• With: Kim Strassel, James Freeman, Dan Henninger, Mary Kissel

    So, Dan, what's Benedict's most important legacy?

    HENNINGER: I think that Benedict's most important legacy was the one that he was working on as Cardinal Ratzinger, which was to make sure that Vatican II, the greatest event of the last hundred of years was properly understand --

    GIGOT: The Second Vatican Council.

    HENNINGER: The Second Vatican Council. At which it got to the point where it was creating a kind of "roll your own" Catholicism and people were making up whatever they thought it should be. And Ratzinger and Benedict wanted to clarify that it really was rooted in the traditions of the Catholic Church. And it was trying to bring them up to date. And I --


    GIGOT: Engage in the modern world --

    HENNINGER: Engage in the --


    GIGOT: -- but still on traditional Catholics terms.


    KISSEL: After all, this was the pope that got on Twitter the first time. It wasn't all about the past. It was also about the future. He did a lot of outreach, for example, to China's Catholics. He traveled a lot, which we didn't expect for a pope of his age. And he also started to tackle some of the more difficult scandals of the church, such as the child abuse cases.

    GIGOT: So what should the church to be looking for? What do you expect the cardinals to look for in the next pope, Mary?

    KISSEL: Well, I hope they look for a pope that can reinvigorate the church in the places it's really ailing, namely Europe and the United States. If you look at the top-10 Catholic countries in the world now, they include places like Brazil, the Philippines, Poland and Eastern Europe and Congo, whereas the United States, our Catholic population is about a quarter of the United States. It would be in decline if it weren't for immigrants.

    GIGOT: And in Europe, the churches are essentially museums.


    GIGOT: I mean, they're empty, except for the American tourists.

    So what -- do they need a pope -- does the Catholic church need a pope who can identify what might be done for Catholicism in the West where it's declining, or maybe get a pope who can address where it's active and growing, and play to that strength?

    HENNINGER: I think the 171 cardinals who are going to concave will have a very difficult choice, Paul. If the idea is they have to work on a pope who can protect Christians in the Middle East or in China, then they want a highly political leader, a politician as pope. On the other hand, if they want a pope who can invigorate the church in Europe, in the West, and Africa, where it's growing, then they want a strong spiritual leader. That's going to be a difficult combination for them to put together.

    GIGOT: But you also made a point this week on our TV show and in our discussions that they need somebody who can also administer a Vatican bureaucracy, which doesn't often implement what pope at the top level really wants to accomplish, because it's so hide bound and insular that it can't engage with the broader world.

    HENNINGER: And that's why I think they probably need a pope with political skills who can drive the bureaucracy.

    GIGOT: So that would suggest somebody who's younger, more vigorous, can do more than one thing, not just a spiritual leader, Mary?

    KISSEL: I was just going to say that. I think they need to look for somebody younger. And you talk about the scandals and the problems with the bureaucracy, there's a litany of them, from the child abuse cases to Vati-leaks, to the bank, the Vatican Bank, which had a lot of trouble.

    I mean, personally, I'd love to see Cardinal Timothy Dolan, from New York, although, I don't think he has much of a shot for the job, unfortunately.

    GIGOT: Born in the wrong country, unfortunately. They don't want a super-power cardinal to be pope necessarily.

    KISSEL: But, boy, that would be fun.

    GIGOT: That would be fun.

    I think, focusing on the persecution of Catholics in the Muslim world and in China, is also a big part of the next pope's agenda.

    We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.


    GIGOT: Time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week.

    Kim, first to you.

    STRASSEL: A miss to the Sierra Club, which, this week, for the first time in its 120-year history, officially engaged in an act of civil disobedience, protesting the Keystone Pipeline in front of the White House and getting two of its top members arrested. There was a time, Paul, when the Sierra Club was a thoughtful contributor to the debate over conservation of public lands, but they have these days adopted an environmentalism that's so extreme and so militant that there is not any room in it for the private development of the economy and jobs. I think the original founders of the Sierra Club would be appalled.

    GIGOT: All right, Kim.


    FREEMAN: Big miss to the International Olympic Committee, Paul, for dropping wrestling.

    GIGOT: This could be a weekly miss --



    FREEMAN: This is the miss of the year, if not the millennium. It's dropping wrestling from the Olympic, a foundational sport, man's oldest sport, while it's keeping badminton, ping-pong, synchronized swimming. Synchronized swimming's main contribution is to create the fodder for "Saturday Night Live" skits.