This paperback paints the Catholic Church in the traditional role as "Holy Mother", addressing some of the key criticisms over the centuries. But readers are left with wondering "What's the real difference between, for example, torturing and executing 100 humans or 1?" The author doesn't quite succeed in white-washing what has occasionally failed miserably as the Body of Christ.
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253 of 268 people found the following review helpful
Great book!Nov. 11 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I saw this title in TAN's fall catalogue and was very eager to read it. I had heard of Diane Moczar's other works ("Islam at the Gates," and "Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know"), so I was well aware of her good reputation. When the book arrived, I was immediately impressed with the cover artwork, which shows the Miracle of Fanjeaux. The cover sets the tone for this entire work, which, like the fire in the picture, repels falsehoods about Church history and doctrine.
While the book is certainly not a dissertation on every lie--nor is it meant to be--it is a succinct and clear, yet scholarly, discussion of the most popular lies told about the Catholic Church. In eight short chapters, Moczar is able to dispel some of the worst, and most pervasive, myths about the Church's past. She discusses the Middle Ages, the Church vs. progress, the Crusades, the Inquisition, Galileo, Church corruption, and the Black Legend.
I especially liked the format she used to discuss each lie. Moczar begins every chapter with a blunt statement of the lie in a single sentence. She then expounds on the lie, in delightful prose, and details the historical "evidence" for the veracity of the myth. Then, in one fell swoop, she launches into her attack of the myth. "All of the above," she writes of the evidence for the lie, "of course, is hogwash" (p. 57). She follows this assertion with hard facts from copious sources, all of which are cited in the Appendix. For example, in her chapter on the Inquisition, she writes, concerning the myth that every person was seriously tortured and cruelly treated, "It turns out that torture was in fact rarely used, and even when it was, it was very limited. In one group of seven thousand accused people who came before the Inquisition in Valencia . . . only two percent were tortured, and for no more than fifteen minutes. Executions were similarly rare. Even the prisons of the Inquisition were a far cry from the dungeons of Inquisition mythology . . . Prisoners who were going to be tried in secular courts would often deliberately do something that would get them transferred to the Inquisition so that they would be better treated in jail" (p. 93-94).
Moczar's appendices are alone worth the price of the book. Appendix A, "How to Answer a Lie," provides practical suggestions for dealing with people who believe and disseminate the lies she has just disproven. Appendix 2 is much more than a bibliography and almost every book listed is now on my must-read list!
I could go on in the praise of this book, but, in sum, I highly recommend Diane Moczar's work for every reader who has any desire to learn more about history. "Seven Lies" is readily accessible to the reader with no historical background, as well as a refreser to Church history scholars. I thoroughly enjoyed this work and am looking forward to reading more by Moczar.
83 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Undermining Lies and Bias Can Be Easy and FunMarch 27 2011
James E. Egolf
- Published on Amazon.com
Diane Moczar wrote a short but knowledgeable book re bias and outright lying re the Catholic History. The book titled SEVEN LIES ABOUT CATHOLIC HISTORY could have been expanded, but Moczar wrote this book for those not familiar with Catholic History and achievements for approximately 2,000 years.
The beginning of the book answered the criticism that somehow Medieval men and women were "awkward minded." Moczar reported that the Medieval men and women created the Gothic Cathdral, great work by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), Father Bacon (1214-1294), etc. An investigation of these men's acheivements could fill "a five foot bookshelf." Moczar effectively attacked the notion the somehow that the Renaissance was a vivid contrast to The Middle Ages. Many "Renaissance" men were actually greatly influenced by Medieval achievements. One should note that historians went through a decrepit monastary that was in existence c. 1140 whereby they found books re mathematics, Greek manuscripts as well works in Hebrew and Arabic. This undermines the notion that Medieval men were igornant of other languages and learning. One must rhetorically ask where did the Renaissance men and women learn Greek, Hebrew, etc. Within the past 50 years, such historians as Homer Haskins, Dom David Knowles, Elenor Duckett, Regine Permoud, etc. have developed books and used sources that have proven that Medieval History was interesting, intellectually stimulating, and freer than biased nonsense will admit.
G. K. Chesteton (1874-1936)wrote the Middle Ages were,"... great growth of new things produced by a living thing...(Renassaince) of old things disvocered in a dead thing..." The Renaissance supposedly had an interest in nature. So, did Medieval men and women. The stain glass windows and careful investigation of geology and nature are reflected in the written work, of Medieval men. The Renaissance men wrote about mountain climbing as though Medieval men never went mountain climbing. Petrarch (1304-1374)boasted about climbing Mt. Ventoux. What Moczar mentioned was Medieval men also climbed this mountain and accurately measured topography and altitude.
