Can You Imagine a World Without the Catholic Church?

Can You Imagine a World Without the Catholic Church? July 31, 2022

Can you imagine a world without the Catholic Church?

Lately, the Catholic Church received criticism for its perceived influence over the overturn of Roe vs Wade. 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 on abortion, coupled with its view on the family and human sexuality, marks it as antiquated and out of touch. This criticism comes from many with little to no understanding of the importance of the Catholic Church in the shaping of Western civilization. True, the Church made mistakes and continues to do so. It is made up of hypocritical sinners, a hospital for souls in need of healing. I will show how the Catholic Church’s influence has touched core aspects of our life today. This influence is seen in higher education, medicine, science, law, and morality. Western Civilization is Catholic Civilization with a capital C.

Learning and the University

Did you know that many of the literary works of antiquity were preserved by Catholic monks? Did you also know that the modern university system’s origin lies in the development of cathedral schools during the Middle Ages? The Catholic Church is responsible for the education tradition in the West. No Catholic Church, no University of Paris. No University of Paris, no Oxford or Cambridge. If not for the Catholic Church, universities do not exist.


Many of us take for granted the availability of medical care. 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 care for strangers, hence the word hospitality, these places eventually catered to only the sick, regardless of class or age. The Western hospital tradition is a Catholic tradition. If not for 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 censoring Galileo at the time, he remained a faithful Catholic to his death. The Catholic Church, contrary to the myth that proports it as anti-science, planted the foundation for science in Western Europe. If not for the Catholic Church, modern science does not exist.


With the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, Roman law was replaced with local customs that involved ordeals by fire and water, blood feuds, and trial by combat. Rational evidence-based jurisprudence mostly disappeared in Western Europe until the codification of canon law in the 12th century with Decretum Gratiani. Moreover, as canon law’s influence increased, local customs of ordeals, feuds, and trials by combat decreased. If the Catholic Church had not reintroduced codified law back into Western Europe, we could 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 poor treated with scorn. It was the Catholic Church’s view that the value of everyone is sacred that changed the moral framework of the West. Eventually, infanticide was a thing of the past. Furthermore, with the influence of the Church, killing for sport in the gladiatorial arena ended. Eventually, the theory of just war developed through the teaching of St. Augustin Of Hippo. This development, and attempt to curtail the effects of war, helped to develop the Western concept of a justified war and the permissible conduct during war. Finally, the Church’s view of sexuality, as grounded in the family, has stood as the foundation of Western Civilization since the 4th century. If not 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 reeducate ourselves on this fact. It is time we give credit where credit is due.


Much of the information in this article was take from Dr. Thomas E Wood’s excellent book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

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