Fr Rolheiser and atheists

Dear Editor, Fr Rolheiser’s weekly column is always enlightening, but is he correct in saying recently (IC 05/09/2013) that atheists who criticise the Catholic Church “…do us a huge favour,” since they offer us a chance to hear the truth about ourselves?


In fact, generally speaking, atheists who criticise the Catholic Church hate it not because it is bad, but because it is good and makes them feel guilty. Only 35 years after the Resurrection, St Peter sent a circular letter to Christians living in Asia Minor, explaining that the pagans persecuted them because they, the Christians, would not join in their debauchery.


Voltaire raged against the Church not so much because it was bad, but because he wanted to quell the guilt he felt for the many women he had injured. Similarly Nietzsche, whom Fr Rolheiser quotes with approval, was led to criticise religion by his own dissolute life style. Yes, Catholics sin too, but let’s be aware of the (unconscious?) hypocrisy of our enemies.


Like the old men in the Gospel who wished to stone the woman caught in adultery, critics of the Catholic Church are often projecting their own guilt feelings onto the Church when they criticise it. If they reveal our sins, they often reveal their own as well.


Yours etc.,

Aidan McGing CM,


Dublin 7.