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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 12/02/2013



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The Pope resigns

A successor for Benedict XVI is to be found by Easter. (© dapd)


In a surprise move, Pope Benedict has announced that he is resigning. Addressing the cardinals in Rome on Monday, he cited his advanced age as the reason for his stepping down on February 28. Some commentators praise Benedict for taking a revolutionary step and showing his human side. Others see the traditionalist's resignation as a chance for reform.

Bild - Germany

Pope shows human side

The tabloid Bild, which published what must be Germany's most famous headline "We're Pope!" at the start of Benedict XVI's papacy, now writes "We're Human": "Benedict admits he's no longer up to the task. 'I have come to the certainty that my strengths, owing to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,' he said in his resignation speech. He doesn't want to muddle along until God redeems his spirit, like his predecessor John Paul II. Benedict wants to give a younger pope the chance to (finally) modernise the Catholic Church. He admits that today's world is 'subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.' And Benedict - that is probably the most important thing - will hear nothing of the 'infallibility of the Pope'. He says: 'I ask pardon for all my defects.' Yesterday's events will force the Catholic Church to tread new ground." (12/02/2013)

La Repubblica - Italy

The end of infallibility

The Pope's resignation is a revolutionary act that will change the power structures within the Church, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica predicts: "The Church is becoming more secular. Up to now, within the Church and among the faithful the Pope was regarded as Christ's representative on Earth. This means according to the First Vatican Council of 1870 that his words, as the words of the 'teacher of all Christians' are infallible in matters of faith and morals. Up to now this infallibility has prevented reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants and between Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church. ... The resignation of Benedict XVI removes this obstacle. ... The consequences of this secularisation will affect the distribution of power within the Church. Parallel to limiting the role of the Pope, the power of the Vatican Council and the synods, or the Bishops' Conferences, will grow." (12/02/2013)

Sme - Slovakia

German traditionalist makes a modern departure

Benedict XVI's decision to end his papacy is testimony to his solid German rationality, the liberal daily Sme notes approvingly: "Even if Pope Benedict has been living in Rome for some time now he remained German in his way of thinking and views. He has a strong sense of responsibility, duty and a desire for functioning institutions. … His decision is the result of rational and practical deliberations. It will enhance his reputation rather than damaging it - in the conservative and progressive sections of the Catholic Church alike, and beyond it. Although he was always considered a traditionalist, his decision almost fits in the category of modern management decisions. Time will tell whether he has set a precedent that won't be repeated so soon or whether Ratzinger the traditionalist has created a new tradition. He has mastered the art of withdrawing when his powers are no longer sufficient to go on." (12/02/2013)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

The intellectual shepherd has failed

Pope Benedict XVI has failed as the preserver of Church tradition, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant writes, hoping for a more modern successor: "As pope, Ratzinger presented himself as an intellectual, and was much more pastoral than people had expected. His messages were far less polemical than those of his predecessor. Benedict saw his task above all in interpreting the Catholic tradition, in the belief that this would lead his critics to arrive at the right insights. And that was precisely his mistake. ... It's a good thing that this Pope has now made room for another. Because despite all his mistakes, the number of Church members hasn't stopped growing - as unlikely as this might seem from a Western European perspective. That calls for new verve. The Church is in a new phase of development, flourishing above all outside Europe. It would be fitting for the next pope to be the symbol - and the face - of this development." (12/02/2013)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

Benedict countered evil in Church

The departing Pope Benedict XVI receives predominantly good marks from the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph: "There have been public relations disasters, notably over the readmission of ultra-traditionalist bishops to the Church, one of whom had Nazi sympathies. But there have been unexpected successes too: not least his remarkable visit to Britain, when his gentle wisdom profoundly touched even sceptics. Always, as with his predecessor, there has been the shadow of the Church's inaction in the face of paedophile scandals. Benedict had the full measure of their wickedness; whether he did enough to prevent them in his earlier role as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith will never be clear, but his detestation of those crimes has never been in doubt." (11/02/2013)

Der Standard - Austria

Resignation a chance for reform

The resignation of Benedict XVI is the first time a pope has voluntarily stepped down in over 700 years. A unique opportunity for the Church to take a progressive line, the left-liberal daily Der Standard writes: "As courageous as this voluntary end to his papacy is, in exercising his office the current Pope lacked courage and progressiveness. He will never be remembered as a reformer and representative of the Enlightenment in the Kantian sense, but as a retro pope. ... Whoever becomes the new head of the Church: the hopes for a more open church, equality between man and woman and a church more in touch with reality will rest on his shoulders. For the Catholic Church this voluntary resignation offers the chance for priests who describe themselves as disobedient to stop moving away from 'their' church; for Christians who were thinking about leaving the Church to revise their decision; for scandals to be dealt with and publicly confronted." (12/02/2013)


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Le Soir - Belgium

Italians between reason and madness

Less than two weeks before Italy's parliamentary elections, the latest polls show former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi rapidly gaining ground against his centre-left rival Pier Luigi Bersani. The Italians must decide between two extremes, the left-liberal daily Le Soir contends: "On one side are two populists: the comedian Beppe Grillo and the businessman turned politician Berlusconi, who together total roughly 45 percent of intended votes. On the other are two reasonable leaders whose charisma levels are all the lower for their trying to take part in the humiliating spectacle of Italian politics. ... In most European countries voters can choose between a for the most part moderate Right and an equally moderate Left. In Italy, the choice is far more cutting-edge: between reason and madness. The Italians have two weeks to decide." (11/02/2013)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Rajoy's fall doesn't help Spain's opposition

