Though Benedict XVI traveled widely and tried to promote the growth of Catholicism outside the West, he was nevertheless in many ways a deeply Eurocentric figure, perhaps nowhere more so than in his conviction that radical secularism represents the gravest contemporary challenge to the faith.

But for Catholics in other parts of the world, it sometimes seemed a peculiar fixation. Catholics in Nigeria facing the rise of the militant Boko Haram movement, for example, or Catholics in India struggling with Hindu radicalism, often had a hard time getting worked up over the abstract threat of secular thought. And in Latin America, watching Evangelicals and Pentecostals eat into traditional Catholic strongholds, many Catholics would be equally reluctant to flag the struggle against secularism as job number one.