Good article from The Catholic Thing about the supposed irrelevancy of the Church.
“For an institution many believe is declining and irrelevant, the Catholic Church sure gets a lot of attention. And advice. It’s remarkable how many people who have little use for Catholicism are quick to offer warnings when a new pope is about to be chosen. They may not much believe in absolutes, but they’re quite certain what the Church ought to do next – if it wants to survive.
“Of course, most of them suggest becoming like themselves, as if – Christ’s hard sayings having been liberalized away – people will rush out of the house on a Sunday morning to hear the same things from the pulpit that they could get over coffee reading the Sunday paper. It’s the old modern litany: equality, inclusiveness, tolerance, not judging, compassion, social justice, respecting different points of view.
“These are all good things, understood in the right way and context. But they are at most half of the story. Besides, the world already thinks it practices them far better than the old men in Rome, who persist in saying some things are not good for human life – like killing it in the womb. And who believe that restricting ourselves to the human horizon alone will inevitably lead to an inhumane humanism. We had multiple examples of that phenomenon in the last century, but don’t seem to be done with it yet.
“You don’t have to look very far, for instance, to see that inclusiveness and respect for different views don’t much count when it comes to Catholicism. Even basic civility goes out the window. Some of the things that have been said about Benedict XVI since he announced his resignation last week – from his “Nazi past” to his “crimes against humanity” in the priestly abuse cases – would be thought “offensive” directed at any other religious leader.
“But in its way, it’s a tribute. The pope still matters and this pope in particular has made a special mark through his thoughtfulness, conscientiousness, and humility – all of which entered into his decision to resign. The world does not let such good deeds go unpunished. Still, one thinks of Mark Twain’s character who, tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, remarked: “If it weren’t for the honor, I’d just as soon have walked.”