioned as well as some of his dramatic actions (kissing a Koran, Assisi meetings, etc).

    But if you can link to a post of mine where I have said that JP II was a heretic, I shall retract. If you cannot, then an apology from you is in order.

    “Not to oppose error is to approve it, and not to defend the truth is to suppress it” – Pope St. Felix III

  • Andrew Young

    CTS have just published 30,000 ‘Simple Catholic Prayer Books’ for members of the Armed Forces which have been very graciously paid for by the Knights of St Columba. This extraordinary gesture by the Knights, in concert with CTS, has ensured that the old 1970′s blue vinyl covered ‘Simple Prayer Book’ can now be replaced throughout the Military Ordinariate in all of our Naval Stations, Regiments, RAF Stations and Marine units. Thank you to CTS for producing such an attractive and much welcomed prayer book for the Armed Forces of the 21st century.

  • william oddie

    You have just said it. A heresy is (OED) ” a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine”. That fact that you didn’t use the word doesn’t mean you didn’t make the accusation. You have just done it again.

  • $27740841

    Sorry to interrupt, but below is a link to a series of quotes in which Pope John Paul II puts forward the concept of ‘Universal Salvation’.
    To my knowledge, ‘Universal Salvation’ is not the teaching of the Church. Can you explain this Dr Oddie, or can anyone else for that matter?
    Sorry, but questions have been raised about Pope John Paul’s theology before, and elsewhere. Catholics have the right, even the duty to do this. Such questions are not even close to accusations of heresy, whether of material heresy or formal heresy.

  • $40858710

    If Mr. Oddie will forgive me… (Mr. Carter, my sympathies
    in this debate lie entirely with you. I lack the rhetorical clout to

    A certain cricketer seems to have beaten me by some hours to dig up some Catholic books. Mr. Davies writes an excellent, clear, lucid defence of Holy Tradition against the detestable Conciliar Changes, the evil Liturgical Movement and the insidious Modernism that inspired them.

    @ Mr. Carter – you are quite right. I am a very young man
    and was not born at the time of the deplorable Council but I continue to be gravely saddened at the subversion and destruction of everything in Britain – even in the bulwark of Holy Church – by Modernism and the Modern Age. The destruction of so much beauty and splendour and piety, the abandonment of Our Lady and the Saints. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is described as an ‘assembly’ or a ‘social meal’ where the Consecration is performed by, heaven help us, ‘the People of God’. Utter deplorable rubbish. A gang of detestable German and Belgian and French ticket inspector’s sons at the Council – Balthasar, Lubac, Rahner – dictated to the Princes of the Church.

    The changes are gravely lamentable and a bitter, bitter trial for us all. As Evelyn Waugh put it [ to the editor: please forgive and feel free to omit the expletive]:

    “the b—–ing up of the Church is a deep sorrow to me… We write letters to the paper. A fat lot of good that does.”

    John Pearson also described this:

    “Much water has flown under the Tiber’s bridges,” wrote Alec Guinness in his autobiography, “carrying away splendour and mystery from Rome, since the Pontificate of Pius XII.” Writing in the mid-eighties, Guinness lamented the “banality and vulgarity of the translations which have ousted the sonorous Latin and little Greek” from the liturgy and regretted that “[h]andshaking and embarrassed smiles or smirks have replaced the older
    courtesies.” Although dismayed by the nature of the liturgical changes, Guinness was sure that the Church would recover from such nonsense, “so long as the God who is worshipped is the God of all ages, past and to come, and not the Idol of Modernity, so venerated by some of our bishops, priests and mini-skirted nuns.”

    I can only assist at the Traditional Mass very rarely, as in
    the Scottish Highlands the Transalpine Redemptorists are two ferry trips away, the nearest chapel of the Fraternity of St. Peter is in Edinburgh and the chance of an Indult Mass is, I fear, pretty much negligible.

  • Benedict Carter

    Thanks Awkward. Your reply to Dr. Oddie says it for me.

    I wonder when the Catholic Herald and Dr. Oddie are going to investigate and report on the dissident group ACTA which seeks to overthrow Catholic moral teaching and introduce another version of “nu-Church”, this time a fully bottom-up Hans Kung proddie version? Benedictine and Franciscan religious are involved, as well as parish clergy and laity.

    ACTA might be a better target than me. With regard to them, the word “heretic” can rightly be used.

  • Benedict Carter

    Thank you very kindly Patrick. When you are on Papa Stronsay next time, remember me please to Father Michael Mary.

  • $27740841

    I looked ACTA’s website for as long as I could bear to, after your mention. The usual drivel.

  • Scyptical Chymist

    As I noted on another blog comment the CTS “A Simple Prayer Book” should be in the hands of every Catholic. It can be bought for less than 2 pounds and contains the latest Mass liturgy, but best of all, one can find all those prayers that we older folks learnt as children but which have now been overlooked in post Vatican 2 times. The prayer I mentioned in another post was Pope Leo’s prayer to St Michael which was once said after Mass but now in these perilous times when anti-Christian government suggests a grave need, is never heard from our clergy. It is here along with many others. Even if you have Missals and other books on liturgy this is so useful on a daily basis (and easy to carry) that there is no excuse not to get one.

    I note Andrew Young’s post here concerning the KSC’s gift of 30,000 of these to our armed forces – a fantastic idea. Congratulations KSC.

  • Cestius

    There really are some excellent books in the series. I particularly like the ones about science, creation and religion – they are written to a quality and a degree of scholarship that knocks Richard Dawkins into a cocked hat, and yet are written very plainly and easy for the layman to understand.

