This fine historian laments that fact that for many decades Catholics abandoned the task of apologetics (arguing for the faith) and instead issued apologies (sorry for the faith). That was cheeky. They didn’t apologize for the faith but they did apologize for Church history, again and again, accusing their forefathers, ad nauseam. They blame the recent Church “intransigence” on this history. The reason, it is alleged, that people fail to have faith today is that the Church was intransigent, impersonal, etc., in the past. The Church is not good at convincing others. That is why they are atheists or skeptics.
Amerio does not deny that no atheist has any excuse because of any believer. He simply wants to put a break on a self-demolition of the Church, which bends over backwards to account for all evils in the world because of her own faithfulness to her message. In fact, being a stickler for the message is the sine qua non (that without which) the Church cannot SAVE the world.
“This line of accusation is first and foremost superficial, because it assumes that the efficient and determining cause of one man’s error is to be found in the errors of others. The thesis contains a veiled denial of personal freedom and responsibility. It is also erroneous, because it implies that those who are to blame for others’ errors are themselves the only real agents, the others being simply secondary characters or even mere matter acted upon by the first group or by history. The thesis is also irreligious and generates an idea which is at odds with theological and teleological truths. Consistently applying this accusatory line of thought would lead to belaboring Christ Himself with responsibility for the opposition He met with from men, blaming Him for not having revealed Himself appropriately or sufficiently, for not having entirely dissipated doubts about His divinity, in short, for not having done His duty as savior of the world.” (Iota Unum, 121f).
In decades to come, will not the Church have to apologize for dereliction of duty, for failing to preach the Gospel in season and out? (Of course, not the Church qua Church, but in her members, lay or hierarchical.)