John Micklethwait Explores the Modern Catholic Church

John Micklethwait is Editor-in-Chief of The Economist. Before that he edited the US section of the newspaper (1999 - 2006) and ran the New York Bureau for two years, having edited the Business Section of the newspaper for the previous four years. His other roles have included setting up The Economist's office in Los Angeles, where he worked from 1990 - 1993 and being Media Correspondent. He has covered business and politics from the United States, Latin America, Continental Europe, Southern Africa and most of Asia. He is a frequent broadcaster and has appeared on CNN, ABC News, BBC and NPR. He is the co-author of "The Witch Doctors", "A Future Perfect: the Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation" and "The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea" and "The Right Nation", a study of conservatism in America, with Adrian Wooldridge, also an Economist journalist.
  • Transcript


Quesion: Is the Catholic church in crisis?

Micklethwait:    I think Benedict is an interesting figure, to the extent that he seems to be interested in the idea of a kind of smaller, more vibrant, more hardcore church.  That seems to be things that he’s aiming for and there’s a concept which people use sometimes in talking about the European Union of a 2 speed Union where you have an internal bit of, you know, within the European Union aside from the fact that the Germans and Belgians, all are kind of pushing together total integration and then you’ll have a 2nd speed of like the British who, sort of, like bits of the European Union but not the whole thing.  And actually if you apply that to Catholicism and I know it’s something of a stretch from one to the other, I think that’s pretty much what Benedict seems to be aiming for, he definitely wants a sort of more Evangelical Charismatic and quite tough minded Catholicism at the center and then he wants a variety of  them of sort fellow travelers around the outside but his focus is going to be on that little bit I think and you could argue that as with the book, we don’t make judgments within The Economist, we do… you know, we couldn’t argue the stuff he said about contraception in Africa totally sort of fits that.