Did some of the early Christians condemn philosophy? Of course, some of them did. The Roman Emperor Tertullians (160-220 AD) did indeed condemn Greek thought and philosophy. However, St. Clement of Alexandria (150-211 AD) praised Greek thought/philosophy as a divine gift helping men to know more about God and to know be more able to defend the Faith. During the Dark Ages (c. 500-c.750 AD), monks and nuns literally saved Western Civilization via their hand copying the Classics, the Bible, etc. Modern men and women cannot underestimate achievements of these monks and nuns. The monks and nuns pioneered nursing, care of abandoned children(orphanages), etc. The Palace School at Aachen provided more learning, and Alcuin (735-804)and his scholars did incredible work re grammar, caligraphy, etc.
Later Medieval men and women produced great work re philosophy, theology, science, etc. For example, St. Anselm (1035-1109)helped reintroduce reason as a means of knowing God and defending the Faith. Moczar wrote about Abelard (1073-1142)whose book titled SIC ET NON (YES AND NO)which was a text to make students think. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure did significant work. As Moczar noted men and women during the High Middle Ages (c.1050-c.1350)were interested in exploring every aspect of reality-or God's Creation. Attempts by local authorities to censor Medieval teachers and students were often overturned by Papal Decrees. For those who claimed that "Enlightenment" men created the concept of natural rights, overlook the fact that Medieval Canon Law jurists created such as concept which was embellished by St. Thomas Aquinas. Readers should note that Father Bacon is credited with creating the Scientific Method, and he also produced a "remarkedly accurate geography of the eye."
Medieval men not only dealt with philosophy and theology, but they dealt with politics and economics. Royalty was accepted as part of the natural order, and monarchs were restrained by contracts and Catholic authorities which lead to conflict but also stable law and order. The Catholic authorities also gradually changed views re interest rates as long as they were not excessive. Contractual law and the guilds kept ecnomic affairs fair and balenced. St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)argued in favor of a republic as opposed to monarchy, and he became a saint in spite of the prevailing acceptance of monarchy.
Another topic that Mocar examined was the History of the Crusades. She reminded readers that the Moslems were a actual threat to Europeans. When Europeans visited Catholic shrines in the Holy Land, they were often masscred. The Moslems repeatedly invaded Europe beginning in the 600s, and the Crusades were viewed as defensive. This is not to say that later crusaders "were in it for the money" and excesses did indeed occur. Popes and other Catholic authorites condemned such outrages. The Crusaders did sack Constantinople in 1204, but the Byzantines massacred their Catholic counterparts in 1182. Later Moslems, especially the Ottoman Turks, invaded Europe in 1565 (Malta), Lepanto (1572), and Vienna (1683).
Moscar also treated the Inquisition and undermined the false myths re this institution. The earliest Popes and Catholic authorties did not want to execute "heretics." Their aim was to restore heretics to the Orthodox Faith. Excommunication did not start with Catholic authorities. One must remember that devout Jews also used excommunication. Some of the heresies that were later prosecuted were the 13th. century (1200s)Albigensians and Waldensians. These heretics preached against law and order and had dangerous concepts and practises. For example, they believed that physical reality was sinful, and they literally starved old people and children to death. When Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)first heard of these heretics, he DID NOT recommend a death penalty. He sent delgates to investigate whom these heretics murdered. However, when these heretics committed murder and got the Southern French and Northern Spanish to militarily support them, they were defeated by Catholic forces under the command Simon de Montforte (1160-1218). Moczar did a good job of underming the myths of the Spanish Inquistion. She cited Kamen's book titled THE SPANISH INQUISITION. While the Spanish monarchs abused the Inquisition, they were condemned by Popes and other Catholic authorities. One myth that was exploded was the use of The Iron Maiden. The Spanish had no such instrument, and the few that were found were located in Germany. In fact, many accused men and women wanted their cases tried in Church courts as penalities and interrogation were much more humane. Those inquisitors who exceeded their authority were immediately removed and critisized.
Another myth that Moczar exploded was that of Catholic witch craft trials. These were exceedingly rare in Catholic Europe. In most cases the Catholic authorities argued that they could not be bothered by such nonsense. A Mexican women was accused of witchcraft, and Catholic authorities rediculed the priests who brought the charges. Readers can contrast that with what happened in Puritan New England, Scotland, and England.
