What Do Catholics Believe? 12 April, 2008

There are well over a billion living Catholics. What do they believe? What is the Catholic Church? In recent years there has been a wave of great apologetic writing, much of it by former Evangelicals, aiming to explain and defend Catholic beliefs, but relatively few of those books are directed at complete outsiders to Christianity. Leonie Caldecott’s new book was commissioned by the secular publishing house Granta as part of a series that aims to introduce the beliefs of different communities to each other. It pays particular attention to those aspects of the faith which make Catholicism distinctive, including the doctrine of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and the saints, especially Mary.  She also emphasizes the importance to Catholics of a sense of the history of their Church (in both its positive and negative aspects) traceable back to St Peter, the first Pope, and the central role of the Papacy ever since, and she looks at the challenges the faith has to confront in the twenty-first century.

Leonie Caldecott is co-founder of the Centre for Faith and Culture in Oxford, and of the journal Second Spring.