CNHI News Service


February 15, 2013

Pope steps down without deserved fanfare



— Editor's Note: If you're not a weekly subscriber to Taylor Armerding's column, you can publish this one if you notify him at


Never mind about Islamists who call America “The Great Satan” and seek to obliterate our nation and way of life. Never mind about Sharia law’s treatment of women, and the punishments meted out to those who challenge it by doing things like calling for girls to be educated.

No, the real threat to civilization and the American dream is Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Catholic Church for the past eight years, who announced his resignation this past week because he believes he can no longer carry out the duties of the office.

It offered another opportunity for the haters of Joseph Ratzinger, who they call “Ratzi the Nazi” or “God’s Rottweiler” to rail about how radically conservative he is, how inflexible, how out of touch with the modern world, how his mission in life is to control everybody’s sex life and how he wouldn’t even control or punish priests who abused children.

On the last point, they have part of a point. The abuse scandal, besides inflicting horrific wounds on young innocents, is a self-inflicted wound on the church. Those who took vows to set an example of purity and godliness did the opposite.

I don’t pretend to know how well Pope Benedict confronted it – he did more than his predecessor, Pope John Paul II – but it clearly was not enough.

But those who try to use that human failure to undermine every inconvenient (to them) principal the Pope stands for are troubled souls who probably need the church much more than they realize.

First, and most important, is that nobody has to be a Catholic. Yes, some of us are brought up in a certain faith by our parents, but once we are of age, there is no law that says we have to continue. There is no state church. Those who remain Catholic do so by choice. If they cannot abide the Pope or the teachings of the church, they are free to leave.

Text Only
  • taylor.armerding.jpg Debate filled with 'hate' gives Hamas a pass

    Political invective is dialed to the max, and everyone who disagrees is a "hater." But the hate police, who are so eager to cast labels, are ignoring the real wells of contempt in the Middle East.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Congress should be cheered, not blamed, for sitting on its hands

    President Obama, his minions and the media wag their fingers at Congress for being unproductive, but passing more laws isn't necessarily a good thing.

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Impeachment arms Democrats, doesn't end the Obama disaster

    Republicans may have grounds to impeach President Barack Obama but they would be daft to pursue a case they cannot win in a Senate controlled by Democrats. Impeachment would only drive the Democrats' fundraising and potentially squander the GOP's best opportunity in years to capture both houses of Congress then, in two years, the White House.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Zamperini, the Olympian and POW, was a hero because of his faith

    Louis Zamperini collected many accolades as an Olympic distance runner and brave bombardier who spent a month adrift at sea and two years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. But faith and forgiveness are what truly distinguished him.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hobby Lobby critics push specious privacy pitch

    The violation of privacy argument by liberal detractors of the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby-Obamacare case doesn't hold water when you consider the current collection and use of the personal details of your medical preferences.

    July 11, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Declare your independence from empty slogans

    'Independence Day' is now an ironic celebration in a country where the president promotes government dependence over actual freedom, and where bumper-sticker slogans have replaced actual, independent thought.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Taxi owners, government patrons try forcing Uber to go 'off-duty'

    Uber gives urban passengers an enticing alternative. Rides on-demand arrive faster than taxis, are cheaper and cleaner, and get rated by customers. Rather than hail innovation, government enablers are helping the heavily regulated taxicab industry freeze out the upstart.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

    Forget everything you've heard about email. All digital trace of a former IRS official's email over the 25 months the agency harassed conservative groups has mysteriously, improbably vanished. Gone, too, is the White House's accountability as President Obama slips from another scandal.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo