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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Web?

You’ve finally got that new Christmas computer set up, figured out how to fire up the modem, maybe even signed on to an online service. Now you’re ready for a leap into Internet apologetics. How to begin?

First, you’ll want to learn your way around the World Wide Web. Besides being a rich source for information about Church teachings and current events, the Web shows vividly what Catholics are up against in defending their faith—there are lots of anti-Catholic sites. Studying the materials about the Church on the Web will prepare for the demanding job of defending the faith in newsgroups and chat rooms.

But the Web can be daunting for “newbies” (new online users). Its vastness can be overwhelming: No one has the time to visit every site—not even every Catholic site. And the Web is growing exponentially each month. By the time you see this article, there will be dozens more Catholic-interest sites on the Net than there are as I write.

If you’re unsure how to access the Web, a few lessons from a seasoned surfer will have you roaming cyberspace in no time. Or consult our how-to sidebar.

Here are some URLs to get you started, beginning with Catholic sites:

Catholic Answers (http://www.catholic.com)

(You knew that would be first, didn’t you? ?)

Contains the text of more than 100 Catholic Answers tracts, as well as booklets and This Rock articles. Searchable by keyword. Online catalogue of apologetics materials. Watch for impressive new features shortly, including a massive database of thousands of questions and answers, plus excerpts from audio tapes. (Yes, you can listen to them through your computer.)

Vatican Web Site (http://www.vatican.va)

Like the Church itself, it’s still under construction. You can access the Vatican Information Service here, with daily updates on the Holy Father’s activities and speeches, as well as other Church news.

Catholic Files at American University (http://listserv.american.edu/catholic)

An uneven but useful collection of links to miscellaneous Catholic sites. Many religious order pages listed. The collection of Church documents, from patristics to the U.S. bishops’ statements, is an essential online resource. 

Catholic Information Network (http://www.cin.org)

Church documents, saints’ biographies, information about CIN online discussion groups. 

EWTN’s Searchable File Library (http://www.ewtn.com/ewtn/library/search.htm)

Another source of answers to specific questions. Search more than 12,000 files by keyword.

Catholic Information Center on the Internet (http://www.catholic.net)

A good source for linking to other Catholic sites. The Catholic Internet Directory and the Catholic Media Directory are available here, as well as samples of selected Catholic publications.

Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org)

Much like the previous site, it’s mainly a source for links. 

Nerd World’s “Catholicism” Section (http://www.nerdworld.com/nw3749.html)

An eclectic collection of links to other Catholic sites, including some offbeat ones. Some are orthodox, some aren’t. Worth a look.

Catholic Goldmine (http://www.cris.com/~stambros/catholic.html)

More than 800 links to all sorts of Catholic-related sites. You can spend a lot of time here just prowling around. Catholic penpals and Catholic singles pages, too.

Christus Rex (http://www.christusrex.org)

Another mega-site with links to Catholic groups all over the world (national origins are marked by flag icons). Hundreds of images of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Land, and great Catholic art. The Bible in several languages. Art history and travel sections. I love this place.

Beggar King Homepage (http://www.anet-stl.com/~nosmo)

Larry Nolte has extended his longtime BBS apostolate onto the Web. Several excellent apologetics articles, plus an online course in the Church Fathers “for people without theology degrees.” Nice selection of Catholic links.

Catholic Converts’ Connection (http://www.cin.org/users/jbrewer/convert.html)

Former Southern Baptist Jason Brewer has created an interactive site for converts, those thinking of entering the Church, and those who wish to support seekers. A place to ask questions and share experiences.

Catholic Converts’ Corner (http://rainbow.rmi.net/~pcragan)

Perry Ragan is another convert with a special interest in helping those in the RCIA program.

Nazareth Home Page (http://www.io-online.com/james/about.htm)

Catholic Answers apologist and This Rock contributing editor James Akin has amassed a library of apologetics and patristic literature. A “question box” lists questions and answers alphabetically by topic.

Pax Et Veritas (http://www.hpi.net/~pcragan)

Perry Ragan is another convert with a special interest in helping those in the RCIA program.

New Advent Catholic Supersite (http://www.sni.net/advent)

Indexed by topic, from Aachen to Zwingli, Kevin Knight’s site features files from the Fathers, the entire Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas, the ongoing Catholic Encyclopedia project, plus much more.

The Web offers an excellent opportunity for apologists to examine the common arguments against the Church. There is no scarcity of anti-Catholic sites:

Chick Publications (http://www.chick.com)

Mainly a catalogue for Jack Chick’s savagely anti-Catholic comic books and tracts, but the text of selected tracts is posted, including “The Beast,” a “classic” title Chick has updated to be more explicitly anti-Catholic. The “Beast” is identified with the pope, “Satan’s masterpiece [who] rules from the Vatican.”

Mission to Catholics International (http://www.znet.com/~bart/)

This is former priest Bart Brewer’s home page, featuring his peculiar brand of warped history and misrepresentation of Catholic beliefs. It also offers links to other “like-minded ministries,” so it’s a good starting place for reviewing the Fundamentalist anti-Catholic position.

Roman Catholic Faith Examined (http://www.bible.ca/catholic.htm)

The Catholic-bashing section of the slickly done “Interactive Bible” site. The entire site repays viewing, with pages attacking sabbatarianism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, premillennial rapture, and tongue-speaking. The author, David J. Riggs, invites Catholics to point out any instances where he misrepresents Church teachings—a provocative challenge, since he left the Church in 1962. He cites mainly Trent, the previous Code of Canon Law, the Douay-Rheims Bible—apparently unaware of later documents or changed disciplines.

Tentmaker Online (http://www.kensco.net/~thinkle/tentmakr)

This one’s a little deceptive. The materials seem innocuous in a nondenominational way until you dig into the files. Then you find a hatred for all churches, with (of course) special venom for Rome. Sadly humorous is the fanciful etymology for “church”—as derived from Circe, the mythological temptress.

Way of Life Literature (http://www.whidbey.net/~dcloud)

David Cloud (he says don’t call him “Reverend”!) serves up back issues of O Timothymagazine (articles by Dave Hunt, et al.), the Fundamental Baptist News Service (see the article by a purported former Missionary of Charity knocking Mother Teresa), and other morsels. Cloud is ecumenical in his calumny, though: He also blasts Billy Graham, James Dobson, and Promise Keepers.

Saints Alive in Jesus (http://www.saintsalive.com)

While their resource library is primarily dedicated to denouncing Mormons and Freemasons, they reserve a blast for the Catholic Church. It is fascinating that, of all the Christian condemnations of Freemasonry they cite, they never even allude to the repeated censures by the pope—or to the fact that Masons initially organized precisely as enemies of the Church.

A great deal of material on the Web is not consciously anti-Catholic; it just mimics the prevailing cultural attitude of hostility and ridicule toward the Church. If you search on the word “nun,” for example, you’ll find pages of links to tasteless jokes, cross-dressers, and the like. You may even find the NunBun site (http://www.qecmedia.com/nunbun), where a cinnamon roll said to resemble Mother Teresa is touted.

My advice for first-time Web-cruisers: Take your blood-pressure medicine, don’t take things personally, keep a sense of humor. A picture of St. Michael taped to your monitor will remind you what you’re about—and that you have help. Most sites let you leave e-mail for the webmaster, and I’ve initiated interesting apologetics exchanges by (tactfully) pointing out inaccuracies or oversights. The Web is a miracle of accessible information. Our task as Catholics is to present Christ’s truth clearly and lovingly there as everywhere.


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