Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Paris Motor Show gets into gear

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Between darkness and fear: bombs rain down in Aleppo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shimon Peres: From Hawk to Dove

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Shimon Peres, 'a man of many faces'

Read more

THE DEBATE

The Legacy of Shimon Peres: The last of Israel's founding generation (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

The Legacy of Shimon Peres: What's left of the Oslo Accords? (part 2)

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ex-CIA director 'very worried' by prospect of Trump presidency

Read more

FACE-OFF

Migrant crisis: A political football in France?

Read more

FOCUS

Will France repatriate its collection of 19th century Algerian skulls?

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

2016-09-28 Algeria

Will France repatriate its collection of 19th century Algerian skulls?

Today we report on a little-known chapter of the French conquest of Algeria: the Algerian fighters shot and beheaded in the mid-19th century for resisting French colonialism....

Read more

2016-09-27 civil rights

Video: 'Buy Black' movement gains momentum in US

In the US city of Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., a group of residents have started a "Buy Black" movement, inspired by the civil rights struggle. These...

Read more

2016-09-26 Libya

FRANCE 24 exclusive: The last stand for Libya’s Oil Crescent

While filming a report about a militia leader allied with the internationally recognised Libyan government in Tripoli, FRANCE 24 journalists witnessed the takeover of a key oil...

Read more

2016-09-23 UK

The battle for UK Labour’s leadership

D-Day is fast approaching for the embattled leader of Britain's Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn. Just a year ago, the election of this radical London MP brought about a sharp swing...

Read more

2016-09-22 Vietnam

Vietnam's communist regime embraces capitalism, foreign investment

Critics say it's a country ruled by a communist regime which stifles any kind of political opposition. On the other hand, Vietnam has chosen to embrace a market economy, and...

Read more