Crusader Against Evil
The task for the new Pope is not to take sides between liberals and conservatives. Nor was that the choice the cardinals faced in this extraordinarily rapid conclave. All cardinals are, by definition, conservative.
No, the great issue for Pope Benedict XVI is the one that he set out in his remarkable sermon at the preconclave Mass in St Peter’s. Does he wish to lead the Church down the primrose path of secularism, following the Christian heartlands of Europe in their descent into moral relativism, or does he intend to turn towards the new missionary Church of Latin America, Africa and Asia, to reaffirm the faith of Christ, the faith of St Peter, the faith of John Paul II? That is the real choice.
He grew up under the Third Reich, witnessing at first hand the coercive and corrosive effects of a political religion. Though his father was no Nazi, Joseph was obliged to join the Hitler Youth and was fortunate to avoid military service. Far from this experience being an obstacle to his elevation, it was this dark night of the soul that qualifies him for it.
The revelation of the diabolical nature of the Nazi system, above all the murder of the Jews, confirmed in him the determination to devote his life to God. This was his form of atonement, and he has accompanied John Paul II on the spiritual journey that brought about the reconciliation of the Church and the Jewish people that was one of the greatest achievements of the past pontificate.
We cannot expect this Pope, of all popes, to abandon the “deposit of faith” which it is his sacred duty to preserve. There will be no change on issues such as contraception or the ordination of women, no legitimisation of gay marriage, no slackening in the determination to protect the unborn child or to stop the destruction of human embryos by scientists. The Nazi experience has taught Benedict XVI the dangers of eugenics and euthanasia, and we can expect an even more vigorous crusade against these evils.
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