Those who seek to challenge the Christian position are themselves often unclear about what the Church teaches or why it believes certain things.
Little wonder, then, that the whole thing becomes a dialogue of the deaf, neither side understanding the other – or, perhaps worse, even attempting to.
A timely contribution to this maelstrom is a new book, How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice – Civil Responses to Catholic Hot-Button Issues.
Written by Michael Kelly, the managing editor of the Irish Catholic and a prominent speaker on religious and public affairs, and Austin Ivereigh, a biographer of Pope Francis and co-founder of Catholic Voices, the book sets out to equip Catholics to defend their beliefs in a courteous and rational way.
Non-Catholics will find wisdom on its pages too, as it examines not only abortion but issues such as euthanasia, sexuality, women in the Church and the link between the Church and politics.
Mr Kelly says he hopes the book helps people to dialogue “in a culture that has changed, where people don’t share the same religious assumptions as they did in the past”.
“By the end of a respectful conversation – be it over dinner or in the office – I would love people to know more about why the Church teaches what it teaches about certain issues,” he says.
And while you may still disagree at the end of the conversation, at least it can be an informed disagreement.
Indeed, part of the book’s proposition is that it is more important for a Christian to be a faithful witness to the values they hold dear than it is to simply ‘win’ an argument.
Taking Archbishop Eamon Martin’s phrase that Catholics today need to be “intentional disciples”, Mr Kelly forms a contrast with the ‘old’ Ireland, in which “Catholics didn’t have to think about anything because no-one was ever going to ask you a difficult question”.
“The secular liberal culture is in that space now. The dominant culture is entirely of their making, and agrees with them on virtually everything,” says Mr Kelly.
This is an edited extract. To see the full article, click here.
To purchase a copy of this timely book in the wake of the Eighth Amendment referendum result, please visit our catalogue.