Follow-up to Kebabs, Creole, Gumbo, Pan-Fried, Deep-Fried, Stir-Fried: Loyal TRZ readers may recall two posts I wrote some time ago attempting to present the economic case for why Europe has such lousy religious participation especially in comparison to the United States. The heart of my explanation, though not explicitly articulated as such, was that Europe has a supply-side problem with respect to religion--namely, that European governments have policies in place which actively discourage those who would wish to "supply" Europe with more religion. Competition would align the interest of the producer with the consumer, but because entry on the supply-side has been barricaded and a government-sponsored oligopoly allowed to operate largely free of competition, European religion has not concerned itself with the needs and desires of its parishioners as has been the case in America, where religion has to compete for converts (and their money) in order to survive. As a result, religion has become increasingly less relevant for new generations of Europeans, who view religion as a sort of impersonal public service.
Happily I can now report that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (blessings and peace be upon his name) agrees with me:
The optimists point out that Europe's churches are roughly as full as America's were before the First Amendment separated church from state. Hence the importance of the current pope. One rumour is that Benedict XVI would prefer a smaller but more vibrant Catholic church in Europe. In Germany he is said to have argued privately against the churches' lavish state funding.
Given that the Pope is the infallible intercessor of Almighty God, I think we can consider the matter settled, can we not?