Byline: Jeffrey Kuhner, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has sent shock waves throughout the Catholic world - and rightly so. The Holy Father's eight-year reign was very successful. With his announcement that he will be stepping down at the end of February, the church must find a suitable successor. It will be difficult.
Pope Benedict's greatest accomplishment is that he put in place an impregnable defense of the culture of life - continuing the mission of his charismatic predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict is more than a gifted manager. He is a brilliant scholar and theologian. He has bravely spoken out against abortion, homosexual marriage, contraception, sexual promiscuity, euthanasia, pornography and moral relativism. His worldview can be distilled to one seminal idea: Secular liberalism is a false god and pseudo-religion; the only source of transcendental meaning is the church and Jesus Christ.
Hence, liberals despise him. They are now dancing on his papal grave. Since he ascended to the papacy, the anti-Catholic left has accused him of numerous crimes - being a Nazi sympathizer, fostering the hatred of women and perpetuating homophobia and Islamophobia. The now-deceased Christopher Hitchens referred to Pope Benedict's career as having the stench of evil. (This from a man who, for years, rationalized communist tyrannies responsible for the slaughter of millions.)
In the eyes of the secular left, the Holy Father's real crime is he is a genuine Catholic. The pope's teachings simply reinforced traditional orthodoxy, expressing the tenets of natural law. His views went against trendy progressive opinion. They amounted to restating basic, historic Catholic doctrine, such as homosexual behavior - sodomy - is immoral and unnatural; the family is the central unit of society; marriage consists of one man and one woman; contraception violates the fundamental purpose of sex, which is procreation; human life is sacrosanct from conception until natural death; and that male and female natures are distinct and different. He has consistently excoriated totalitarianism - both communism and fascism. In short, he opposes the culture of death in all of its malignant forms. No wonder liberals hate him.
Early in his papacy, he criticized radical Islam. Pope Benedict cited a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, pointing out that since its inception, Islam has had periods of violent expansion. For this, …