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What the Church has given the world

From astronomy to philosophy Catholics have made an extraordinary contribution to western civilisation, says Fr Andrew Pinsent

By on Friday, 6 May 2011

Physicist Stephen Hawking meets Benedict XVI during an audience for scientists at the Vatican (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, HO)

Physicist Stephen Hawking meets Benedict XVI during an audience for scientists at the Vatican (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, HO)

Introduction

At a recent debate, broadcast worldwide by the BBC, over 87 per cent of the audience rejected the notion that the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world. Although the defenders of the Church were confronted by two masters of rhetoric, there is little doubt that the vote reflected a shift in attitudes towards Christianity in general and the Catholic faith in particular. To put this shift in blunt terms, whereas we were regarded recently as nice but naïve, today we are increasingly regarded as evil. As a result, teaching the faith and defending Christian ethics has become much more difficult.

To address this challenge at its root, I believe it is vital that we remind ourselves of the extent to which the Catholic faith is a force for good in the world. Jesus said: “You will know them by their fruits,” and even some outside the Church appreciate her fruitfulness. In 2007, for example, an atheist businessman, Robert Wilson, gave $22.5 million (£13.5 million) to Catholic education in New York, arguing that, “without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no western civilisation.”

Inspired by Wilson’s insight, I have been working recently with Fr Marcus Holden, parish priest of Ramsgate and a tutor at Maryvale, to collate the extraordinary contributions of Catholic culture and Catholic minds. The following sections provide some samples of this work, which should be invaluable to anyone who is faced with the question: “What has the Church ever done for us?”

For a more complete account of the fruitfulness of the Catholic faith in these and many other fields, see Lumen: The Catholic Gift to Civilisation, published January 2011 by the Catholic Truth Society.

Fr Andrew Pinsent is a priest of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton and Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University. He was formerly a particle physicist at CERN. He is co-founder, with Fr Marcus Holden, of the Evangelium Project, which is dedicated to improving the quality of Catholic education. See www.evangelium.co.uk.

1. Light and the cosmos

The Opus Maius (1267) of the Franciscan Roger Bacon (d 1292), written at the request of Pope Clement IV, largely initiated the tradition of optics in the Latin world. The first spectacles were invented in Italy around 1300, an application of lenses that developed later into telescopes and microscopes.

While many people think of Galileo (d 1642) being persecuted, they tend to forget the peculiar circumstances of these events, or the fact that he died in his bed and his daughter became a nun.

The Gregorian Calendar (1582), now used worldwide, is a fruit of work by Catholic astronomers, as is the development of astrophysics by the spectroscopy of Fr Angelo Secchi (d 1878).

Most remarkably, the most important theory of modern cosmology, the Big Bang, was invented by a Catholic priest, Fr Georges Lemaître (d 1966, pictured), a historical fact that is almost never mentioned by the BBC or in popular science books.

2. Earth and nature

Catholic civilisation has made a remarkable contribution to the scientific investigation and mapping of the earth, producing great explorers such as Marco Polo (d 1324), Prince Henry the Navigator (d 1460), Bartolomeu Dias (d 1500), Christopher Columbus (d 1506) and Ferdinand Magellan
(d 1521). Far from believing that the world was flat (a black legend invented in the 19th century), the Catholic world produced the first modern scientific map: Diogo Ribeiro’s Padrón Real (1527). Fr Nicolas Steno (d 1686) was the founder of stratigraphy, the interpretation of rock strata which is one of the principles of geology.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (d 1829), a French Catholic, developed the first theory of evolution, including the notion of the transmutation of species and a genealogical tree. The Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel (d 1884, pictured) founded the science of genetics based on the meticulous study of the inherited characteristics of some 29,000 pea plants.

