The Continuing Holy Alliance

Curtsy to our Aussie correspondent, Brett McS, who recognizes grist for my mill when he sees it. This time in the form of "Spengler's" comparison between Bush & Benedict. I don't accept his characterization of Bush's Iraq gambit, but I pass over that for the good stuff. When Bush was in the Vatican last week, the Italian papers quoted disgruntled anonymous members of the Curia supposedly miffed at the warm welcome he received, and on this side of the Big Pond, folks tee-heed at the President's demoting the Pope by referring to him as "Eminence." (Perhaps he genuinely got it wrong, but it seemed more like a Bush-style tease to me, which the Holy Father parlayed into a joke about the Prez's eminent retirement. But I digress.) Few people seem to see --in spite of the obvious simpatico between the two-- what Spengler sees:
It is not only faith, but the temerity to act upon faith, that the pope and the president have in common. In the past I have characterized Benedict's stance as, "I have a mustard seed, and I'm not afraid to use it." (See Ratzinger's mustard seed Asia Times Online, April 5, 2005.) Despite his failings, Bush is a kindred spirit. That is what horrifies their respective critics within the Catholic Church and the American government, who portray the president and the pope as destroyers of civilizational peace. The charge is spurious because there was no civilization peace to destroy, but like many calumnies, it contains an element of truth.
[snip] Here's where it gets interesting:
Benedict XVI may preach against violence, but in his own fashion he takes a tougher stance than the American president. That surely is not the way it looks at first glance. Bush invaded an Arab country, while Benedict preaches reason to the Muslim world, receiving in the past few months Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah as well as delegations from Iran. He has agreed to a meeting with a group of 138 Muslim scholars at the Vatican in November. Why should Muslims fear Benedict?

For the first time, perhaps, since the time of Mohammed, large parts of the Islamic world are vulnerable to Christian efforts to convert them, for tens of millions of Muslims now dwell as minorities in predominantly Christian countries. The Muslim migration to Europe is a double-edged sword. Eventually this migration may lead to a Muslim Europe, but it also puts large numbers of Muslims within reach of Christian missionaries for the first time in history.
He goes on to talk about Chinese evangelicals talking openly about marching toward Jerusalem to re-evangelize. Hmm. That seems a little premature at this point, but this is an interesting observation for those of us inclined to Steynian gloom about demographics:
The European Church may be weak, but no weaker, perhaps, than in the 8th century after the depopulation of Europe and the fall of Rome. An evangelizing European Church might yet repopulate Europe with new Christians as it did more than a millennium ago.
See? I told you the "holy alliance" was still functioning.