first paragraph is a good comparison, and last two help explain, forgot how I received this but to good to delete.
As far as the Church is concerned, I think that there was a period of collective drunkenness, starting with the excesses of good wine with V II itself and continuing with the ocean of vodka of “the spirit of V II”. The top (the Vatican) has sobered down relatively fast and in 1978 sobriety was firmly in charge within the conclave, but there was no courage to eradicate bad habits among the generation of guitar-strumming alcoholics who in the meantime had spread all over Catholicism, starting from the bishops.
What I think is happening is that from above (the Vatican) Chianti Classico is slowly being introduced again, but that it will never establish itself as a habit among those who have spent a life amidst bloody marys and alcopops.
Whilst I think that a bigger effort should be done to kick out some of the worst offenders (the South of England being a point in case), I do understand that there is no great desire at the top to start fights when, as a famous drug addict once said, “time is on our side”.
What the NYT readers might be helped to understand by this article is that as JP II was an improvement on Paul VI and BXVI is a big improvement over JP II, Benedict’s successor will be an improvement on him and will feel free to continue his work of sobering down the trendy masses with greater energy, and his successor more than him. This is what the future will bring and they’ll better get accustomed to the idea now.
I see far brighter days ahead, and the Holy Ghost silently and slowly, but steadily working on the necessary repairs of Peter’s Barque: vocations clearly come from the conservative side and the hippies are utterly despised among the younger faithful, whilst the Anglicans disintegrate worldwide and show once again the destiny of every man made “church”.
In an age of “freedoms”, more and more people discover that what they want is guidance; the Catholic church has never been so well regarded even in the protestant world and nowadays a Protestant President of the United States dares to be present at a Pope’s funeral, his brother a Catholic convert! In time, the Catholic Church will be seen by more and more people as the only alternative, whilst many Protestants drown in an ocean of political correctness making them less and less recognisable as Christians.
If you ask me, the future belongs to conservative Protestants and Catholics. All the others will end like the dinosaurs.