A factor in Benedict's prompt election, no doubt, was the homily he gave on the eve of the conclave, a warning against relativism, the notion that there is no fixed truth. Relativism is different from heresy or infidelity, because the heretic and the non-Catholic can believe there is objective truth, even if they differ with the Catholic Church about what truth is.
Catholic teaching has long condemned what it calls "indifferentism," the idea that as between faiths, it does not matter what one chooses.
Elie Wiesel, no Catholic for sure, and not even one whom I particularly admire, is quoted as having said:
The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
Although Europe today no doubt contains many faithful, as witness the outpouring upon John Paul II's passing, they are a remnant. The hordes of those indifferent to faith are larger, and the hordes of those with quite another faith, Islam, are growing daily.
A generation ago, we were told the world was on the cusp of overpopulation leading to starvation. The "enlightened" excoriated the Church because its teachings on marriage, family, birth control and abortion supposedly abetted the "Population Bomb."
Today, without the lead poisoning that is supposed to have sterilized the Roman upper class, the European homelands of Western Christianity are emptying, even as the historic Muslim enemies of Christianity rush in to fill the vaccum.
There are many explanations for the decline in fertility, but no doubt one is the loss of faith and the flight from a Jewish and Christian concept of sexuality and family to a secular, individualistic morality that sees sexuality not as an act of creation and love, but as a pleasant sort of sneeze.
Against this view Benedict's teaching, the traditional Catholic teaching, stands. Whether any form of Christian faith, or even devotion to the search for scientific truth, will survive this era of indifference and Islamization, stands in question.
That Benedict stands against the relativism and indifferentism of post-Modern Europe is to his credit. That's his job. The world shall see how he and the Church answer the question of its survival and Europe's.