As I was growing up, I lost my faith in both God and the Church. There are many things that made me lose my faith, among them terrible stories I heard about the Catholic Church’s past.
Most of today’s pagan youth imagine people being burnt at the stake whenever they hear people talk about Catholicism. They are wrong, but it’s not their fault. The Church’s enemies, among them the communists, have spread lies about the history of the Church and the content of the faith.
One thing they never told you, and the mainstream media simply won’t tell you, I assume, is that the Church has given us most of the important and positive things we have in Western societies. In today’s politics, people often mention the necessity of reforming the health care system. “People need better care,” we are told. Nobody, though, talks about the origins of the hospitals. Some people simply assume that hospitals have always existed. Unfortunately, there was not even one in ancient Egypt. There were no hospitals in ancient Greece or in the pagan Roman Empire. There were doctors, of course, but they would treat only the royalty and nobility, and sometimes the soldiers. There was absolutely no care for the poor, and no building where people could go to receive health care.
Things changed when the Catholic monks began to host the ill in their monasteries. The Church was the main entity responsible for the existence of hospitals, and nobody thanks her for that. During the Middle Ages, almost all European cities had their own hospitals.
Something else happened during the Catholic Middle Ages: the arrival of the universities. I bet your liberal history teacher never told you that. There was no intent in antiquity of spreading knowledge to many people. Before Christ, knowledge was a symbol of power. In the Middle Ages, the Church wanted to make sure that knowledge was spread and that more people could have access to the absolute truth. Jesus told us to teach all nations, so let’s do so. The first European universities began in the 11th century. In the 12th century, the archdiocese of Paris created the University of Paris. About a century later, the English founded Oxford and then Cambridge. Dozens of superior institutions were opened before the 16th century.
UNESCO considers the first universities to be the ones created by the Muslims before the 11th century. The Muslims did, in fact, have their institutions opened before the year one thousand, but those institutions never brought about any social results. It’s so true that to this day, most people have never heard of Muslim universities. If we are to speak about true colleges, the ones that really increased the universal knowledge in all fields, like the Universities of Oxford and Paris, then yes, the Catholic Church was their first founder. Why doesn’t the Church receive the credit for that? Great question.
Speaking again about Muslims, we should thank the Church of not allowing Europe to become Muslim. Well before the First Crusade, which started in the 11th century, the Muslim army had already reached France and dominated Spain. The pope decided to react and called for volunteers to fight. Today, as the Catholic faith goes down and paganism is on the rise, Muslims are once again taking control. Yet people blame the Church for the “holy wars.” Try to understand that.
The Church also helped in the creation of the international laws and other things like sacred music, beer (the Catholic monks were the ones to make beer popular in Europe during the Middle Ages), and the beautiful buildings of the cathedrals. In the 19th century, Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII wrote against communism, stating that it represents a big danger for humanity. Nobody listened to the Church, and the Soviet Union was formed. In 1937, two years before the Second World War, Pope Pius XI wrote an encyclical to Germany warning about a pagan authoritarian government. He was referring to Nazism, of course. Once again, they didn’t listen. In 1968, Pope Paul VI wrote, in his controversial encyclical on birth control, Humanae Vitae, that artificial birth control methods were not intended to avoid giving birth to too many children inside the marriage, since we can use natural methods – like the Billings Method – to control the number of children within matrimony. No, the pope said, those artificial methods will only make it much easier for people to have sex before or outside marriage, and that will not only make young men treat women like objects, but will also create a huge family crisis. I don’t need to say that nobody listened to the pope and that today we see the results (huge divorce rate, huge abortion numbers, and so on).
Some people say that we would be better off if the Church did not exist. Is that so?
Iohanan A. Carvalho is a Brazilian writer.