3. Philosophy and theology

Catholicism regards philosophy as intrinsically good and was largely responsible for founding theology, the application of reason to what has been revealed supernaturally. Great Catholic philosophers include St Augustine (d 430), St Thomas Aquinas (d 1274), St Anselm (d 1109), Blessed Duns Scotus (d 1308), Suárez (d 1617) and Blaise Pascal (d 1662). Recent figures include St Edith Stein (d 1942, pictured), Elizabeth Anscombe (d 2001) and Alasdair MacIntyre. On the basis that God is a God of reason and love, Catholics have defended the irreducibility of the human person to matter, the principle that created beings can be genuine causes of their own actions, free will, the role of the virtues in happiness, objective good and evil, natural law and the principle of non-contradiction. These principles have had an incalculable influence on intellectual life and culture.

4. Education and the university system

Perhaps the greatest single contribution to education to emerge from Catholic civilisation was the development of the university system. Early Catholic universities include Bologna (1088); Paris (c 1150); Oxford (1167, pictured); Salerno (1173); Vicenza (1204); Cambridge (1209); Salamanca (1218-1219); Padua (1222); Naples (1224) and Vercelli (1228). By the middle of the 15th-century (more than 70 years before the Reformation), there were over 50 universities in Europe.

Many of these universities, such as Oxford, still show signs of their Catholic foundation, such as quadrangles modelled on monastic cloisters, gothic architecture and numerous chapels. Starting from the sixth-century Catholic Europe also developed what were later called grammar schools and, in the 15th century, produced the movable type printing press system, with incalculable benefits for education. Today, it has been estimated that Church schools educate more than 50 million students worldwide.

5. Art and architecture

Faith in the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh and the Sacrifice of the Mass have been the founding principles of extraordinary Catholic contributions to art and architecture. These contributions include: the great basilicas of ancient Rome; the work of Giotto (d 1337), who initiated a realism in painting the Franciscan Stations of the Cross, which helped to inspire three-dimensional art and drama; the invention of one-point linear perspective by Brunelleschi (d 1446) and the great works of the High Renaissance. The latter include the works of Blessed Fra Angelico (d 1455), today the patron saint of art, and the unrivalled work of Leonardo da Vinci (d 1519), Raphael (d 1520), Caravaggio (d 1610, pictured), Michelangelo (d 1564) and Bernini (d 1680). Many of the works of these artists, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling, are considered among the greatest works of art of all time. Catholic civilisation also founded entire genres, such as Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, High Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Cristo Redentor statue in Brazil and the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona show that the faith continues to be an inspiration for highly original art and architecture.

6. Law and jurisprudence

The reforms of Pope Gregory VII (d 1085, pictured) gave impetus to forming the laws of the Church and states of Europe. The subsequent application of philosophy to law, together with the great works of monks like the 12th-century Gratian, produced the first complete, systematic bodies of law, in which all parts are viewed as interacting to form a whole. This revolution also led to the founding of law schools, starting in Bologna (1088), from which the legal profession emerged, and concepts such as “corporate personality”, the legal basis of a wide range of bodies today such as universities, corporations and trust funds. Legal principles such as “good faith”, reciprocity of rights, equality before the law, international law, trial by jury, habeas corpus and the obligation to prove an offence beyond a reasonable doubt are all fruits of Catholic civilisation and jurisprudence.

7. Language

The centrality of Greek and Latin to Catholicism has greatly facilitated popular literacy, since true alphabets are far easier to learn than the symbols of logographic languages, such as Chinese. Spread by Catholic missions and exploration, the Latin alphabet is now the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. Catholics also developed the Armenian, Georgian and Cyrillic alphabets and standard scripts, such as Carolingian minuscule from the ninth to 12th centuries, and Gothic miniscule (from the 12th). Catholicism also provided the cultural framework for the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), the Cantar de Mio Cid (“The Song of my Lord”) and La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland), vernacular works that greatly influenced the development of Italian, Spanish and French respectively. The Catholic Hymn of Cædmon in the seventh century is arguably the oldest extant text of Old English. Valentin Haüy (d 1822), brother of the Abbé Haüy (the priest who invented crystallography), founded the first school for the blind. The most famous student of this school, Louis Braille (d 1852), developed the worldwide system of writing for the blind that today bears his name.

