Michael Coren shows he is a defender of the faith in his book Why Catholics are Right.

A Catholic apologist brashly gets it right

By  Ian Hunter, Catholic Register Special
  • June 1, 2011

Michael Coren shows he is a defender of the faith in his book Why Catholics are Right. (Photo courtesy of Michael Coren)One thing needful in our confused time, it has long seemed to me, is a lively polemic in favour of the Catholic faith. Thanks to Michael Coren we have one in his new book Why Catholics are Right.

It is sure to confound and infuriate enemies of the Church while delighting and instructing Catholics who take the time to read and learn from it. Even the title is provocative; today’s ecumenist likes to gather around the campfire interspersing choruses of “Kumbayah” with choruses in praise of other denominations, even other religions, and here comes brash Coren suggesting that Catholics have got Christianity right and all others are (to a greater or lesser degree) wrong. Well, who does he think he is making such triumphalist assertions?

In our local paper a retired United Church minister was apocalyptic while unfavourably reviewing Coren’s book; now I cannot say how Coren reacted to this review, but I have long rejoiced in any criticism emanating from the United Church of Canada, which I consider the pons asinorum of contemporary churchmanship.


Coren is not a cradle Catholic but a convert, born in England, son of a Jewish father and a working class mother. As with most converts, Coren became a Catholic simply because he came to believe that what the Church teaches is true.

In the introduction, he puts it simply: “I’m a Catholic and believe in Catholicism, and thus I believe that people who disagree with my beliefs are wrong.”

Coren has enjoyed a noteworthy career as a journalist and syndicated columnist, radio and television broadcaster and a biographer (of, among others, G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells, and C.S. Lewis). How does he fare here as a Catholic apologist? Very well, I should say, provided that one understands what an apologist is not. An apologist is not a theologian, although he must be familiar with at least the main theological currents. Nor is he an historian, although Coren’s discussion of Church history — and particularly that old bogeyman ever ready to jump out and say “Boo” to timid Catholics, the Crusades — is handled accurately and concisely. Nor is an apologist a wannabe evangelist, although both may share the desire to spread good news. No, an apologist is more like a skilled advocate, a man who believes in his cause and is ready to explain why to anyone who will listen.

Coren’s chapter titles give a rough synopsis of the contents: Catholics and the Abuse Scandal (“This is the chapter I didn’t want to write and shouldn’t have to”); Catholics and History; Catholics and Theology; Catholic Life; Catholics and Other Stuff (including papal infallibility, divorce and annulments, the sacraments, etc.)

I started the book thinking how welcome it was as a fresh defense of  orthodoxy; I concluded it ruminating on how many scantily catechized Catholics could benefit from reading it.

Of course Why Catholics are Right is guaranteed to get up the noses of secularists, feminists and that legion of dimwits who have been brainwashed in the modern university to believe that nothing is ever true or false, nothing is ever right or wrong, but everything is relative, don’t you know. These people might benefit from reading the book, but they probably won’t. So, my suggestion is read it yourself, and then pass it on to any literate Protestant you might still happen to know.

(Ian Hunter is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario.)

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