A shocking morning: the Pope announced his retirement. It is the first time that a Pope renounces in more than 600 years.

Contrary to popular opinion, I liked Benedict XVI. His statement about Islam was right on the money, even if he backtracked later, and he spoke forcefully against the relativism of modern times. He seemed an honest man facing unprecedented issues and unrelenting media attacks. Just read right now the delighted response of progressives to the announcement.

He alleged health problems for his decision, and there is no reason to speculate otherwise. He is after all an 84 year old man, and traveling through the world at that age performing massive ceremonies certainly take its toll.

Still, that leaves the Catholic Church with a problem. The forces that seek to liberalize it (that is, to end it) will probably see his resignation as a victory, and push for a black pope, or a gay pope, or for a pope that favors gay marriage, abortion and female priests. It is the Church’s task to find a worthy successor, younger and perhaps even stronger than Benedict in his defense of traditionalism.

I am a lapsed Catholic, and I am not really a follower of the doctrine, but I like the idea of a strong Church that works as a balance against the exaggerations of secular hedonism. While the easiest way would be to bend down, I really don’t see any role for a Church that adapts itself to modern times. If even the Catholic Church changes to accommodate itself to current prejudices, then there is no reason for it to exist, we might as well just create the Church of Liberalism and get done with it.