8. Music

Catholic civilisation virtually invented the western musical tradition, drawing on Jewish antecedents in early liturgical music. Monophonic Gregorian chant developed from the sixth century. Methods for recording chant led to the invention of musical notion (staff notation), of incalculable benefit for the recording of music, and the ut-re-mi (“do-re-mi”) mnemonic device of Guido of Arezzo (d 1003). From the 10th century cathedral schools developed polyphonic music, extended later to as many as 40 voices (Tallis, Spem in Alium) and even 60 voices (Striggio, Missa Sopra Ecco).

Musical genres that largely or wholly originated with Catholic civilisation include the hymn, the oratorio and the opera. Haydn (d 1809), a devout Catholic, strongly shaped the development of the symphony and string quartet. Church patronage and liturgical forms shaped many works by Monteverdi (d 1643), Vivaldi (d 1741), Mozart (d 1791, pictured) and Beethoven (d 1827). The great Symphony No 8 of Mahler (d 1911) takes as its principal theme the ancient hymn of Pentecost, Veni creator spiritus.

9. The status of women

Contrary to popular prejudice, extraordinary and influential women have been one of the hallmarks of Catholic civilisation. The faith has honoured many women saints, including recent Doctors of the Church, and nurtured great nuns, such as St Hilda (d 680, pictured) (after whom St Hilda’s College, Oxford, is named) and Blessed Hildegard von Bingen (d 1179), abbess and polymath. Pioneering Catholic women in political life include Empress Matilda (d 1167), Eleanor of Aquitaine (d 1204) and the first Queen of England, Mary Tudor (d 1558).

Catholic civilisation also produced many of the first women scientists and professors: Trotula of Salerno in the 11th century, Dorotea Bucca (d 1436), who held a chair in medicine at the University of Bologna, Elena Lucrezia Piscopia (d 1684), the first woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree (1678) and Maria Agnesi (d 1799), the first woman to become professor of mathematics, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XIV as early as 1750.

  • Snapadmin

    It’s sad that Fr. Pinsent can’t even bring himself to acknowledge, in even
    one sentence, the church’s horrific and on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up
    crisis.

    David
    Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,
    (7234
    Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell
    (SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

  • http://profiles.google.com/lonestarworms jeff thompson

    wow the article was not even disc. the abuse scandal and well … of course you got to bring it up … Are you hounding teachers and baptist ministers etc in all thier articles as well, no matter if it has anything to do with the topic ?

  • Jjausti

    Every priest has to acknowledge the failure of the minority among them in every article they write? Every conversation? Every homily?

    The topic of the article was about the good that the Roman Catholic Church has done for the world, the debunking of common misconceptions and a plug for where you can learn more then just a brief summary.

    Making a reference to sexual abuse would not be within the tone of this specific article. I am sure that Fr. Pinsent, and every good Christian, abhor the misuse of trust and fall into serous sin of those priests, as they would abhor the misuse of trust and fall into serious sin of any individual.

    Have your plug David. Let’s try to be part of the solution (sowing peace) and not part of the problem (disunity).

    Thanks for the article and link Father.

  • Construction Engr

    Proud to be Catholic. If they only know. Thank you Lord. We cannot judge the faith on the shortcomings of some. If we take into consideration the authenticity of the faith, the Christian faith is the best!

  • Anonymous

    What the church has given us ! What ..it was Jesus Christ who ordained our church,it is/can be rejected but that is the result of original sin.Its given but can/is rejected,for faith is a gift from God.The Roman Catholic Church is the one and only truth,guided by the Holy Ghost..God the Father..God the Son…and God the Holy Ghost

  • ForGodandCountry

    @e072ac71e6924244d34fd57afc4d6730:disqus wasn’t one of snaps psychiatrists just arrested for having child pornography on his computer? Hmmm someone must have a plank in their eye…http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2705206/posts

  • Reality, Reason and Logic

    Given?

