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Q: What is the book's thesis?
A: The quest for the good society has intrigued philosophers down through the ages, and although attempts to achieve it have always failed, the teachings of the Catholic Church remain the most cogent and plausible prescription ever formulated. That many of its own teachers, namely the clergy, have not lived up to those teachings is incontestable, but that hardly negates their veracity. The central issue is whether the Church's teachings constitute the right roadmap necessary to achieve the good society, and whether those who faithfully follow them offer exemplary role models toward that end. This book demonstrates that they do.
Q: Why is this book necessary?
A: There has been a rash of negative news in recent years about the Catholic Church, much of which has been warranted. But the picture being painted is nonetheless skewed; there needs to be a corrective, and this book provides the right antidote to the conventional wisdom. The positive contributions that the Catholic Church has historically made--in every aspect of society--merit a serious hearing. This book offers plenty of examples of both the sagacity of the Church's teachings, and the achievements of its adherents.
Q: Who is the book's intended audience?
A: This book will appeal to those practicing Catholics who need to be better informed about the Catholic Church's positive role in history. Catholics who have strayed, or who have become disenchanted, will find this work to be a refreshing reprieve from the steady drumbeat of negative commentary; for this reason alone, young Catholics will be drawn to this volume. And to those who are not Catholic, there is much about Catholicism's rich history that they will encounter for the first time.
Q: What subjects does it cover?
A: The book demonstrates how the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance can reshape society in the 21st century. The section on prudence discusses the Church's contributions to freedom, focusing on the role that natural law and natural rights have played in the Church's efforts to undermine evils ranging from slavery to abortion. Justice covers the teachings and achievements of the clergy, the religious, and the laity in caring for the needy, the dispossessed, and immigrants; much emphasis is given to the role played by nuns. The Catholic Church's role in combating fascism and communism, particularly the yeoman efforts of Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II, respectively, demonstrate how fortitude has been put into practice. The link between temperance and the good society is discussed in relation to so-called victimless crimes, sexuality, marriage, and the family. As such, the book covers political, economic, social, and cultural issues, both historical and contemporary, domestic as well as foreign.
Q: How is this book different from others that address similar topics?
A: This is not a history book, although it covers much historical ground. It is not an intimidating work, nor is it a volume for specialists. To be sure, scholars will find it useful, and it is particularly suitable for classroom use; students will discover much that is new. Its thematic approach--using the cardinal virtues to explain the Church's contributions--is unique. The book does not skirt controversial issues, but it does portray Catholicism in a manner that is at once endearing and enlightening. It is sure to make Catholics proud.