OPINION

A bulwark for the Christian club

ost commentators view the new pope as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. But like his predecessor John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, now Benedict XVI, is much more than merely a church leader. The late John Paul played a key role in containing communism, a godless doctrine. There is good reason to believe that his successor at the helm of the Holy See will take a similar stand against the continent’s latest historical challenge: the protection of European identity against Turkish infiltration. For the most part of John Paul’s tenure, Cardinal Ratzinger was prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, serving as the guardian of church orthodoxy and was a major influence behind John Paul’s positions on Europe’s Christian foundations. As pope, he is expected to protect this legacy. Those who know him have no doubt that he will try to make sure that Europe remains what Turkey accuses it of being: a closed Christian club. The election of Benedict XVI sets in motion one of the archetypal and strongest mechanisms of self-defense – and that at a time when the reflexes of European nations are on the wane and governments appear willing to jeopardize European identity for the sake of a few votes. Benedict’s role, which could prove more crucial than that of the European Constitution, is not a political one but more profound nonetheless. It’s an existential one.