Or should he be? To hear the secular media tell it, what the Catholic Church really needs is someone more like . . . Barack Obama. From my New York Post column today:
The instant Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement, the American media went into politics mode — and got even that wrong.
And not just the horse-race angle about who might succeed the German-born Josef Ratzinger, 85, a fierce defender of Catholic theology known around the Vatican as God’s Rottweiler.
No, the focus instead was on whether the church — despite centuries of fidelity to a well-defined set of moral precepts — will take this opportunity to “expand its appeal” by compromising its teachings on birth control, homosexuality and divorce.
And, given the church’s decline in Europe but its dramatic rise in the Third World, whether the next pope would better “represent” the demographic shift if he were black or Hispanic.
Translation: Will the Catholic Church finally start imitating the Democratic Party? Why not?
Benedict XVI did the Church a favor by stepping down. The Church is both a sacred and a secular institution — church and state — and the last thing it needs in a leader today is an infirm monkish intellectual with an unfortunate personal history that made him a sitting duck for the Frankfurt School–influenced media who see either a racist or a Nazi under every bed. It’s long past time for the return of the Church Militant — the Church Suffering, after all, is supposed to be in Purgatory, not here on earth. Engagement with the enemy used to be viewed as a positive moral good, as Christ Himself illustrated when he threw the money-changers out of the Temple:
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
With the Church under attack from within (time to disband the Jesuits?) and without (the unholy alliance between Western secularism and Islam), private prayer and contemplation are not enough. As Paul says in Ephesians 6:12:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Let the wrestling begin. And if the New York Times and its fellow travelers don’t like it, tough.