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LONDON — The best defense is a good offense. A less worldly pope, making a state visit to Britain as the revelations about Catholic priests and bishops abusing the children in their care spread across Europe, might have been reduced to shame and silence. But Benedict XVI knows about the uses of power — he was the late Pope John Paul II’s chief enforcer — and he immediately launched an attack on all the people he sees as the church’s enemies.

Speaking in Scotland the week before last, he condemned “aggressive forms of secularism” and the threat of “atheist extremism.” Never mind the hundreds or thousands of priests who raped little boys (and occasionally little girls). The real threat is the people who don’t believe in God, and therefore have no morals. He even equated atheists with Nazis.

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