“Why Catholicism Matters” – Review

Last year I raved about a book by Dr. Thomas Woods titled, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. Woods traced the Church’s historical influence in areas like science, art, medicine, social services, education, politics, and more. What impressed me most was the role Catholics played in almost every significant field of progress.

With a similar goal, Bill Donohue’s new book Why Catholicism Matters: How Catholic Virtues Can Reshape Society in the 21st Century (Image, hardcover, 304 pages) shows how this same influence is necessary today.

Donohue, president of the Catholic League, is known for his blunt and often caustic defense of Catholicism.  However this book is much more subdued. Rather than responding to attacks on the Catholic Church, Donohue showcases her good work and healing ideas. The result is much more positive presentation of Catholic values with hardly any polemics.  He also ably avoids triumphalism, which would have been an easy trap considering the subject.

Why Catholicism Matters is framed by the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance—“the right recipe for the makings of a good society.” Donohue argues that the Catholic Church promotes them more fully than any other group and offers many concrete examples. From healthcare and religious freedom to education and social justice, Why Catholicism Matters shows how the Church has put these virtues to practice with positive results, both for individuals and whole societies.

This book-length argument for the Church’s moral and social teaching paints a clear picture: when these virtues are practiced, society flourishes. And when they’re neglected, society crumbles.

At a time when many of the so-called New Atheists treat religion as “the greatest force for evil in the world,” Why Catholicism Matters demonstrates how vital it truly is.