"Early on, I decided to deviate from what might be expected of me. Instead of a ruthless Christopher Hitchens-style evisceration of Benedict XVI, I opted for a more subtle approach – and a degree of open-mindedness. I was ready to confound my own preconceptions. And I did, in some respects. I discovered that when he was plain Joseph Ratzinger, the pope was an inspiring, popular university lecturer. He initially supported the liberalising Second Vatican Council. But he was traumatised by the student protests of the late 1960s. His fear of chaos and revolution turned him into a conservative who believed that authority and tradition must be preserved at all cost."It sounds well worth tuning in to – if you can't watch it tonight, it'll be on 4 On Demand after the broadcast.
Of course, it's hard to keep up with all the Pope-related content in the media at the moment, but we'll do our best over the course of the week to bring you some of our favourites. (And when he's gone home, we'll be ready for a break from His Holiness). So in that spirit, here are three of our favourites from today:
- The Guardian's interactive guide to the Papal Visit. Discover how many Popes have stepped foot in Britain (there was once an English Pope, y'know), where he's playing (if he was our favourite band or comedian, we'd be very disappointed with the lack of venues) and why he's so controversial.
- Carol Vorderman will introduce the Pope at the big Hyde Park event on Saturday. As one reader on Twitter quipped, "two vows and a Protestant please, Carol...".
- Martin Robbins, who writes the Lay Scientist blog on the Guardian site, suggests the Vatican may be scraping the barrel with the miracle attributed to Cardinal Newman, whose beatification is a major reason for the Papal Visit. It seems someone recovering from a bad back is enough to earn a man his sainthood these days...