The accusations brought against Galileo (1564-1642)were clarified. Readers should note that Pope V (1605-1621)honored Galileo in 1610, and Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644) did the same in 1624. Catholic authorities were not upset with Galileo's theory of the heliocentric theory. But when Galilio tried to ram his theories into biblical literature and showed ingratitude toward his host, Pope Urban VIII, he got into trouble. Galileo could not prove his theories because telescopes were not advanced. St. Robert Bellarmine even stated that if Galileo were able to prove his theories, Bellarmine would petition to change interpretation of the Bible. Galileo was NEVER tortured, and he did not live in a dungeon. He live in ease at the Flortines' ambassador's residence. Galileo then turned his attention to the study of physics in which he did remarkable work. Mozcar noted that Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758)gave his imprimatur to ALL of Galileo's work.
Another "Black Legend" dealt with Catholic action in the Americas. Some of the Spanish Conquistadors did indeed mistreat Indians. However, Father Montisenos delivered a blistering sermon in 1511 in Haiti attacking such mistreatment which he did not retract when summoned to Spain. As Mozcar noted, communications between Catholic clergy and religious and the Church in Europe were estremely slow by modern standards. However, once Popes and other Catholic authorities got word of what was taking place, they immediately took action and moved to correct and eliminated abuses. As early as 1435, Pope Eugene IV (1431-1447)was clear that when the Portuguese started their explorations around Africa, that there should no enslavement of the natives. Later Popes issued several proclamations condemning slavery and abuse of those they found in newly discovered territories.
Mozcar wrote about the Reformation. She carefully noted that the "reformers" were often used as pretext to loot the Catholic Church re property and wealth. With the destruction of universities, orphanges, etc., the Europeans experienced misery and ferocious persecution. Often, the "reformers" hated each other as much or more than they hated Catholics. Erasmus (1466-1536)remarked that, "Where Lutheranism reigns, there is the end of letters." Reformers were brutal in executing Catholics. The English used the grusome method of having Catholics drawn-and-quartered." Henry VIII (1509-1547)had Friar Forest executed on a flaming gridiron.
Mozcar then undermined some modern lies re Pope Pius XII (1939-1958)who was accused of being "Hitler's Pope." Mozcar breifly demolishes this myth which others have done including Martin Gilbert and Rabbi Lapide both of whom are Jewish. Several books based on bonafide sources have destroyed this lie about Pope Piux XII.
Diane Mozcar wrote a readable account. This undersigned was impressed with her book. She could have written more about the intellectual contributions of Catholics. She should have written more the Catholic Canon Law jurists and their emphasis on Par Legum (by law or due process). However, this book is a good start to undermine lies about the Catholic Church History and is recommended.
James E. Egolf
March 27, 2011
110 of 128 people found the following review helpful
First Rate ApologeticsJan. 13 2011
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Diane Moczar is something of a heroine in the traditional Catholic community (a remnant, to be sure, but one growing and vibrant). And there's good reason for Moczar's status. She's an erudite, uncompromising, and highly articulate defender of the one true Faith; a resolute champion of the idea that Holy Mother Church can and must be restored to the fullness of tradition, without dilution or contamination. In her "Seven Lies about Catholic History", Moczar does a terrific job in living up to the old creed of praising the Lord and passing the ammunition.
The Catholic Faith has been attacked for centuries by secularists, atheists, schismatics, heretics, and members of false religions and dead-end sects; by the evil-minded moved hither and yon by a white-hot hatred of Christ and the one and only Church He founded. In "Seven Lies", Moczar presents the poisonous lies told for centuries regarding the so-called Dark Ages, the various Church-led inquisitions and crusades, the supposed necessity for the "Reformation", and more -- including the anti-historical and vicious-minded attacks on Pius XII, an outstanding pope. She then provides her readers with the arms and ammo necessary to man the battlements, fight the good fight, repel the relentless and demon-based attacks.
Most people, for instance, think that the Spanish Inquisition was something out of a Roger Corman movie, with at least one requisite scene where a perspiring, leering, Mephistopheles-bearded monk (usually habited in red for some lurid reason) applies pincers to the virginal flesh of a sweet, albeit buxom, young maiden. Rubbish! As Moczar points out, the various inquisitions weren't bestial. Moreover, they played an essential role in preserving both the Church and society from influences and forces that sought to disrupt and ultimately destroy the established order and culture. As Moczar writes on page 102: "Given its formidable task of guarding the purity of the Faith in Christian souls..., the overall record of the [Spanish] Inquisition in dealing with heresy is not only defensible but admirable."
