Kathryn Lopez

"The 37 percent seems to confirm the stories that abound of Catholic women who went to Mass every week for years and to confession regularly, but never heard that contraception is wrong. Similarly, how many Catholics have gone through (extensive marriage prep in the Church) by never heard word one about the Church's teaching on sexuality or family planning," she said. "Or perhaps (they) heard some general teachings, and then, with a wink, were told to follow their consciences, with no further guidance about forming their consciences."

A cover story in glossy New York magazine recently dared to question the good of the birth-control pill based on the damage it had wrought on women's lives and bodies. The one institution that proposes a radically different way might just have something to offer the world -- if it only taught it and lived it.

Pope Benedict has been a teacher, first and foremost, reintroducing a proposal that Christ himself offered. Men and women living in service for love of God are good to have around. Enough with the campaign for less Catholicism in the Catholic Church. How about a welcome mat for a good and faithful shepherd who, with confidence and humility, speaks with clarity about the teachings of the Catholic Church, "proposing the good news of Jesus Christ to a disenchanted world," as George Weigel puts it in his book "Evangelical Catholicism."

The disenchanted are everywhere, even in the pews. And they want to be fed, they want to be engaged, they want to be transformed. They don't want more of the same misery omnipresent in the secular world. The world doesn't need a Gospel of misery but of hope. The Church has it, and we should expect the next pope to teach on, infused with a generous and contagious spirit of engagement.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.