On April 19, 2005, the College of Cardinals could not have made a better choice for the universal Catholic church than electing Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to succeed John Paul the Great. It was, in fact, the choice of the Holy Ghost, because Cardinal Ratzinger was seen as much too conservative, divisive and old just a few months ago.
At the moment of the election, all the conditions were present to elect this holy priest. He was the dean of Cardinals. He had impressed the whole world and the other Cardinals during the ceremonies that he presided over after the death of John Paul II. He was thus seen as the natural successor to a conservative, but much appreciated, Pope. More than two million people paid homage to him at Saint Peter’s Basilica and the whole world was present (via media) at his funeral.
Cardinal Ratzinger took the name of Benedict to stress the importance of the new evangelization of the Western world. Saint Benedict is the patron saint of Europe and of the liturgy. The Opus Dei, an expression of the founder of monasticism in Europe, should be placed above everything else, because it shows the primacy of God in our world and in our lives.
Pope Benedict XVI understands the de-Christianization of our Western world better than anyone else and wants to face it with strength and direction. His first visit, after the official inauguration of his petrine ministry, was to the Basilica of Saint-Paul-Outside-the-Walls. This was to show the necessity of evangelization in our time and that priests and bishops should be ready to shed their blood for this sacred cause, like Saint Paul himself.
Unlike John Paul II, he comes from a de-Christianized country, Germany, and from a region, Bavaria, that used to be highly Catholic, like Quebec. In his most famous book, The Report on the Faith, a long interview about the situation of the church with Vittorio Messori, he even took the example of Quebec to illustrate the radical de-Christianization of the West.
He particularly lamented the death of feminine religious life in Quebec, which used to have the highest rate of nuns in the Catholic world. The progressivist bishops of Quebec should beware. The new Pope knows our situation very well and will no longer accept the laxity of the last 40 years.
A few years ago, progressivist Bishop Pierre Morisette, who was seen as a potential successor to Archbishop Maurice Couture in 2003 for the metropolitan seat of Quebec City, complained on television that many heads of Roman dicasteries criticized Quebec bishops during their ad limina visits. The reason for their criticism was the radical and persistent crisis of the church in Quebec, its lack of vocations, very low level of religious practice, the closing of churches and so on.
Pope John Paul II was very caring and patient with them, to the point that he named a progressivist bishop in Gaspé, Bishop Raymond Dumais, in the 1990s. This bishop eventually left the priesthood to live with a woman. Fortunately, this phase is over! A few years ago, the progressivists thought that they would have Cardinal Martini as bishop of Rome and Bishop Morisette as archbishop of Quebec City. We now have Pope Benedict and Cardinal Ouellet in Quebec City. This is a great disappointment for them! The Holy Ghost is still active; He is still protecting his church!
On May 7, 2005, Benedict XVI visited the Saint John Lateran Basilica. There he repeated that the church cannot, and will not, change her positions on abortion and euthanasia. He warned us, on the contrary, of the temptation to water down Catholic doctrine in order to please the world. We must be ever clearer in our positions. This is how the church will gain conversions, such as those in the U.S.A. with Scott Hahn, Father George Rutler and Patrick Madrid.