Why Benedict XVI tried, and failed, to evangelize Europe
Benedict XVI's central ambition was to evangelize his homeland. Why did he fail so badly?
These are obviously dark days for the Roman Catholic Church. For over a decade, the U.S. church has been assailed by abuse charges and devastated by the resulting litigation. The Vatican used to console itself with the belief that this was a peculiarly American crisis, but, this year, similar abuse cases have arisen all over Europe—most agonizingly in Ireland, one of the world's most faithfully Catholic countries. Across the continent, bishops are facing demands to resign, while critics are urging Pope Benedict himself to consider standing down.
If we needed reminding, the carnage in Mumbai proved yet again that South Asia is home to some of the world's deadliest Islamist terrorists. Usually missing from press coverage, though, is any sense of the origin of these movements, which are often assumed to be tied to the grievances of the Arab Middle East and the fate of Jerusalem. That is a misconception. Historically, the roots of radical Islam belong at least as much in South Asia as in the Middle East. And one individual, wholly unfamiliar to most Westerners, played an indispensable role in founding and shaping that movement.