    Yes, the funding was “given” for many of these efforts and discoveries, but on the backs of poor, scared, and people under hardship. The people that “gave” or were forced to give a percentage of the their income for the idea and safety of redemption. Shameful. Imagine the church didn’t fund any of these projects… imagine! The people that were passionate about discovery, pursuing a life with purpose: Galileo, Polo, Pascal, da Vinci, Braille, Guido of Arezzo, Mozart, and all the women that are still seen as second citizens… they would have found a way to do this without a need of the church. It’s ridiculous to propose that the church has given us anything. The church provided an easy resource or forced way for purposeful people to do something great, to explore and in doing so prove to the world that many of the ideas that the church had held as truths, were in fact false. Science, reason, music, exploration… are all contradictory to what the church held at the times that these important pieces of science, art, and personal triumph proved.

    Would da Vinci’s art still have been as beautiful without the support of the church tax… would Galileo have developed his theories and equipment without having to be held captive by the church state, and silenced… would Braille have developed his system without the church? Yes, they all would have, because they had a passionate purpose to do what they love. The church may have greased the wheels on the back of oppressed people, but to claim that the church has “given” this to humanity… ridiculous.

    A child is born on an island where there is no religion. Her parents pass. The child survives to grow and discover those things that help her survive. She discovers that she can use the residue of beans to paint on the walls of her shelter… beautiful pictures… pictures that represent her experience, goals, and desires. Does the church lay claim to these? (I know what the answer will be according to this lot, but we can’t include magic in this… David Copperfield wasn’t on the island to inspire her.)

    Really?

  • Parasum

    “Jesus said: “You will know them by their fruits,” and even some outside the Church appreciate her fruitfulness.”

    The trouble is, that this is impossible to apply in practice. Catholicism has also:

    oppressed the Jews

    fuelled hatred of them so that the Shoah was possible
    – the Church is complicit, and there is no way this can be avoided

    enslaved certain foreign peoples

    treated religious dissidents with great cruelty

    approved & used torture

    No account of the Church’s contribution to the history of the last 2,000 years that attempts to be truthful

    can possibly overlook the evil that those in authority have winked at, tolerated, been complicit in, or commanded. Some Catholics may want to overlook these things, but many who hate everything the Church stands for are all too familar with at least some of the evil the Church has permitted or encouraged.

    The Church does not seem to be very good at self-criticism. If the Church is Divine, knowing and admitting the worst about herself can do her nothing but good, because even her worst crimes cannot blot out Giod’s faithfulness to her. Only a merely human Church need be afraid to admit the worst about herself.

  • addison

    The Catholic Church has not given us anything good. What can come of fellowship of Beelzebub and our Lord? Come on. The RCC has murdered millions. Why do you think it sits on the seven-headed beast? I’ll tell you why. Because the Whore makes all the other seven anti-Semetic kingdoms look pro-Israel, righteous, and just in everything they do compared to herself. In Yeshua’s name, may the Lord open the RCC’s ears that they may hear. AMEN

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Clohessy,
    At one time I held you in great esteem because of your work to expose sexual abuse in the church in order to protect children. I am grateful for your efforts.However, your credibility has been damaged due to the extreme nature of your tactics. You would be more effective if you could appreciate the areas where the church has truly contributed to the good of society, while acknowledging her failures.The church is still needed to help feed the hungry, educate the ignorant and work for peaceful resolutions in areas devastated by war.Please continue to be vigilant in protecting children, but do so with truth and charity…or I fear that the church will not be able to do the work that she is obliged to do for society, and the children that you have been called to serve will suffer in the end.Peace and blessings.

  • AJ

    The press owned by liberal- hollywood honchos is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage or the entire police force for the rotten few.

    Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church , 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harrassed. Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy (found quilty of pedophilia) 5% pending cases subject to a trial while 10% of the Protestant Ministers have been found quilty and the BIGGEST OF ALL, GUESS WHO? U.S. school system were found to be in “staggering numbers” by the Fact Finding Commission – about 3 abuses per school day alone!

    To them well heck just forget about the great majority of the priests 95% rendering services for the good of the community almost free of charge sometimes even killed in some forsaken land….taking care of the poor, destitute, abandoned people nobody seem to want, defending life, education-invented the Universities, health care, community services and so many more. Aside from the fact that the Catholic Church is the biggest, largest charitable institution in the world, only SECOND TO NONE. A FACT!

  • DBMcGinnity

    WHERE IS THE LOGIC?It is easy to find fault and proportion blame, so I will refrain from doing so. In terms of truth, ethics, logic and reason, why are women excluded from priesthood ( I know the stock answer, but what is the reasoned answer?). Why are women considered to be lesser beings by the Catholic Church? If Jesus and Mary have ascended into heaven, body and soul and are still alive; where are they? Why do they not come to earth and help to alleviate human suffering? Why not? Why did Pope Pius XII proclaim such a thing to be an article of faith? If there is such a thing as “The Real Presence” of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, then how is it possible for a catholic priest to celebrate Holy Mass and literally ‘touch’ God in the presence of Jesus Christ, and then go on to rape and abuse children? The statistical incidence and evidence of such incidences in Ireland alone is diabolical i.e. from the devil. What is the reason and logic for the Catholic Church covering up outrageous wickedness?

  • ms catholic state

    Without the Catholic Church there wouldn’t be a Western Civilisation…..certainly NOT as we know it. Jesus Christ is the inspiration of the West…….and you can’t better than that. As He said….without Me you can do nothing. Watch the West dissolve now……and it has abandoned its inspiration.

  • me

    that is all ehar say and ignoring facts. you are skewing facts to make them fit your particular point of view

  • Franton50

    Too bad you don’t mention your own coverup of your abuser priest brother, your kick backs from bottom feeding attorneys – viz Anderson and your Alinsky bully and reputation smearing tactics – all under the cover of “victimization”. Glad that courageous people like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is exposing SNAP’s hypocrisy.

  • Frantom50
  • TW

    For a more complete story – with full references – read “How the Catholic Church Formed Western Civilization” by Thomas E. Wood. Those of you who are denying the validity of the statements in this article are choosing to be stubbornly ignorant. Those who refuse to see the good of the church are choosing to be blindly hateful.

  • Raymond Peringer

    Many of the people who attend these religion-atheist debates are victims of the anti-Catholic mischief of such otherwise respected writers-in-denial as Edward Gibbon, Max Weber, H.G.Wells et al. The present crew of self-appointed experts base their opinions on the errors of the earlier writers. As soon as they speak, they reveal their sources.

    For elaboration of Fr. Pinset’s excellent summary of Catholic benefits to civilization, one should read How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., and The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark.

  • Sam

    Raymond mentions the pernicious influence of Gibbon, Wells, Weber, and company. They are certainly part of the problem, but that 87 per cent is, I believe, from a British audience. It is also important to remember that anti-Catholicism is very deeply ingrained in British culture. The British identity is so fiercely anti-Catholic that one writer could, in all seriousness, declare that Pope Benedict’s mass at Westerminster was the “end of the British empire”. Combine all this with the English cast of mind, which is deeply Empiricist, anti-metaphysical, and anti-transcendental, and you can see what an uphill battle it is in that culture.

  • Sam

    So basically, your entire comeback is to assert without a shred of evidence that all of the historically contingent intellectual, scientific, and cultural achievements of Catholic Europe would have taken place anyway even if none of the cultural, intellectual or institutional facts that sustained them existed. Reality, reason and logic indeed.

  • Anonymous

    The priesthood is not a right, so the equality argument for women, does not hold.

    The validity of a sacrament does not depend on the holiness of the priest. Nobody receives the priest sacramentally. I thank God for this, because none of us are worthy.

