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John Micklethwait is Editor-in-Chief of The Economist. Before that he edited the US section of the newspaper (1999 - 2006) and ran the New York Bureau for two years, having[…]

John Micklethwait on Pope Benedict XVI.

Quesion: Is the Catholic church in crisis?

Micklethwait:    I think Benedict is an interesting figure, to the extent that he seems to be interested in the idea of a kind of smaller, more vibrant, more hardcore church.  That seems to be things that he’s aiming for and there’s a concept which people use sometimes in talking about the European Union of a 2 speed Union where you have an internal bit of, you know, within the European Union aside from the fact that the Germans and Belgians, all are kind of pushing together total integration and then you’ll have a 2nd speed of like the British who, sort of, like bits of the European Union but not the whole thing.  And actually if you apply that to Catholicism and I know it’s something of a stretch from one to the other, I think that’s pretty much what Benedict seems to be aiming for, he definitely wants a sort of more Evangelical Charismatic and quite tough minded Catholicism at the center and then he wants a variety of  them of sort fellow travelers around the outside but his focus is going to be on that little bit I think and you could argue that as with the book, we don’t make judgments within The Economist, we do… you know, we couldn’t argue the stuff he said about contraception in Africa totally sort of fits that.