It is fashionable to consider that we are in a post- Christian era; that as a civilization we have outgrown religion. It has been a truism for decades that religion is in decline, and that the Roman Catholic Church is racked with dissension, starved of clergy and is becoming a mere consolation for the geriatric and the ignorant. Our Islamist enemies routinely revile the West as a godless pigsty of degeneracy and materialist corruption. Because our opinion-leading elites have, unlike most of the greatest cultural icons of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, renounced religion in most forms, this Islamist complaint is largely conceded by most of our cultural leaders, and considered by them a badge of honour.
But this confession of agnosticism, whether smug or contrite, is, in most respects, a fraud. The Roman Catholic Church has as many adherents as all the branches of Islam combined, and probably as many communicants; and they enjoy a higher standard of living and education and influence in all fields, except radical politics and oil production, than the Muslims. The Pope speaks for his co-religionists. What is the telephone number or address of the head of Islam?
When John Paul II died in 2005, the Western media honoured him as a strong and brave (if quaint) man who had faced Nazi and Communist oppression and the ravages of age and illness, all with the same unwavering courage. But his Church was deemed to be in crisis and mortal decline, and infested by perverts. Three million people spontaneously came to Rome for his funeral, with no chance to see much of it, though then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger held it in St. Peter’s Square where more than 500,000 people could witness it. There were in the world twice as many people calling themselves Roman Catholics as there had been when he had become pope, 27 years before, and the ceremony was attended by 75 chiefs of state and heads of government, a higher total than the funerals of John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle combined, (impressive ceremonies though those all were).