Carla Bruni attacks Pope Benedict XVI over Catholic birth control ban
The Church’s teachings make her feel ‘profoundly secular’
First Lady Carla Bruni has risked the ire of the French establishment by having a dig at the Pope for his stance on birth control. Born and raised a Roman Catholic, she even says that the Church's teachings have left her feeling "profoundly secular".
Bruni's key complaint is that Pope Benedict's strict line on the use of contraceptives is proving damaging in Africa. This follows the Pope's remark during an Africa tour in March - six months after Bruni and her husband Nicolas Sarkozy met Benedict in Rome (pictured) - when he said that the Aids pandemic could "not be resolved with the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, there is the risk of increasing the problem".
Bruni, in an interview with the French women's magazine Femme Actuelle, said: "In Africa it's often Church people who look after sick people. It's astonishing to see the difference between the theory and the reality. I think the Church should evolve on this issue."
Although there is a clear separation of church and state in France, conservative commentators are shocked at Bruni's remarks. Andre Roux, a constitutional historian, said: "It's unprecedented for a first lady to criticise the Pope.
"Charles de Gaulle's wife was very Catholic and would never had taken up position, remaining very discreet. The same was true of Bernadette Chirac, who never gave her opinion on religion or international affairs.
"Even Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of François Mitterrand who was not a believer and aired her political views, never attacked the Pope."
It is possible the ordinary French people will look more kindly on Bruni, however. A recent poll among French Catholics showed 43 per cent actually wanted the Pope to stand down because of his stance against the use of contraceptives in Africa. ·
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