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The Greatest Force for Good in the World

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The Greatest Force for Good in the World

pope staffIt’s been an issue for me ever since I became a Catholic in the late 80s.

The greatest social and culture-shaping force in the history of the world is Christianity. Nothing else comes even close.

The person who has had the greatest effect on other people and on the societies and cultures in which they live is Jesus Christ. No one else in history comes close.

Yet in 19 years of formal schooling I never heard Christ or Christianity discussed seriously in a public educational setting.

If leaving black Americans out of the textbooks is rightly seen as anti-black — as racism — then isn’t the suppression or omission of Christianity and its influence just as truly anti-religious prejudice?

The fact is that Christianity has played and continues to play a central role in our culture and history. To neglect to report the Christian influence is simply to fail to carry out the major duty of any educational institution, the duty to tell the truth.

Surely among the greatest tragedies of education today is the fact that the average student leaving our schools has no conception of the positive role Christ and Christianity have played in shaping our world.

Those students would never imagine that the Church’s contribution is as extensive and as overwhelmingly positive as it is. A superficial litany tells us that the first high schools and universities, the first hospitals and orphanages were started by the Church.

In our day the Church ranks as the largest charitable organization on the planet bringing relief and comfort to those in need. The Catholic Church is also the single largest health care provider in the world with more than 117,000 health care facilities, 26 per cent of the world’s total.

As Cardinal Donald Wuerl pointed out in a Washington Post editorial last week, “Modern-day music, art, architecture, economics, philosophy and our legal system all have their roots in the Catholic Church. Concepts such as natural rights and social equality, not to mention the idea that government and religion are separate spheres, were developed in Catholic thought.”

In fact, as Mike Aquilina points out in his latest book Yours Is the Church: How Catholicism Shapes the World: “Everything about our modern world we think is good is there because of the Church.”

“The only reason we care about the poor is because Christianity has won. The only reason the rights of women and children are important is because the Church has made them important. The only reason we have science is because the Church taught us how to think.”

“Yours is the Church that built up the best in modern culture,” writes Aquilina. Aquilina’s very readable book is devoted to making the case — so that you will be able to make the case — that the Catholic Church has been a great blessing to our world. – J. Fraser Field

Amen!

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