Secrets of the Vatican

Channel 4: Other Films | PBS : Frontline

The inside story of the collapse of the Benedict papacy and the extraordinary challenges facing Pope Francis 

A year ago Francis became Pope, inheriting a Church shocked by the resignation of his predecessor Benedict – the first resignation of a Pope in six hundred years.

Secrets of the Vaticantells the epic, story of the collapse of the Benedict papacy and illuminates the extraordinary challenges facing Pope Francis as he tries to root out corruption and chart a new course for the troubled Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers.

It tells a story of crime, corruption and cover-up at the heart of the Catholic Church, with political intrigue, allegations of financial corruption and sexual hypocrisy laid bare through first-hand testimony from those who were close to the scandals, or who now are helping Pope Francis reform the Church.

The Church was already mired in the child sex abuse scandal when Benedict first became pope, and it would go on to dominate his papacy. More scandal was to come from other quarters, involving allegations of money-laundering through the Vatican bank, and corruption inside Vatican departments.

As the aging Pope’s health deteriorated he was hit by a string of damaging news stories, including the release of undercover footage of gay sex parties in Rome attended by priests. The final straw came when his own butler leaked thousands of private documents to the press, exposing the inner workings of the church and revealing power struggles within the Vatican itself.

Now a year into his pontificate, and on the eve of his historic first meeting with President Obama, Pope Francis has dramatically changed the message coming from Rome. But is he strong enough to defeat the forces that overwhelmed his predecessor?

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Secrets of the Vatican, Channel 4: Other Films | PBS : Frontline | Quicksilver Media