Newspaper review: Papers react to Pope stepping down


According to the Guardian, Pope Benedict's decision to step down was literally a "bolt from the blue".

The paper's front page photo shows lightning dramatically striking St Peter's basilica in Rome hours after the announcement.

Despite stunning the Roman Catholic Church and taking almost everyone by surprise, the Guardian says Pope Benedict had been planning his departure for months.

Popes - like kings - are not expected to resign and in doing so the Times says Pope Benedict cast aside centuries of tradition.

The Daily Telegraph provides some historical context.

Papal successor

In 1415 Pope Gregory XII stepped aside to heal a schism in the Church. Celestine V left in 1294 to resume the life of a hermetic monk.

Benedict IX left his job in 1045 to hand over the papacy to his godfather in exchange for a handsome sum of gold.

Several papers consider who might succeed Pope Benedict.

"Will the next pope be African?" asks the Daily Mail.

It says Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana - a relatively youthful 64 - is in the running, alongside Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, who is 80.

Choosing a black pope would be historic, but the Financial Times says anyone expecting a radical reformer is likely to be disappointed because the cardinals are deeply conservative.

Lethal mission

Writing in the Daily Express, Ann Widdecombe praises Pope Benedict for ensuring a stable and outward-looking church.

The Times says he has been an outstanding exponent of the claims of faith in an age of scepticism.

But the Independent believes his conservatism on issues such homosexuality and contraception has left the Catholic Church doomed to continue its decline.

The Daily Mirror is among several papers to report details of an interview with the US Navy Seal who shot dead Osama Bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan.

In an interview for Esquire magazine, the man - known only as The Shooter - describes how fired two bullets into the head of the al-Qaeda leader.

The Sun also has the story and reports that in the moments before the shooting, Bin Laden came towards US forces holding his youngest wife, Amal, in front of him.

Romance trends

Elsewhere, the Daily Mail says the "onesie" may have become popular due to celebrity endorsement - but they are apparently a dating disaster.

According to a survey carried out by the British Heart Foundation, wearing a onesie on a first date was very likely to lead result in no second date.

The giant romper suits were listed alongside sandals, string vests and Hawaiian shirts as the least flattering outfits for a romantic night out.

Sticking with romance, the Daily Telegraph says a growing number of couples are using padlocks to show their affection.

In a practice that is thought to have started in Hungary in the 1980s, lovers get their names engraved on a "love lock" and attach it at a significant location - often a bridge - and throw the key away.

The Telegraph says officials in London have been removing the love locks from some places to stop the trend from catching on.

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