... otherwise known as The Pope. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
First, let me link to this post from some years back, in which I take the Church to task rather sternly.
This a characteristically fine Bryan Appleyard piece. My only quibble would be to the use of the term conservative. I am often thought to be conservative, but my socio-political thinking is very much the product of that Catholic social teaching Bryan refers to. The foundations of that teaching are the principle of subsidiarity and what Chesterton and Belloc called Distributism. Together these address two main problems of society: the concentration of wealth and the concentration of power by suggestion that both wealth and power should be as widely dispersed as possible -- and not by a top-down redistribution of wealth (which would merely amount to the sole concentration of wealth and power in the state.
I would also demur regarding the references to liturgy. The English vernacular Mass has been a disgrace from the start: willfully mistranslated, hopelessly tin-eared, and doctrinally obtuse. The Tridentine Mass represents the culmination of a liviing tradition; the Novus Ordo is a jerry-built monstrosity. And Pope Benedict knows this: He studied with Romano Guardini, a pioneer in liturgical reform, a clear thinker and fine writer as well as a good priest. You want a religious service that makes you sense that you are part of a vital 2,000-year-old tradition? Attend the sung traditional Mass at my parish some Sunday at noon.