I have no desire to bash Catholicism, nor any other religion, but unpleasant people like Cardinal Ratzinger make it into something of a duty, especially when they say things like this:
Negative birth rates and immigration are changing Europe's ethnic make-up. Above all we've gone from being a Christian culture to one of aggressive secularism which at times is intolerant.
I have to confess that I, too, dislike "aggressive secularism." And all other forms of aggressive proseletyzing. And intolerance, too. But I think that we have a long, long way to go before liberal secularism approaches the Vatican's historical record of aggression and intolerance. What I find disturbing here is the Church's increasingly plaintive tone of self-pity at its alleged weakness and helplessness. It's not at all edifying, especially coming from people whose earthly power includes the ability to control the most private aspects of people's lives, and whose adherents' misuse of that power includes sexually abusing children.
And though I'm sure it's impolite to say so, I also find Ratzinger's complaints about Europe's "changing ethnic make-up" to be kind of repulsive. The last time I checked, the word "Catholic" meant "universal." The Catholic Church has never had a problem with sailing over the briny deep and setting up shop in heathen lands - no matter how unwelcome they were - so I'm not convinced they have any grounds for complaint when the heathen masses show up on their doorstep.
Ratzinger's comments are part of a distressing new trend, in which people who wield the most incredible power complain that they're being persecuted by all and sundry.