  • Guest

    In a footnote on p.435 of Pope Paul’s New Mass (1980), referring to a 1979 pamphlet entitled “Communion Under Both Kinds”, Davies writes:
    “An excellent pamphlet by Father Sydney Smith, S.J., entitled ‘Communion Under One Kind,’ has gone down the ‘memory hole’ in the best tradition of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The CTS must be one of the world’s most Orwellian institutions at present, engaged in a ceaseless process of withdrawing pamphlets stating the teaching of the Church and replacing them with pamphlets stating the opposite – and claiming that this now constitutes the teaching of the Church.”

    I have no personal brief against the CTS, past or present. I just remembered Davies’ comments.

  • Benedict Carter

    I rest my case, m’lud.

    I don’t make claims like this out of thin air.

  • PaulF

    William, if you want to keep your faith pure and powerful in the only true Lord you absolutely must take a critical view of certain of the teachings of V2, those that speak of the non Judaeo Christian religions. No need to throw accusations around, because those other religions are no part of the Church’s proclamation and should not even be mentioned by pastors except where it is necessary to warn against them.

  • average wester

    LOL, yes very nice :-)

  • average wester


  • average wester

    I thinks what he means is the old books taught our Faith the way it always was before some different modern views come in.

  • Guest

    ‘The way it always was’ so never any developments on understanding or dealing with new infomation really!?!

  • ConfusedCatholic

    Guest, what new information? Have there been developments in doctrine since 1962? If so, I would like to know what they are.

  • scary goat

    JC, do you actually read posts before you reply to them, or just support on the basis of personal like/dislike?

  • scary goat

    I think there might be a bit of a distinction between calling someone a heretic and saying that a certain view a person has on a certain subject is (or may be) in error. Yes, heresy means error….which isn’t a swear word, is it? Any of us can have a misunderstanding of something at some point….and we should have our error corrected..but when you actually call someone a heretic it sort of has connotations of “deliberate and obstinate” error….in that sense it has a demeaning connotation. As I understand it, not every word a pope speaks nor his every action are infallible. Popes can make mistakes can’t they?

    I mean, for example, knowing Muslim beliefs and the contents of the Quran, I would say it was a very bad idea for a pope to be kissing the Quran. It contains many heresies and kissing a book is seen as a sign of respect. It gives a seriously disconcerting impression for a pope to kiss the Quran. Seriously, that should not have happened.

    Am I accusing the Pope of being a heretic by saying so? No, of course not. I am objecting to one specific action which I feel was very inappropriate.

  • Hermit Crab

    Your remark: “A gang of detestable German and Belgian and French ticket inspector’s sons at the Council – Balthasar, Lubac, Rahner – dictated to the Princes of the Church….”, is very amusing, and I am surprised that it comes from a “very young man… not born at the time of the deplorable Council.” May I ask how old you are for so wise a youngster?

  • Benedict Carter

    The Church has its own definition of heresy. I hardly think we need the OED.

  • cestusdei

    Basically you are playing games and skirting carefully around the truth. My experience with folks like yourself is that you try to say that Blessed John Paul was a heretic without actually saying it. In a way you are much like the dissenters you decry. Parsing your words to avoid problems. Trying to nail you down and ask “do you accept the Second Vatican Council or the Ordinary Form of the Mass” is like nailing jello to the wall. If you mean something just come out and say it.

    I have found nothing in CTS publications that is heretical. Granted I haven’t read them all, but the ones that I have are extremely good. But then again I actually accept Vatican II. Btw, I am not a “modernist” either. Most consider me very “conservative.”

  • Benedict Carter


    It is rather more serious than “playing games”.

    A Great Wall exists between Traditionalists and modern ‘Catholics’.

    We understand you, but you can have no understanding of us. Not your fault – you have been put through the Great Year Zero. For you, anything to do with the Church before it is like the map of Africa in the mid-19th century. Blank space.

    Read CTS pamphlets from before the Council.
    Read CTS pamphlets from the late 1960′s onwards.

    If you cannot see a difference, you are not being honest.

    One reflects the untainted Catholic Faith. The other reflects all the formlessness, refusal to be specific or concrete, of the Vatican II-ized Modernist Church.

    I am sure there still are some excellent materials published now. But I will teach my children the Faith using materials that are not suspect.

    As to your other assertions re V II and the Mass, they have been answered many times already.

    PS What’s ‘jello’?
    PPS God save us from “conservative” Catholics.

  • William Oddie

    I have had books published by eight different publishers. I have been heard “singing the praises” of only three: Ignatius, the OUP and CTS.

  • PaulF

    A sincere congratulations. I have to be satisfied with Amazon KDP, which is not bad, at least one’s work sees the light of day.

  • James Callender

    Well said William, but bear in mind these people have an axe to grind and want to smear anyone they can with false claims.

  • Guest

    Dear James,

    This will be my very last communication with you.

    You have called me a liar (your post was deleted by the moderators), but you have not apologised, despite having been proved wrong.

    You have now called me a hypocrite – quite for what I cannot imagine as you know nothing about me.

    You have nothing whatever to say. Therefore I have nothing further to say to you.

  • Sue Sims

    I don’t suppose that this will bring peace between Messrs Carter and Oddie, but I’d say that both are correct to some extent. I have been collecting (in a desultory way) CTS pamphlets from all periods, and there’s no doubt that during for a period – mostly from the 1970s to around the turn of the century – the booklets were affected by the SpiritofVaticanTwo. This dramatically changed a few years back, when the CTS was taken over by a new group of young, highly orthodox men who proceded to give the publications a face lift both physically – with much more attractive and engaging designs – and theologically. Michael Davis was quite right in his criticisms, but they don’t apply now, Deo gratias.

  • scary goat

    Well….if you re-read the comment near the top of this thread by CP and the comment from “Peter” underneath which you seem to have liked very much, didn’t you notice that the comment was rather out of character for Peter? :-D

  • Benedict Carter

    Your apology, Dr. Oddie?