Mar 8, 2013
“I hope we get a nice pope,” a good Catholic woman told me soon after Benedict XVI announced his resignation.
“I don't care whether he's nice or not,” I replied. “I just hope he's strong.”
Actually, I'd be glad if the next pope were nice, with a winning smile and a friendly manner. But vastly more important than being nice is that he be a tough-minded realist, with a backbone of steel. That's what the Church needs now.
The problems that will face him are immense: the twin anti-Christian challenges of militant Islam in Africa and the Middle East and militant secularism in Europe and North America, very much including the United States; the apparent disarray within the Roman Curia that at times seemed to place it at odds with Benedict; and the continuing efforts of progressive Catholics, many operating from tenured positions of influence in Catholic academia, on behalf of their suicidal program of decentralization and decline.
Unsurprisingly, there's been a torrent of chatter in the media concerning what Catholics supposedly want at the dawning of a new pontificate. Much of it, to be blunt, has been useless or worse.