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Paper Monitor

09:45 UK time, Friday, 17 September 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

One story dominates all others: the kicking-off of Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the UK.

Consequently, Paper Monitor is rebranded, for one day only, as Papal Monitor.

With so much Roman Catholic protocol to explain, the coverage is deeply educational.
The Daily Telegraph tells us that the pontiff is keen on buffalo mozzarella cheese. Many of the papers point out that his aircraft is officially known as "Shepherd One". And the Daily Mirror says his red shoes symbolise the blood of martyrs.

Each paper, of course, has its own take on the success or otherwise of the visit.

For the Daily Telegraph, it was a "once in a lifetime experience", an "unabashed celebration of Catholicism" as a crowd of 65,000 gathered in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park.

The Daily Mail notes with approval the Pope's warning about the dangers of "aggressive forms of secularism". Its leader says this is a message that will "strike a chord with many of us".

Aggressive secularists might prefer the coverage in the Independent, which on its front page highlights the Church's abuse scandals and asks whether the Pope's message is "doomed to fall on stony ground".

Not every paper is so ponderous. The Sun, as usual, refers to the man formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger by the title "Papa Ratzi"; its main story leads off on the revelation that he drank Fanta while meeting the Queen.

The Times, likewise, despatches its chief rock critic Pete Paphides to review the open-air Mass in Glasgow as though it were a Coldplay gig. "Like Bono," Paphides deadpans, the Pope "certainly knows a thing or two about making an entrance".

Interestingly, the paper which takes the visit most seriously is not any of the heavies but the red-top, left-of-centre Daily Mirror.

Aware that its core readership in the north-west of England will contain a goodly proportion of RCs, it devotes no fewer than seven pages to the visit, including op-eds from the likes of Edward Stourton, Peter Tatchell and Rev Richard Coles.

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