When Pope Benedict shook the Vatican by going against half a millenia’s tradition to resign in 2013, there was no protocol for what came next. Instead of disappearing into seclusion he stayed within the hallowed walls and still comments on church affairs. Which will make life tricky for his polar opposite the present Pope Francis.
This was the focus for Anthony McCarten’s stage play turned into a soon-to-be-streamed Netflix bio-pic The Two Popes (see post November 4 2019) with Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce has also been turned into a book, launched now to spice up the premiere. In it, the conflicting characters of the two popes are laid bare. Benedict is a Bavarian-born intellectual theologian with little pastoral experience, who moulded much of the policies of Pope John Paul’s administration and became known as ‘God’s rottweiler’ for his crackdown on liberal ideas. According to McCarten, he tightened the church’s rules about disclosure of child abusing priests which led to even greater secrecy and cover up; and tripped into a Holocaust denier scandal which raised questions about his own attitudes having been born a few miles from Dachau and the Vatican’s Nazi connections during WW11. Benedict: 16 April 1927 4.15 am Marktl, Germany.
Francis, known as the ‘slum bishop’ was appalled by the poverty he saw ministering in Argentina, is more flexible about his tolerances and lives simply. Though the book raises questions about his association with the Argentina junta during the dirty war of the late 1970s/early 1980s with tens of thousands ‘disappeared.’ Francis: 17 December 1936 9pm Buenos Aires, Argentina.
There’s no doubt they do clash in their attitudes. Francis is a Sun Sagittarius with a reforming Uranus in the 10th square Pluto; and a hope-for-a-better-society Saturn opposition Neptune. Benedict is a Sun Aries with a bookish, know-it-all Saturn in Sagittarius in the religious 9th.
Benedict’s Sun is conjunct Francis’s MC and opposition Francis’ Mars; and Benedict’s Pluto is conjunct Francis’s Ascendant, with Benedict’s Mars opposition Francis’s Sun – so Benedict will want to control and direct his successor; and sees him as a rival.
Their relationship chart has a competitive, argumentative composite Sun opposition Mars; with a chained-together-and-resenting-it composite Saturn opposition Pluto in a disruptive square to Uranus.
It’s fairly moot now with Benedict fading in his nineties but fascinating all the same to see the stress lines laid bare.