C. S. Lewis and Catholicism

by Michael Potemra

Rereading C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves, I am arrested by this passage: “If ever the book which I am not going to write is written it must be the full confession by Christendom of Christianity’s specific contribution to the sum of human cruelty and treachery. Large areas of ‘the World’ will not hear us till we have publicly disowned much of our past. Why should they? We have shouted the name of Christ and enacted the service of Moloch.” This is probably the first time I’ve read this passage since Pope John Paul II’s historic apologies for the misdeeds of the Christian past, a few years back. And I wonder: If Lewis had lived to see the day that a Catholic Pope stepped up to the plate and did this, might it have provided the final impetus he needed to convert to Catholicism? (Joseph Pearce—who had a piece on NRO yesterday–by the way, has written a fascinating and worthwhile book on C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church, just out from Ignatius Press.) Some Christians are troubled by these kinds of admissions, and put a lot of effort into finding mitigating circumstances for the past human rights abuses committed in Christ’s name; to the extent that their work is motivated by charity toward the accused and respect for the truth, it is laudable. But in any case, it’s very heartening that two of the greatest Christian witnesses of the past century are on the same page on this issue; they know that the spiritual strength of an institution stands in inverse proportion to its fear of the truth.

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