by John Bingham, Telegraph
To his many admirers, Pope Benedict has proved to be a persuasive defender of Christian values and a voice of stability in a world where centuries-old certainties about the family, the state and faith have shifted at a dramatic rate.
Pope Benedict's time in office coincided with a decisive shift away from traditional Christian teaching among many European nations, vividly illustrated by recent moves to legalise gay marriage in Britain and France and bans on crosses in the workplace and on prayers in council meetings.
It was Benedict, during his visit to Britain in 2010, who first warned of the threat of "aggressive secularism" to these traditional values, and it came to be a phrase that many others, including David Cameron, proved eager to endorse.
In the UK, Benedict will be best remembered for that historic 2010 visit, which had a galvanising effect on British Catholics, and made strides toward reconciliation between the Papacy, the Anglican Church and the British crown over differences dating back to the 1530s.
It was a process perhaps best symbolised by the moment he joined the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in Westminster Abbey praying at the tomb of Edward the Confessor, an English king and a Catholic saint.
He also founded the Personal Ordinariate, the new branch of the Catholic Church set up for breakaway Anglicans.
While Pope Benedict was a disappointment to reformists in the Catholic Church, he was a champion of conservatives. He reintroduced the once-defunct Latin Mass and fiercely opposed gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia.
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