French papers slam Vatican spin on Pope's illness

9th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 8 (AFP) - The French Roman Catholic daily La Croix Tuesday cricitised "half-truths" contained in Vatican pronouncements on Pope John Paul II's illness since he was taken to hospital with breathing difficulty.

PARIS, Feb 8 (AFP) - The French Roman Catholic daily La Croix Tuesday cricitised "half-truths" contained in Vatican pronouncements on Pope John Paul II's illness since he was taken to hospital with breathing difficulty.

Meanwhile a leading French newspaper, Le Monde, also weighed in against the "sin of idolatry" surrounding the 84-year-old pope, saying it believed he was now incapable of leading the Catholic Church.

The two papers said the pope's appearance Sunday at the window of Rome's Gemelli hospital for the traditional Sunday Angelus blessing had raised fresh worries.

"Between transparency and opacity, it seems that the most disturbing choice has been made - that of half-truths," said the editor of La Croix, Bruno Frapppat.

"The past week in Rome does not seem to match the response required in respect for the sick, respect for the truth and for the faithful who are being addressed."

The Vatican had set up a communication system to play down the illness, Frappat said.

"But the device backfired on its creators because even if the picture (of the pope at his window) might have been reassuring, the inaudible character of the final blessing ended up having the opposite effect."

Le Monde's religious commentator, Henri Tincq, said "most of the ends of the pontificates have been marked by this stype of idolatry ... with John Paul II the limit has been reached."

"If the scene was set at Gemelli, it did not achieve its goal," he wrote.

"The fiction that this man, at his limits, is still capable of ruling cannot last any longer."

Despite the pope's determination, his power had gradually been transferred to a small number of secretaries and cardinals, Tincq wrote.

"Why not leave him his status of iconic symbol and the right to end his days in peace?" while setting up "collegiate structures" to govern the Church, the commentator suggested.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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