Can you imagine a world without the Catholic Church?

Can you imagine a world without the Catholic Church?

Lately, the Catholic Church has come under fire for its perceived influence in the Roe vs Wade reversal. Many churches were vandalized and some even protested during church services. The USCCB reports 157 incidents in 37 states and the District of Columbia since May 2020. The Church’s view of abortion, coupled with its view of the family and human sexuality, marks it as outdated and disconnected. This criticism comes from many people who have little or no understanding of the importance of the Catholic Church in shaping Western civilization. It is true that the Church has made mistakes and continues to make them. It is made up of hypocritical sinners, a hospital for souls in need of healing. I will show how the influence of the Catholic Church has touched fundamental aspects of our lives today. This influence is seen in higher education, medicine, science, law and morality. Western Civilization is Catholic Civilization with a capital C.

learning and university

Did you know that many literary works from antiquity were kept by Catholic monks? Did you also know that the origin of the modern university system lies in the development of cathedral schools in the Middle Ages? The Catholic Church is responsible for the tradition of education in the West. No Catholic Church, no University of Paris. No University of Paris, no Oxford or Cambridge. Without the Catholic Church, universities do not exist.


Many of us take the availability of medical care for granted. Even our broken medical system is far greater than anything in the ancient world. Before the Catholic Church, hospitals did not exist. First designed to deal with strangers, hence the word hospitality, these places were only intended for the sick, without distinction of class or age. The Western tradition of hospitality is a Catholic tradition. Without the Catholic Church, hospitals do not exist.


Did you know that the formulator of the Big Bang theory was a Catholic priest (Georges Lemaître)? Or that the father of genetics was also a Catholic priest (Gregor Mendel)? And let’s not forget Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, although Church leaders erred in condemning Galileo at the time, he remained a faithful Catholic until his death. The Catholic Church, contrary to the myth that presents it as anti-science, laid the foundations of science in Western Europe. Without the Catholic Church, modern science does not exist.


With the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, Roman law was replaced by local customs which involved trials by fire and water, blood feuds and trial by combat. Rational, evidence-based jurisprudence virtually disappeared in Western Europe until the codification of canon law in the 12e century with Gratiani’s Decree. Moreover, as the influence of canon law increased, local customs of hardship, contention, and trial by combat diminished. If the Catholic Church had not reintroduced codified law in Western Europe, we would still be in the Dark Ages, legally speaking. If not for the Catholic Church, modern law does not exist.


Did you know that infanticide was acceptable in the Greco-Roman world? Weak and abnormal children drowned at birth. The sick and the poor treated with contempt. It was the view of the Catholic Church that everyone’s worth is sacred that changed the moral framework of the West. Finally, infanticide was a thing of the past. Also, with the influence of the Church, killing for sport in the gladiatorial arena came to an end. Eventually, just war theory developed through the teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo. This evolution and attempt to reduce the effects of war helped develop the Western concept of justified war and permissible conduct during war. Finally, the Church’s view of sexuality, based on the family, has been the foundation of Western civilization since the fourth century. Except for the Catholic Church, the foundation of Western civilization (the family) does not exist.


The facts are clear regarding the influence of the Catholic Church on Western civilization. Western civilization IS Catholic. Our educational, medical, scientific, legal and moral traditions come from the Catholic Church. We need to re-educate ourselves on this fact. It’s time we gave credit where credit is due.

Much of the information in this article is taken from the excellent book by Dr Thomas E Wood How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

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Taken from Pixabay

Jerry B. Hatch