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Catholicism For Dummies Paperback – May 9, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 174 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“…relied on Catholicism For Dummies when correcting articles on Dogma.”(The Independent, 6th March 2007)

From the Back Cover

"A gold mine of insight on the Catholic faith for people of all ages and beliefs."
—Prof. Charles E. Rice, Notre Dame School of Law and Visiting Prof., Ave Maria School of Law

Explains the deadly sins and cardinal virtues

Get the scoop on the Catholic Church’s stand on important social issues

Want to know more about Catholicism? Catholicism For Dummies presents the rich tapestry and history of the Catholic Church – from devotions to doctrines. You’ll find a description of the Catholic Mass, the seven sacraments, the liturgical calendar, the duties of the clergy, and much more.

Praise for Catholicism For Dummies

"Catholicism For Dummies is an intelligent and faithful look at one of the more misunderstood topics in contemporary religion."
– Michael S. Rose, author of Goodbye, Good Men, Priest, and Ugly as Sin


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (May 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764553917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764553912
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Bennett VINE VOICE on June 17, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am currently an Anglican/Episcopalian exploring the Catholic Church, likely to be received soon. I have an extensive background in Scripture, Church History, ancient languages, etc. Yet as I began to explore the Catholic Church I realized that I could tell you quite a bit about St. Thomas Aquinas' understanding of transubstantiation, but I didn't know something as simple as when to cross myself at Mass! I also didn't know the official differences between mortal and venial sins, the ins-and-outs of papal infallibility, or the difference between a sacrament and a sacramental. This book helped me understand all of these things and then some. My point is that virtually anybody can learn a lot about the Catholic Church from this book, even those who consider themselves fairly knowledgeable to begin with (like cradle Catholics).
The style is easy-to-read, straight-forward, and the advice and information is always based on official Church teaching. So it is not a good place to go if you wish to join the Catholic Church because you like the stain glass windows but don't want to accept Church teachings. This does not mean the authors cover up or gloss over difficult issues. They clearly admit how some popes were awful, and they have harsh words for the minority of priests who sexually abuse children. They do put these issues in perspective, pointing out that the papacy has a better record than most secular leaders, and the sinfulness of Peter, who was still chosen as first of the apostles. They also compare molestation by priests to molestation within families, showing that within families it is far more rampant (without excusing bad priests' behavior!). These are fair and balanced assessments in my opinion.
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Format: Paperback
'Catholicism For Dummies' is far superior to the 'Complete Idiot's Guide to Catholicism'. The former gives you objective data on what Catholicism officially teaches, how it worships and how it works as an institution. The latter dressess up opinion as if fact and dishonestly injects dissident theology where readers are actually expecting and deserving accuracy and authenticity. I found CFD lightyears better than CIGC in content and layout. The book is not supposed to be about aberrations and deviations among renegade Catholics, rather it is supposed to present and explain a two thousand year old religion which presently incorporates a billion members. I found this book easy to read, enjoyable and informative. Had I wanted to read politically-correct, opinionated and hidden-agenda propoganda, then I would buy the Idiotic version.
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As with other "Dummies" titles, "Catholicism for Dummies" gives the reader a good introduction to the topic at hand. It doesn't get pulled down by extensive, excessive theological arguments or apologies that can confuse or bore the average reader. Instead, it offers a brief but thorough explanation of all things Catholic. From rosaries to charismatics to papal infallibility, it's covered here.
The information is presented in an easy to read, easy reference style. You learn why Catholics do certain things and why they don't do others. You get the Church's stand on certain major issues such as abortion, homosexuality and family planning.
This is a good book to introduce any non-Catholic to the beliefs of the Church. It also gives cradle Catholics a refresher course on their faith. I highly recommend this book for RCIA candidates and catechumens because it offers the Church's teachings in a quick-read format and can answer many questions for interested people. I wish I knew about this book when I was going through the RCIA process.
Another good introductory book to the Church is "Why Do Catholics Do That?" It's written by Kevin Orlin Johnson and is available here on Amazon. If books don't provide enough answers, attend RCIA classes, talk to Catholic friends, or talk to the local parish priest. These are all good resources for answers about the Church.
However, if you want a full explanation of the Church and her flock, get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It can be difficult to read, especially if you are not familiar with many Catholic terms, but it provides an extensive and concise description of the Catholic Church. Reading the Catechism with the Bible will give you an even deeper understanding of the Church.
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Format: Paperback
I am always on the lookout for resources that will assist me in learning about my own Catholic faith and in sharing that faith with my children, family and friends. I find Catholicism for Dummies (Wiley, June 2003, paperback, 384 pages) an excellent resource for both my own research and for teaching the faith in a straightforward yet comprehensive manner. Authors Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti have compiled a wide-ranging resource which will be of help for anyone looking to increase their knowledge of and devotion to their own practice of Catholicism.

Written in a concise, organized fashion, the Catholicism for Dummies offers practical information on all of the most basic elements of Catholicism, including - but not limited to - the Four Marks of the Church (One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic), the structure of the Church, basic beliefs, worship types, the Sacraments, the Mass, and much more. Timely (and at times controversial) issues of concern to most Catholics are discussed.

I found especially enjoyable the "Part of Tens" which relates the stories of remarkable Catholic role models and landmarks. The two appendices, one detailing the popes and a second outlining a brief history of the Church, are helpful additions.

Buy this book for your own Catholic library or as a gift for a friend interested in exploring the treasures of our Catholic faith.
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