Thursday, November 11, 2010


In Benedict: Trials of a Pope (BBC2), the Catholic journalist (and former Dominican friar) Mark Dowd, investigated the manifold troubles besetting pope Benedict XVI, by all accounts an enigmatic and often contradictory figure. A native of Bavaria, he was conscripted into the Hitler Youth as a child, spent time as a prisoner of war, and was a progressive thinker and a popular university lecturer, who went on to become the doctrinally conservative Cardinal Ratzinger, otherwise known as God's rottweiler.

Dowd makes clear that he was no fan of the idea of the hardline Ratzinger becoming pope five years ago, but he is scrupulously fair when it comes to unpicking complex issues. His central question is not whether the Catholic church is in crisis – it is – but whether it is fair to blame the pope personally.

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