Brandon Vogt knows what skeptics of the Catholic Church are thinking: Why bother joining?
“Isn’t Catholicism a backward, intolerant bigoted religion?” he asks rhetorically in the introduction to his book, “Why I Am Catholic (And You Should Be Too)” (Ave Maria Press).
“Isn’t it run by pedophile priests and full of scandals? Doesn’t it degrade women and LGBT people and obsess about sex? Isn’t it plagued by pointless rules that stifle real faith?”
Vogt doesn’t pull punches. But that’s because he believes we live in a combative age when the Catholic Church is experiencing losses in members and bitter fights even amongst those who still belong, and it’s time for the Church to address this crisis.
With Catholicism no longer a “respectable” cultural force in many places, Vogt believes it’s time for Catholics to explain what they believe and why they believe it, and he does just that in his book, a breezy read that tries to answer the most common objections to Catholicism without oversimplifying the faith or dismissing reasonable criticisms. Among the topics are why the priesthood is male-only to why Catholics go to confession.
Although its leaders and members might not be all that attractive at times, the Church’s message is what ultimately converted Vogt from a mild-mannered Protestant into an enthusiastic Catholic leader several years ago. Catholicism, Vogt maintains, is true, good and beautiful, and he divides his book into three sections with chapters explaining why he believes this to be the case. Interestingly, he notes nothing is more revolutionary now than to believe in a 2,000-year-old institution.
“Catholicism … (is) the only true rebellion left,” Vogt continues in his introduction. “It’s not rebellious to get drunk, criticize institutions, pursue sex and money, or come out as an atheist … What’s truly radical is to consider a Church that billions of people have embraced throughout history but millions of people today dismiss as bigoted or outdated.”
Vogt works as content director for Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, and he also founded of ClaritasU, an online community for Catholics. “Why I Am Catholic” recently won First Place in the Catholic Press Association category of “Popular Presentation of the Catholic Faith.”
Vogt compresses a lot of information into 171 pages, from outlining arguments for God’s existence and the divinity of Jesus to highlighting the Church’s contributions to art and public charity through the centuries. He cites many popular Catholic authors — G.K. Chesterton is clearly one of his favorites — but also tackles weightier thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, to show how the Church has inspired and produced a host of great minds whose work has benefited, as well as entertained, humanity.
In an interview with Angelus, Vogt says he understands how the Church’s sex scandals played a major role in the current turning away by many Catholics from the Church. However, he believes people need to visit anew the Church’s teachings and discover its rich history, as he, a convert, did.
“The Church's credibility is not grounded on the behavior of its members,” Vogt says. “The important question is not whether its members are angelic, but whether its claims are true. Was the Catholic Church really started by Jesus? Was Jesus really God? Did he really rise from the dead? Do the Church's sacraments actually do anything? These are the important questions to ask, and these are the ones I deal with in my book.”
To learn more about Brandon Vogt, visit brandonvogt.com.
Rob Cullivan is a freelance writer living in Portland, Oregon. He has written for Catholic News Service and other religious and secular publications.
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