    Jesus invited Judas to the Last Supper too. His end was not pretty.

    “What is the reason and logic for the Catholic Church covering up outrageous wickedness?”

    It’s called sin. Chesterton once said “Original sin is the only doctrine that can be proven by reading the newspapers.”

  • Anonymous

    All of the above are true, expect for the Shoah argument. The Catholic church helped saved hundreds of thousands of Jews.

    As for self-criticism. You clearly have not read the writings of the saints.

    St. John Crysotom said “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of priests and Bishops”

    But, even he would have still defended his church, that is a lot bigger than just the people in it.

    Catholicism is living proof that human history is one filled with sin and redemption. That’s it’s the story of Christ.

  • Reality, Reason and Logic

    Well sure Sam. Were these people just ordinary people, did they stay within the rules, or did they push them, drive to achieve the unachievable, did they have a passion for what they love? Do people like this when looking for a means to a way fold their cards, when they are told no? Of course they don’t, they wouldn’t. The church picked them up to pay for this not out of good will, but to control. The church at that time consolidated the intellectuals, those that didn’t abide were left on the side of the road. So yes, it is very much percievable that they could have still done these things without the backing of the church. It would have been much more difficult, but you Sam have forgotten about the power of the human spirit and the drive to achieve something for the purity of achievement alone.

    Also, I could play another card… If I include the foundation of belief that god has a plan for everyone, then indeed these people would still have been able to create and discover, because si it was written out to be for them. Sans the institution.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Their ideas stemmed from Catholicism itself. Catholicism did not have the modern dis-connect between liturgy and life, that it experiences today.

    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, means “As we Worship, so shall we Live.”

    This site might help you understand these issues better

    http://thewayofbeauty.org/articles/

  • Reality, Reason and Logic

    The issue is that the church lays claim to the individual pursuit of dreams and desires. I can accept that the church can mold, help, and influence. But, and the big but is to use the term as the article uses “given.” Is false. That’s all.

  • Anonymous

    I never came across the idea the “church lays claim to the individual pursuit of dreams and desires”

    I think you are reading more than what’s been written.

  • Sharron

    I haven’t read it yet, but Thomas E. Woods has written a book titled ( something like) How the Catholic Church Built Western Civillization. Perhaps there are facts to further your argument

  • Recussant

    So why did none of these things happen anywhere else in the world? You say Mozart would have happened without the Church, so where did he? Nobody outside the Church has produced anything close to Mozart, which rather blows your hypothesis out of the water.

  • Anonymous

    The statistics you give are not equating like for like – we may think it wrong if a member of clergy has an affair or acts inappropriately towards a parishioner, but the forced rape and molestation of children is a different matter altogether.

    It would be best if we could try and compare data on rates in general, rates in Church and rates in schools.

    What really shocked people was not so much the abuse itself – but the cover-ups of abuse and child rape, in an institution entirely based on the improvement of morality.

  • Anonymous

    justice is more important than fixing disunity

  • Anonymous

    a fair point

  • Anonymous

    It cannot be proved either way, but I think it is false to assume that the Church itself ‘owned’ every achievement, as is suggested.

  • Anonymous

    He says what the Church has ‘given’ which implies ownership of those mentioned achievements.

  • Anonymous

    Mozart was brought up as a Catholic, but he gave up his faith and became part of the Freemasons.
    He was inspired by rationalist, enlightenment ideas, and abandoned the Church much to its dislike

  • Anonymous

    Although patrons of the Church, both Mozart and
    Beethoven rejected it. Mozart becoming a Freemason, and Beethoven
    adopting Goethe’s Pantheism.

    The Church has had a profound influence on our history and culture – but we should be wary of suggesting that everything that happened under the rule of the Church can be considered a product of it.

    The ideas of the enlightenment and study of the classical architecture and philosophy could be argued as being equally influential as the Church in some respects.

