The resignation sets up a struggle between the staunchest conservatives, in Benedict’s mold, who advocate a smaller church of more fervent believers, and those who believe that the church can broaden its appeal in small but significant ways, like allowing divorced Catholics who remarry without an annulment to receive communion or loosening restrictions on condom use in an effort to prevent AIDS. There are no plausible candidates who would move on issues like ending celibacy for priests, or the ordination of women.The problem is a fundamental one -- it's hard to believe the writers of this article on religion are themselves religious. If they are, it is secondary, and not primary to their personalities. They think of politics first, and disregard faith.
Put more bluntly, the time horizon of politics is short: a tweet, a blog entry, a news cycle, an election cycle, the issues of the day, or the issues of a generation. Thus: divorce, condoms, AIDs, celibacy, feminism.
To a real Catholic, the relevant time horizon is eternity. Thus: Christ, the soul, forgiveness of sins, redemption.
Look, the Church is a 2000 year-old institution. Its goals have nothing to do with the ephemera of whether liberals in New York in 2013 think there should be women priests, or think that the Church should "loosen up" on contraception, or think that the Church's doctrine on homosexuality is mean. The Church doesn't care that the faith is dwindling in the West, if it is, because the Church's time horizon extends back before the "West" came into being, and extends long after the "West" will cease to be. The Church wants to bring souls to the eternal Truth. It isn't going to choose a Pope who will change the Truth to fit the times. Or the Times.