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Published: Saturday, 6/10/2006

Apologist: Church has made itself easy target


One reason for The Da Vinci Code s success it that the Catholic Church has made itself a vulnerable target over the last few years, according to Patrick Madrid.

Mr. Madrid, who will speak in Toledo on Wednesday night, is an apologist whose role is to defend and explain Catholicism.

He said in an interview this week that the church is still reeling from the two black eyes it suffered starting in 2002.

First there was the priest scandal, and then the inept handling by bishops. I think the Catholic Church has gotten itself into such a mess, such a public relations mess, that it is in a position where this kind of negative attack [from The Da Vinci Code novel and movie] is going to play well with a lot of people who are already negatively disposed toward the Catholic Church, Mr. Madrid said.

He called Dan Brown s book and the Ron Howard-directed movie terrible and malicious.

It s an attack on several levels. It s an attack on the Catholic Church, certainly, besmirching the church as this bloodthirsty, ruthless group willing to kill people to preserve this conspiracy. But it s also an attack on Christianity, denying the central truths of its teaching including the Holy Trinity. Not just Catholics, but all Christians should be unhappy about this book and movie.

Mr. Madrid, 45, is the founder and editor of Envoy magazine, a journal of Catholic apologetics and evangelization. He also is the author of 14 books including Surprised by Truth, a series that has sold more than 350,000 copies in English and Spanish, and Where Is That in the Bible?

His most recent, Does the Bible Really Say That?, was published this week by Servant Books and he has another one due out soon, titled Jesus Said It, I Believe It, offering his commentary on the sayings of Christ.

Mr. Madrid said he does not try to get involved in arguments about religion, but rather to be ready to have a respectful conversation that hopefully will lead to the truth.

His biblical guideline is 1 Peter 3:15, which says, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Mr. Madrid was among the experts who participated in a mock conclave on the nondenominational Web site www.beliefnet.com to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II last year.

I was one of the people from front to back who was promoting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger [who became Pope Benedict XVI].

He said he was certainly very pleased when he was elected but said it is too soon to evaluate his first year as Pope.

He has done so much of it behind the scenes, Mr. Madrid said.

Some of the Pope s actions have been very positive, he said, including taking steps to reform the liturgy and streamlining the curia.

He definitely is showing that he s not a creature of the Vatican bureaucracy. He definitely is its master.

If God gives him many more years, we will likely see some surprises.

Patrick Madrid will be the guest speaker at the Ministry to Catholic Charismatic s Diocesan Prayer Meeting, 7:30 Wednesday at Little Flower Church, 5522 Dorr St. Refreshments will be served.

Information: 419-691-6686.

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