  • Catholicwithapassion

    To Parasum,
    Certainly Church authorities down the centuries in Europe singled the Jewish people out for unjustifiable mistreatment and effectively ghettoized them. I have problems with your contention that the Church enslaved peoples. Secular empires as represented by Spain or Portugal exploited and enslaved the native peoples of South America during their periods of expansion. Prominent critics arose from within the ranks of the Church such as Bartolomé de las Casas(16th C) who excoriated the brutality of Spanish soldiers towards the local indigenous populations in Central America. Church authorities used extreme methods to root out heresy during dark periods as in the case of Savonarola or Jan Hus, the Bohemian reformer. The Church on numerous occasions during the papacy of the Blessed John Paul 11 issued statements expressing deep regret for the misuse of it’s power towards groups or individuals in past centuries and apologized profusely. This clearly demonstrates that the Catholic Church understands that it’s members have done unjustifiable things in Her name and that we are all in need of Christ the Redeemer.

  • Anonymous

    There’s no actual evidence to prove he did.

  • Anonymous

    The church produced these people of faith. So, many have blamed the church for producing bad people, but, when the opposite is brought up. They were just people who followed their heart it seems.

    Talk about being biased.

  • Recussant

    Mozart never rejected the Church, even as a Mason. That’s why his last works include both Masonic Cantata and Ave Verum Corpus. Beethoven is a more complicated case, but his Missa Solemnis is so fine that anyone claiming to know what he actually believed, apart from how grumpy humanity made him, is talking through their arse.

  • Scott Hodges

    I find some of negative comments to be factually misleading and quite illogical.

    The Church can not claim responsibility for the good acts of some of its adherents, yet it is to blame for the bad acts of some its priests. I guess any Good that Catholics do must just be a miracle…

    The Church has nearly a 2,000 year history, and we find Judas there throughout. However, he is far outweighed by Peter, Paul, Matthew, etc.

    It has been shown through their writings that many of the early Catholic Collegiates were inspired to learn because of their faith. The pursuit of science was taken up in order to better understand God through his creation. It was also taken up by Christians due to their philosophical understanding that God made men stewards of the Earth. In addition, they had faith that God would not put us in charge of a world that we could not understand. This type of understanding created the passionate pursuit of science that would not, could not have, and in fact, did not occur anywhere else, because that type of philosophical understanding did not exist anywhere else. It was the impetus for the science and technology we have today. Catholics may not have invented Science, but it certainly took it and ran with it.

  • DBMcGinnity

    What you have written is facile and says nothing. The Methodist minister (who was once a catholic with a priestly vocation) who lives near me is a very spiritual and holy woman. She works tirelessly for the poor and spends all of her time committed to alleviating suffering. She does not take a salary, but manages on very meagre income. The recent history of child abuse by clerical men negates their suitability to be priests, except in the Sol Invictus or Mithera context of priesthood. Why is such a dedicated woman and holy person be excluded by Catholics from being a priest? She is full of compassion and full of love. Your take on Original Sin in meaningless regardless of what G K Chesterson says; it does not prove a thing. How in the name of God can a little new born baby be sinful? The person who thought up such a thing must have been evil. Roman Catholic theology and brand of philosophy is without depth or meaning and is redundant

  • Anonymous

    You need to understand a religion on it’s terms. You make the assumption, that there is no difference between Catholics and Protestant theology on this issue. Original sin does not mean a baby is sinful.

    If you want to know what we believe and why, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It explains these concepts in detail. Also do not stereotype men in ministry in any church.My Best Wishes To You.

  • DBMcGinnity

    That answer is not good enough. I already know what catholic dogma and the catechism says about why priests must be men and about original sin and baptism. Please answer the question clearly without referring me to another source. What is the logic of Catholic belief in original sin and what difference does baptism make. If Catholics maintain “Catholic Truth” and that they know the truth, then truth must be reasonable and logical. The concept of original sin does not seem reasonable. Please explain the dogma and logic of original sin and why catholic priests must be men in cogent terms without obfuscation and avoidance. My friend Elizabeth, had a vocation to be a catholic priest and wished to celebrate Holy Mass, but was deemed unsuitable; not good enough, and she was rejected by Catholic dogma. Why was this?