The conservative People's Party (PP) led by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has plummeted in the popularity ratings to its lowest level in 20 years. In parliamentary elections it would obtain just 33.5 percent of the vote, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday. But the opposition Socialists have failed to capitalise on the corruption scandal, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias notes: "It is not the austerity measures that are responsible for PP's waning popularity but the corruption scandal plaguing the ruling party. ... Even if Rajoy claims he never received illicit funds, a large proportion of his voters have deserted him. But the biggest surprise is the inability of the opposition Socialists to turn the PP's slump to their own advantage. ... Opposition leader Rubalcaba continues to call for Rajoy's resignation instead of keeping an eye on the communists and other left-wing forces. The dissatisfaction and discrediting of the politicians is pushing voters towards parties that haven't been in government for 30 years." (12/02/2013)

Le Figaro - France

Hollande must admit his electoral lies

French unions are demanding that President François Hollande fulfil his electoral promises and prevent announced factory closures. But it would be better to admit that they were lies and adopt a realistic approach instead, the conservative daily Le Figaro demands: "The head of state must change, take the bull by the horns and pay the price of his electoral campaign. ... He must explain to his dwindling number of friends that globalisation is forcing France to change from the bottom up. Its exemplary social model? It hasn't been exemplary for years, and is now sinking into the abyss and dragging everything with it. Products that are 'Made in France' are outstanding? They were in the past. France is wealthy and tomorrow will be even better? No one believes that any more. It makes no difference that François Hollande led some - socialist and others - to believe the contrary last year. In view of the facts, the president must forget the candidate he once was. He must admit he was wrong and act now." (11/02/2013)

Sydsvenskan - Sweden

Rushed defence policy plan will hurt Sweden

The statement by Commander-in-Chief Sverker Göranson that Sweden could resist a military attack for one week at best has caused a new debate to flare up over Sweden's defence capabilities. The Liberals and Christian Democrats are now demanding more money for the country's defence. The liberal daily Sydsvenskan warns policy makers against hasty decisions: "No doubt all parties will have a chance to make statements on this issue at tomorrow's foreign policy debate in parliament. But statements are just one side of the coin. Decisions on military policy should not be rushed. Furthermore it would be good if they weren't influenced by industrial policy considerations - as they were recently when the government resolved to buy 60 new Gripen fighter jets that will cost 90 billion kronor [roughly 10 billion euros] by 2042." (12/02/2013)


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Irish Examiner - Ireland

Consumers the victims of horsemeat scandal

The scandal over beef products that have been shown to contain horsemeat is spreading. The supermarket chain Tesco announced on Monday that one of its products contained over 60 percent horse meat. Frozen lasagne is being removed from shelves in Germany as a precautionary measure. For the left-liberal daily Irish Examiner the health of consumers has top priority: "The controversy has betrayed alarming commercial recklessness, so nobody should be very surprised if such irresponsibility did not have significant health implications also. This highlights the need for proper labelling of food products. Some of the larger food processors have been able to frustrate labelling practices which would have compelled them to label certain items in red to highlight the prevalence of what some might consider undesirable ingredients. The interests of the consumer should be the paramount consideration." (11/02/2013)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Berlin must support active exchange rate policy

At France's behest the finance ministers of the Eurozone decided at their meeting in Brussels on Monday to seek stable exchange rates at this weekend's G20 summit in Moscow. The liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore urges Germany to support an active exchange rate policy: "For Italy and France, the upper limit for the euro exchange rate is 1.16 and 1.24 to the dollar, respectively, while robust German can handle an exchange rate of up to 1.54. ... However when Italian firms suffer under the burden of a strong euro, purchasing power also dwindles, which is why German exports to Italy went down by 6.3 billion euros last year. A trivial sum for export machine Germany, which with a total export volume of 1.097 trillion euros has a trade surplus of 190 billion euros. But at least this could be a tiny incentive to agree on a common strategy in the exchange rate policy." (12/02/2013)


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Berliner Zeitung - Germany

ECI hinders EU regulating frenzy

The "Right 2 Water" campaign against EU plans to privatise water suppliers has become the first European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) to collect the necessary number of one million signatures. However the latter must come from seven different countries, which so far is not the case. The left-liberal Berliner Zeitung is still delighted to see such an active European public sphere: "So Europe can get moving after all. It's interesting to see that it's not the major European issues like the euro crisis, euro bonds or the EU budget that mobilise people in Europe, but local issues like water. The EU can therefore learn a lesson from the major success of the water initiative. People in Europe take very seriously the European principle of subsidiarity according to which a matter ought to be dealt with at the level directly affected. So the European Commission doesn't need to deal with every little detail. At a local level, people are perfectly capable of understanding for themselves what the priorities are." (12/02/2013)

Standart - Bulgaria

Bulgarians in despair over electricity prices

Tens of thousands of people gathered on the weekend in Bulgaria to protest against the high electricity prices. They set two company cars belonging to the Austrian energy supplier EVN on fire and threw snowballs at Economics Minister Deljan Dobrev. These are signs of utter desperation, the daily Standart writes: "Unlike with the sporadic protests staged so far in which the people expressed their frustration over the electricity rates and called for reforms, this time hungry and completely desperate people are taking to the streets. They are angry. In the middle of the winter, with heating costs already spiralling, they are now facing shockingly high electricity bills. Many of them, particularly the retired, can't even cover their heating bills with their pensions, never mind the electricity bills. ... The Ministry of Finances should take action as quickly as possible and if necessary raise the budget deficit before the whole country is paralysed by hunger protests." (10/02/2013)

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