Dr. Christopher Kaczor
is a professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University and the author of several books, including The
Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life, and the Question of
Justice; Thomas Aquinas on the Cardinal Virtues; Life Issues - Medical
; and How to Stay Catholic in College
. His most recent book is The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction about Catholicism
(Ignatius Press). He spoke recently with Catholic World Report
about his reasons for writing the book, the challenge of communicating
what the Catholic Church really teaches, and which myths about the
Church are most difficult to address and dispel.
What is the primary audience for your book? Both Catholics and non-Catholics?
Dr. Christopher Kaczor:
It is for both Catholics and non-Catholics, ideally. But, more
realistically, active Catholics would get and read the book in order to
have better conversations and discussions with non-Catholics, especially
people who are very secular. There are many myths about the Catholic
Church that come from Protestant-Catholic debates, but my book is
focused on secularists and non-Catholics who do not hold religious
views, but who do, for example, adhere to myths about the Catholic
Church that come from the media and Hollywood, among other sources.
What are some of the key reasons people are so misinformed about the Catholic Church?
One of the main reasons is that the mainstream mediathrough
television, radio, movies, the internetmisrepresents the Church on the
key issues. Take movies, for instance: priests are constantly presented
and portrayed in a stereotypical way, especially as drunks or molesters
or hypocrites. This informs the imagination and views of people. Another
huge factor is that Catholic generally do a poor job of explaining the
the history, beliefs, and practices of the Catholic Church. Catholics
are apologetic in the wrong way, sometimes even saying, "Yeah, we're
behind the times, but we'll eventually catch up!" So Catholics
contribute to the malaise and misinformation when hey do not stand up
for the Faith and state the truth. They need to be firm in what they
believe, but they first need to know what they believe, and why.
How did you select these seven myths?
My process of selection was not necessarily scientific, but neither was
it random. I've been teaching since 1997, and have often asked myself,
"What are the issues that my students are struggling with and wrestling
with the most?" It also comes from my experiences of talking with many
other people over the past twenty years. All of these myths involved key
issues that people really wrestle with; I chose the ones that think are
the most malicious and the most widespread when it comes to the
What myth is most deeply ingrained in the dominant culture?
That's hard to say. Myth #7 might be one ["Priestly Celibacy Caused the
Crisis of Sexual Abuse of Minors: The Myth of Priestly Pedophilia"].
Lots of people hold that view, and it is very damaging. People rightly
expect priests to be holy and upright, and so when a priest is found to
have committed abuse, it discredits the priesthood for many people. But
what most of these people don't realize is that children are more likely
to be molested by a school teacher or a coach than a priest. That's the
reality. But people won't stop sending their kids to school or having
them in sports programs. However, they will stop going to Church and
they will reject Catholicism because a bad priest committed a malicious
act. This is particularly bad because it removes them from the life of
the Church and undermines, or ends, their participation in the Church.
of the issue here is that teachers and coaches are so deeply trusted
that many people cannot face up to the evidence, and so we don't see a
movement to reform the teaching profession or the football coaching
profession. Yet, again, teachers and coaches are more likely to abuse
kids than a priest, as studies show and my book demonstrates. And when
we look at the horrible situation with [former Penn State coach] Jerry
Sandusky, we see that being married does not magically cure the problem.
Which of these myths is most difficult to address? Does that depend on the situation and people involved?
I think it does depend on the situation. Perhaps # 4 ["Indifferent to
Love, the Church Banned Contraception: The Myth of Opposition between
Love and Procreation"] because addressing contraception requires knowing
that procreation is a good thing, but that takes a lot of time and
background information about sexuality, marriage, and so forth. The same
is true when it comes to defending marriage and addressing "same-sex
marriage": a quick sound bit doesn't work easily. It really does require
time and effort.
For more about The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church
, visit the book's website