  • Nick

    > Imagine the church didn’t fund any of these projects… imagine! The
    people that were passionate about discovery, pursuing a life with
    purpose: Galileo, Polo, Pascal, da Vinci, Braille, Guido of Arezzo,
    Mozart,

    Problems with your “theory”:

    1) Those who attack the Church often blame her for every bad thing that happened in the Middle Ages.

    Your logic, applied consistently, would say “oh, those bad things would have happened anyway. So we cannot blame the Church for nothing.”. Correct? Or do you apply your “logic” unidirectionally?

    2) How do you explain that, out of a dozen competing civilizations, it was Christian Europe that succeeded in economy, art, technology, human rights ?

    > and all the women that are still seen as second citizens

    Except that Christians treated women far better than pagans. To this day, western countries have _far_ better treatment of women than Muslim, Hindus and many other countries.

    > prove to the world that many
    of the ideas that the church had held as truths, were in fact false.

    Can you give us one example of that?

    > Science, reason, music, exploration… are all contradictory to what the
    church held at the times

    WHAT? Any evidence of that?

  • Nick

    In short, you picked your conclusion first – “the Church is useless” and then built a contrived “logic” to support it.

    Why do I have an impression that you are a teenager? Perhaps you have just read Richard Dawkins and, having never seen real literature of philosophy, think you just discovered how the world works (which, according to Richard Dawkins, is “atheists good, religion evil. Period.”).

    In 20 years, with a little maturity, you should be ashamed of your behavior.

  • DBMcGinnity

    It is common in these blogs for some people to be offensively rhetorical when they disagree with another premise. I will not do that. So without being adversarial or confrontational, I would like to ask you what do you mean by Freemason? Let me explain, This statement is comparable to referring to someone as “A Christian” when there are about 150 different Christian denominations and sects to choose from (maybe more). The terms “Christian” and “Freemason” are meaningless unless they are used in the proper context. There is clear documentary evidence that Pope Pius IX was a freemason of the Scottish right. The same applies to John XXIII and Paul VI. They were freemasons. Probably so was John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Since the Catholic Church adopted the “Novus Ordo Seclorum Mass” (New Order Mass of the Ages) and similar tenets of The American Declaration of Independence, it is most likely that all future popes will be freemason. Perhaps you have read about the animosity between Pius IX and King Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy, and the Grand Master of the Orient of Italy. There were problems concerning the ownership of the Papal estates in Northern Italy. In simple terms, the Pope Pius IX thought himself superior in status to the King who was also a Catholic and a freemason. Only then Pius IX did not get the obedience, support or deference he wanted from the Italian government and Italian people did he issue an edict that it was a mortal sin for a catholic to be a freemason. It is common for Catholics to be freemasons. It is even more common for senior Catholics prelates and to be freemasons and it is impossible for any large organisation to operate in this secular world without being freemasons. I would ask bloggers to please check and ascertain what they actually know of freemasonry before passing passive judgements on it’s morality or sinfulness. No doubt someone will be tempted issue a rhetorical, insulting rebuke and tell me that I am wrong. Before doing so, please scrupulously check the topic, then issue a reprimand if you must.

  • ms catholic state

    The ‘ideas’ (as that’s all the were and had no basis in truth) of the ‘Englightenment’ were destuctive insofar as they undermined Christianity…..the foundation of the West.

    We are now reaping the final fruits of the ‘Englightenment’……the collapse destruction and Islamisation of the West!  RIP. 

  • Anonymous

    I can actually never tell how serious you are being. 

  • Memory-of-Forever

    when the liberal atheist media starts mentioning the good of the Catholic Church among all the criticism they do, then we will discuss the evils of the Church in an article TALKING ABOUT THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH….