In its ranking of the "50 people who matter today", the left-wing weekly puts Pope Benedict at No. 6, up from 26. Before "Papa Ratzi", as the magazine calls him, come the Murdochs, Barack Obama, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Steve Jobs. The brief, sneering text focuses exclusively on sex abuse cover-ups and the alleged "financial power" of the Vatican. In describing Pope Benedict's UK visit, the magazine mentions only the "reaction" to it, which demonstrates, says the NS, "the divisive but enduring impact of the pontiff today".
By publishing a front-cover article by Geoffrey Robertson in the week of the papal visit, the NS showed itself to be, along with the Independent, the mouthpiece of British secularism. The Independent has since come close to admitting it got the Pope badly wrong. No such humble recognition from the NS.