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What Are the Different Types of Catholic Fiction?

By R. Stamm
Updated May 23, 2024
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While Catholic books are difficult to define and market, they all have a similar theme, which focuses on a general faith in God, human frailty, and the redemption of the character. Not all books in this group have themes based solely on the Catholic Church and religion, but all reveal some aspect of the teachings of the Church. There are almost as many genres of Catholic fiction as genres appearing in other forms of literature. One can find suggested reading lists in a number of places including websites, Catholic newspapers, and through this or her parish priest. Catholic books may include categories from science fiction to horror and romance to mysteries.

The main focus of Catholic mystery and crime novels is to infuse the ideas of hope with the aid of faith in solving a problem. Non-Catholic fiction mysteries exclude these elements, and the characters attempt to resolve the situation based solely on their own talents. Some novels present a member of the clergy as the main character while others do not. In any case, the main characters possess virtuous qualities that are in direct contrast to the sins committed by the perpetrators.

One would consider science fiction a questionable category for Catholic readers due to the themes presented. The contrary is true, and the Catholic Church encourages the faithful to explore themes such as the apocalypse, prophecies, and mythology. These can include novels about situations in the future or some mythological place. A common theme suggests the struggles of the human race in confronting the problems of science versus morality. One of this category’s most prolific authors is Gene Wolfe, who wrote the series “The Litany of the Long Sun.”

The horror category of Catholic fiction centers on supernatural beings such as vampires, persons afflicted with some super natural power, or possession. Like other categories, themes revolve around the character’s struggle between his or her evil nature and the inherent goodness of those who may be harmed. The situations are usually resolved through the character’s faith in Christ and God. Some authors in this category include Dean Koontz, Phil Rickman, and Krisi Keley.

Catholic fiction romance novels present themes about family, marriage, morality and lust. Some novels focus solely on the traditional ideas of marriage and the roles husbands and wives play within that relationship. Characters answer questions about choosing the proper mate or controlling inappropriate desires. The main theme in this category is that all characters possess a high level of faith in solving problems pertaining to sin.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On Apr 19, 2012

@Iluviaporos - That's a good attitude to take. I'm not religious myself but I'm interested in religious themes in novels and I really think that forbidding books to kids only makes them want to read them more.

And I just think it is wrong, even from a protective standpoint. Your kids are going to have to live without you some day, and they need to know how to live, which include critical analysis about books.

I would let my kids read religious books even though I don't believe in religion, because it exists and they need to know what it is and why people think it's important. And, frankly, some of those books are excellent books and I'd hate to deprive them of that.

By lluviaporos — On Apr 18, 2012

@browncoat - It's true that quite a few stories will match up to biblical stories simply because they are powerful archetypes. I've even heard the Hobbit called a Christian story and people have said it about Harry Potter as well.

But really, anything can be used to talk about faith and God. I really respected one of the archbishops for saying that children should not be discouraged from reading the Northern Lights series, which has been condemned by others for being 'anti-religion'.

It is only fiction, after all, and kids should be made aware of the difference between fiction and faith. The bishop said that he thought it could give parents and their children something to talk about when it comes to faith and I agree.

By browncoat — On Apr 18, 2012

One of the most famous of all Catholic literature was the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis although some prefer to categorize it as Christian literature rather than just Catholic.

It's pretty obvious once you look for it, although I can't remember ever realizing it as a child. There are quite a few incidents in the books that relate to the bible, and Aslan himself is obviously supposed to be a stand in for Jesus.

I've heard quite a few kids say they felt betrayed when they found out what they thought was just an interesting story was actually supposed to be a lesson, but you should just encourage your kids to think of it as another way of describing the miracle of life in general.

I mean, the biblical story has meaning for us because it reflects what happens to everything, meaning death and rebirth. Many stories have it in some form because it is a powerful and familiar theme, rather than because they are trying to be biblical.

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