“What has the Church ever done for humanity?”
This intriguing question opens a new book by Mike Aquilina, Yours is the Church: How Catholicism Shapes Our World. If you listen to the news much this question might not seem that odd to you. Coverage of the Church often makes it seem a bit out of touch with society. Sometimes it is reduced to the “strange old uncle” status. (You love him, but you’re a little embarrassed to admit it and you wish he would just quiet down.)
The Church has this stubborn habit of sticking to things like objective truths rather than embracing whatever new theory governs society. It seems so “yesterday.” It’s OK for Sunday mornings, but what about the rest of the week? Embracing Catholicism is not likely to win many popularity contests these days.
If you’ve ever thought of the Church that way then Aquilina’s new book will surprise you—perhaps jolt you into a new way of thinking. His premise is that the Church has always been at the forefront of building civilization. Whatever is good and noble in society has been preserved and advanced by the Church.
Great art and music? Service to the poor and needy? Education and literature? Promotion of world peace and human dignity? The intrinsic and sacred value of life? The Church has promoted all these things and has made great contributions to the societal and individual welfare of the whole world.
I’m thinking about all these things as the bishops of the world meet to inaugurate the Year of Faith. This faith is in a living God, who has revealed himself in Scripture and has shown us a way to live that restores us as individuals and members of society. This faith may seem nebulous, but it is expressed in so many concrete ways that ennoble our world.
In recent years many people’s faith has been shaken by reports of sexual abuse in the Church. I don’t want to minimize this in any way; it has caused terrible wounds to many individuals and to the Church as a whole. But to focus solely on scandal misses so much that is great in the Church, both in the past and as we look ahead.
Yours Is The Church has widened my vision and increased my love and pride for the Catholic Church. It just may surprise you as well.