Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Can Made In France save French fashion?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'No weddings, no funerals in North Korea so Kim Jong-un can party'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Cash crisis brews in Zimbabwe

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Hollande, the lucky president

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

South African demonstrators set 17 schools ablaze in Limpopo

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Photo of woman standing up to neo-Nazis goes viral

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Polls show Sanders would beat Trump by 'at least 14%'

Read more

THE DEBATE

UK local elections: Sadiq Khan, Zac Goldsmith face off in battle for London (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

UK local elections: Sadiq Khan, Zac Goldsmith face off in battle for London (part 2)

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Latest update : 2010-04-20

Pope Benedict XVI, five years on

Today, Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating the fifth anniversary of his papacy. These have been a bumpy five years. The Vatican’s relations with Muslim and Jewish communities are tense. The pope is often seen as an ultra-conservative leader because of his positions on homosexuality or the use of condoms. And the latest evidence of decades of cover-up of sexual abuse by priests threatens to undermine his moral authority...

On April 19th- 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected to succeed the popular John Paul II.

The task ahead is difficult for this theologian, who prefers the solitude of his Vatican study to large crowds.

"First, we have a man who was not prepare to become Pope”, says Antoine-Marie Izoard, directeur of I.Media, a news agency specialized on the Vatican. “He accepted it with humility, that’s what he says.”

“He is a shy man, reserved, not one that is naturally attracted by crowds, but he has learnt slowly to ‘do the Pope’ as we said at the start of his pontificate. So, obviously he suffers from the comparison with his Polish predecessor, who was very charismatic. I see him as a Pope for the Interior rather than a Pope for the outside as was John Paul."

Pope Benedict decides to reunify the Church and return to the fundamentals of the Catholic faith.

But over the last five years, this Pope from the interior is faced by never-ending crisis with the outside world.

The Vatican’s relations with Muslim and Jewish communities are tense.

His controversial statement in Africa against the use of condoms claiming they actually increase the risk of Aids, made him sound like an ultra-conservative leader.

And the latest evidence of decades of cover up of sexual abuse by priests, threatens to undermine his moral authority.

"Certainly historians will talk about that because we have never seen anything like this within the Church for a long time”, believes Patrick Valdrini, rector of the Church San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome’s historic centre.

“What strikes me a lot is his spirituality. I observed him during the Easter celebrations… He is someone who is suffering deeply in this crisis.”

“There are certainly unfair allegations made against him on the pedophilia problem. He has had an uncompromising attitude, maybe more so than others within the Church and his entourage."

Many clergymen feel powerless in the face of these scandals. Because according to them, Benedict is a modern Pope, who wants to reach out to the faithful. But the public sees little of that. Due to bad communication and, possibly, a backward group of advisors, the gap with the outside world is widening.

"Either the Catholic Church keeps a hard line, something it has a tendancy to do today, and I believe that the gap will keep on widening”, says Philippe Massicot, a tourist visiting the Vatican with his family. “Or it will decide to adapt more to the modern world, and in that case it will probably be able to bring back some of the faithful.”

Yet, there are still huge crowds visiting the Vatican every day. Many faithful travelling to Rome, like one group of Poles we met, are defiant and believe that the Pope is essentially the victim of a media campaign. That the Church can be hurt, but not destroyed.

By Alexis MASCIARELLI

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-05-05 Turkey

On the trail of US-exiled cleric Gulen, arch enemy of Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once had a staunch ally in Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. But the relationship between the two men soured to the extent that the...

Read more

2016-05-04 United Arab Emirates

Gulf states starting to feel the pinch of cheap oil

Gulf countries have lost billions of dollars because of the fall in oil prices. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates all now need to cut spending and find...

Read more

2016-05-03 Austria

Migrants: Austria building fence on border with Italy

Austria has begun building a fence and checkpoints on its border with Italy in a bid to keep migrants out. Following the closure of the Balkan route, Vienna fears that this...

Read more

2016-05-02 Hezbollah

Lebanon pays price for conflict between Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah

Since the start of the year, relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have taken a turn for the worse. The crisis began when Lebanon refused to sign an Arab League declaration...

Read more

2016-04-29 Libya

Libya: Who's running the country?

The EU is mulling military operations in Libya to help shore up the new national unity government. The man at the head of this fragile, UN-backed coalition is Prime Minister...

Read more