Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Quick hits: Anti-Catholic bias among historians, Pope Francis breaks with predecessors on European secularism

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | May 09, 2016

  • Catholic World Report carries a must-read interview with Rodney Stark, a leading sociologist who concentrates on religious history. Stark, who is not a Catholic, sees anti-Catholic bias as a pervasive problem in historical studies, skewing the public understanding of topics such as anti-Semitism, the “Dark Ages,” the Crusades, the Enlightenment, the birth of capitalism, and the Holocaust. Stark—whose new book, Bearing False Witness, covers these and other subjects—emphasizes that he is not trying to advance the Catholic cause: “The only axe I have to grind is that history ought to be honestly reported.”

  • Andrea Ricciardi, the influential founder of the Sant’Egidio community, has contrasted the views of Pope Francis with those of Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II using the current Pope’s address on receiving the Charlemagne Prize to illustrate his argument. Whereas the two previews Pontiffs consistently decried the dominance of secularism in Europe, Ricciardi writes, Pope Francis has championed “a culture of dialogue and integration.” Pope Francis did not even mention secularism in his Charlemagne Prize speech; when he spoke about the shared heritage of European society, he was referring to the first foundings of the European community—now known as the EU—rather than the ancient roots of Christianity. Ricciardi sees this approach as more promising—as does John Allen of Crux, reporting on Ricciardi’s analysis.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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