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Last Updated: Monday, 25 April, 2005, 04:26 GMT 05:26 UK
European press review

There is abundant and mostly positive comment from Pope Benedict XVI's homeland on his inaugural mass at the Vatican.

In France, a solemn Turko-Armenian anniversary is linked to the ongoing campaign for the European Constitution referendum, while from Hungary comes an envious look at the chapter on health in one British party's election manifesto.

Pope's first public mass

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung says Pope Benedict XVI crowned a good first week with a good homily during yesterday's pontifical mass.

"In his first short week in office, Benedict XVI has done everything right, and what is more, he has done it really well," comments the paper.

The paper notes that many in St Peter's Square applauded the Pope during his inaugural homily, which it says was designed to lift the spirit of Catholics.

"So this is a beginning which proves right those who suspected that Joseph Ratzinger would surprise many critics and sceptics," it concludes.

There was no sign of a reactionary or a fundamentalist
Die Welt

Die Welt agrees that Benedict XVI managed to confound the critics who had predicted he would use his homily to attack society and the state. As the paper sees it, the new pontiff "disappointed such expectations brilliantly" by delivering "a perfectly normal sermon".

"So once again there was no sign of a reactionary or a fundamentalist," it remarks.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes that one of the Pope's insignia, the woollen "pallium" or shawl draped around his shoulders during the mass, took a form which emphasized his appeal for Christian unity.

"It was not the kind of pallium used by popes in the modern era," the paper points out, "rather it was intended to recall the first millennium, when Christendom was not divided between East and West, and even less between the Catholic Church and many reformation churches."

Expanding on the theme of unity in the Holy Father's address, the French L'Express points to an opinion poll showing that 49 per cent of France's practising Catholics hope the Pope will "further the cause of reconciliation among all Christians".

Benedict XVI kept the wide world of Islam out of the picture
El Pais

"Despite Benedict XVI's mollifying homily in his first pontifical mass," the paper remarks, "they are likely to have to wait."

The Spanish El Pais sees what it calls "a major effort" on the Pope's part to shed Cardinal Ratzinger's image of "Cerberus of the faith" - a reference to the three-headed dog which according to Greek mythology guards the gates of Hell.

The paper comments, however, that while "speaking strongly for dialogue with the Jewish faith", Pope Benedict XVI "kept the wide world of Islam out of the picture".

The Pontiff declared that "only through the Catholic Church will the modern world be able to stop fearing the wolves", the paper notes. But he "has yet to say who the wolves are".

Turkey's EU woes

With Turkey's bid for EU membership being a major EU referendum issue, Paris' Le Monde notes that President Jacques Chirac, for the first time in his ten years in office, attended a ceremony held in Paris by the Armenian community to mark the 90th anniversary of what the paper calls the 1915 "genocide" of Armenians by Turkish troops.

President Chirac, it remarks, "was accompanied by the President of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, who chose the symbolic date to spend a few days in France".

Turkey must admit that certain things are non-negotiable

Liberation also considers the significance of the occasion, saying that "remembrance of this dark episode has a bearing on Europe because the anniversary has come up during the referendum campaign".

"In putting forward its bid for EU membership," it argues, "Turkey must admit that certain things are non-negotiable".

The paper points out that in the process of building Europe other EU members have owned up to past misdeeds, and therefore asking the Turks to do the same towards the Armenians is merely "to treat them like everyone else, as they themselves have demanded".

Hungarian health complaints

After two patients died in a Hungarian hospital as a result of suspected malpractice, Budapest's Nepszabadsag draws attention to what Hungarians call "gratitude money", often handed out in advance "in hope of better treatment", the paper reports.

What undermines the public's trust in the country's health system, the paper argues, is not so much medical malpractice as this moral malpractice.

"And those who are supposed to heal this ailing health system choose to take no notice of it," it complains.

The paper contrasts this state of affairs with the section on health care in the British Labour Party's election manifesto which, it notes, "contains several paragraphs on how to enhance respect for the patients' dignity".

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.


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