The pope will soon leave for his first trip abroad. It will be in Koln, Germany, where he will meet young catholics from all over the world. Before leaving, he also gave his first interview on Radio Vaticana. This is an interesting test for the bavarian pope. Firstly, the comparison with Wojtila will be immediate. The polish pope was a good communicator, especially with young people. Ratzinger has not showed any particular propensity to do so. His intellectual attitude to several problems may not turn to his advantage.
In particular, he seems to be obsessed with the theme of the christian roots of Europe. In short, he equates what he calls european decadence to the lack of recognition for christian roots. His argument is peculiar: he claims that Europe achieved great things in the past because of its deep christian roots. Now that christian roots are more fragile, Ratzinger says, Europe is not lively anymore. It is difficult to understand the value of this argument. The problem is that there is no evidence as to the contribution of christian roots to the great achievements in Europe. If anything, common wisdom indicates that great scientifi discoveries have always been opposed by the Church (Take Galileo Galilei, for example). Moreover, the Church has always exercised an unhealthy monopoly of knowledge. Latin was one of the instrument through which the monopoly was exercised.
As far as the decadence of Europe is concerned, I would not attribute any great importance to the lack of christian roots. Or very simply, I am not able to see what these roots would add to the process of European integration. On this point, please read the article Srdjan and I wrote for the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 'Does Europe need Christian Values?'