A couple of minor negatives I think I should mention. First, on page 99, Moczar makes reference to the "dark angel's [Satan's] peculiar lack of originality." But on page 166, she states that Satan is "endlessly inventive". Hmmm. OK, not a big deal, but I have a weakness for pointing out such discrepancies. More significantly, I was somewhat taken aback to read, on page 127, that Moczar doesn't consider Boniface VIII to be "one of the shining examples of a pontiff". Really? Russell Chamberlin, author of "The Bad Popes", would agree. But I've read Sister Catherine's "Our Glorious Popes", and I disagree.
No matter. "Seven Lies" is a highly readable and tremendously helpful work. I strongly recommend it, along with Moczar's "Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know", which I like even more.
109 of 136 people found the following review helpful
Valuable But Flawed WorkMay 10 2011
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I am somewhat suspicious of books that receive universal rave notices, especially works judged to be "scholarly" but which give the reader such sketchy clues to source material as this one does. Works of scholarship, even if offered to a lay audience, typically guide the reader to specific sources, whereas this author simply quotes people with no specific information that goes beyond a kind of "somewhere in this person's book we find the following words" approach. I would not accept this from a student writing a research paper and I don't accept it from this author, who is apparently a professional historian.
I regret this assessment, because the content is valuable and needs to be addressed and given greater visibility in the culture (I write as a member of a Baptist church who has overcome earlier-in-life anti-Catholic bigotry and who likes to watch EWTN). That is why, though, I find a book like this frustrating. For example, on page 144 she quotes James Walsh quoting "a German dramatist discussing the cultural rupture caused by the Reformation." We not only are not told who the German dramatist was, but are given no clue as to where, in Walsh's book, this quote might be found. It's just somewhere in Walsh's "The Thirteenth, Greatest of Centuries."
Please have a bit more respect for a reader's curiosity!
A couple of other matters raise some question marks. On page 94 the author says that the Muslims invaded the Iberian peninsula "in the late sixth and seventh centuries." Islam did not even exist until the 7th century, so it is difficult to see how they could have invaded Spain in the 6th century (not good material for an alleged "historian.") Also, the date for the invasion is well-known; it was undertaken in 711 A.D. (the early 8th century).
The author also seems unclear as to the chronology of the High Renaissance, stating that Savanarola (a "carper") was executed because of people enamored of the glories of the High Renaissance. Savanarola was executed in Florence in the later 1490s, before many of the glories (Sistine Ceiling, Raphael's paintings inthe Stanza della Signatura, or the building of St. Peter's basilica) even existed.
These are not minor errors. The book may sooth uncritical enthusiasts for Catholic apologetics, but the flaws noted make one wonder about the accuracy of other aspects of the author's discussion.
A much better, and thorough take on many of these matters can be found in the excellent works of Dr. Rodney Stark (a Baptist, too!)
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
An incomplete historyJune 2 2011
D. F. Cicora
- Published on Amazon.com
I am a lifelong Catholic who has long defended the Church and its history. I was hoping to learn more, but alas, the work is rather cursory and presented in a format which would only appeal to staunch Catholics. The real difficulty in an endeavor of this nature, I believe, is that in order to truly defend Church, one must review the cultures and civilizations in which Church acted and the standards of conduct and ethics applied during and immediately preceding those actions by other authorities (religious and secular). If one chooses to comment in a truly Christian/Catholic manner, then the actions of others simply do not matter. Any comparison between Church and others becomes an excuse for sin. On the other hand, it is only by contrast and comparison that we can understand what the applied ethics were of any particular place/time in history. What was Islam doing in Spain to Christians before Ferdinand and Isabella; what would have happened to Europe if there is no call to the Crusades; why did the works of Greek philosophy fail to influence Islam to balance reason and faith; why were rabbis burning these works in Europe calling them the 'unclean books.' No one seems to recognize that it was the Catholic Church's support of the scholastic movement for several centuries which laid the ground work for Galileo, Cusanas, and the following emergence of science. Bear in mind the intellectual, political, cultural explosion of Europe never occurred anywhere else, at any other time, through any other religion. Yet, any full historical comparison of the actions of all three of the world's major monotheistic traditions would never be tolerated as charges of political incorrectness and prejudice would be leveled at the author for criticizing any non-Christian tradition. Read Numbers chapter 31 and of the actions of Mohammed as he gains momentum. Apply the same standards and criticisms as those applied to the Church.