Douthat wrote quite the Op-Ed piece in the Nytimes last week which argued that darker motivations lay behind Pope Benedict’s move to create a special Anglican-rite institution within the Catholic Church, suggesting that it was a way to circle the wagons against the growing strength of Islam, the “foe” of all Christians in Europe. To support his argument he juxtaposed statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in support of some sort of possibility for the application of Shari’a law in Britain with Benedict’s Reggensburg address. I found it interesting that this week also saw the Italian Bishop’s Conference go on the record in favor of Islamic public religious education for Muslim immigrants. The Italian Catholic Church, which could hardly be characterized as a hotbed of liberals and which long enjoyed the exclusive privileges of educating Catholic doctrine to all Italian school children for one hour a week (l’ora di religione) has consistently come out in support of the political and spiritual rights of Muslim immigrants in Italy, offending both the right and the left in the process. While Benedict is certainly keen on reminding secular, liberal and socialist Europeans of their need to recognize their Christian roots, he also seems to be finding common cause with people of other religious faiths interested in reframing the role of religion in the public sphere and renewing its importance. Not exactly the treatment of someone you would suspect is circling the wagons.