Even in the midst of easing its long-criticized opposition to condoms as measures against AIDS, the Vatican seemed to set off as much head-scratching as applause at year’s end. Were Pope Benedict XVI’s quotes in the new Light of the World book really the best way for him to reveal such a momentous shift? Couldn’t the Vatican have better clarified the portentous implications for health workers, priests and others tasked with implementing Catholic teaching on contraception?
Under the weight of these problems and others, some are probably more convinced than ever that it’s time for the Catholic Church to fade into history. But as a non-Catholic paying attention to the church’s travails, I am struck, too, by the steadfast faith of the Catholics I know, and the principled public witness of the Catholics on the ground ”” the nuns, community activists, volunteers and everyday parishioners who keep on keeping on in the face of adversity.
Because of them and the principles that inspire them, count me as one rooting not for the church’s decline and death, but for its recovery and renaissance. May Catholicism’s best days lie ahead.