Note: Before posting this we contacted both the editorial and sales departments of Pauline Book and Media asking for a comment on the problems with this book. That was a week ago and we have not received any reply.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
“Good Faith. Guaranteed.” This means a lot to us here at Aquinas and More. It is one of the guiding principles of our business.
This week we pulled from the shelves and discontinued selling one of our most popular titles related to the Year of St. Paul. Although we try very hard to evaluate all of our products, sometimes an item slips through and we only catch the problem after the item has arrived at our store - even worse, when we have already shipped the item to some of our customers.
We have contacted all our customers who purchased the book from us, informing them of the problem, and recommending that they return the item to us for an immediate and full refund.
Typically we rely on the expected good judgment of the publisher, and information in their catalog, when we decide to carry an item. We hope that Catholic publishers, at least the ones we have considered to be orthodox, have proper controls in place in their editorial departments to make certain they are publishing books that conform to the teachings of the Church.
The book in question is called “Paul: Least of the Apostles” and it is published by Pauline Books and Media, the publishing arm of a religious order, the Daughters of St. Paul.
Upon closer review of the book, here are just a few of the many problems we discovered - the author, Alain Decaux, states early on that St. Paul was “neurotic”. He quotes Remarius saying Paul “invented” Christianity. He quotes Neitzsche, the atheistic philosopher, saying Paul “imposed” his vision of Christianity on us. On page 106 of the book, the author states that James, not Peter, was the de facto leader of the Christian movement - denying, of course, the Petrine ministry. If one takes a look at the bibliography of the book, 11 of the 13 books listed are from Protestant sources, mostly Calvinists. Its no wonder the author denies the role of St. Peter in the Church. Mr. Decaux is a journalist and an historian in France. We don’t think he is qualified to write a book on Catholic theology or spiritual matters and certainly not one published by a Catholic publisher that purports to support the teaching of the Church as part of their mission. At the end of the book, the author includes a lengthy excerpt from something called “The Acts of Paul” - a work the Church considers to be non-canonical and apocryphal!
If one were to “google” the author, one discovers his background and his qualifications to write this book, presented as they are by Pauline Books, are problematic at best. Very disturbing, at least. Some sites claim he is a leftist/socialist with highly questionable academic judgment. You can find out more online about the author for yourself.
Last year we discontinued another book from Pauline in which the author of the text, a professor of Theology at the Boston University (a non-Catholic institution by the way), stated that some books of the Old Testament are “works of fiction.”
We call upon the Daughters of St. Paul to more carefully evaluate, prior to publication, all prospective titles and to be true to their mission to serve the Church in their media apostolate by insuring their publications are in conformity with Catholic teaching. Perhaps if just one or two people at Pauline Books and Media are involved in the review process, others should participate? In an age when the “Catholic” label gets slapped on all kinds of questionable and even herectical works, the stuff that typically packs the religion shelves at secular bookstores, we all need to be ever more vigilant.