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Pope Francis - Copyright AGF s.r.l. / REX
World News

BBC to go inside the Vatican in documentary starting Friday night

by Cara Bentley

It gives an insight into the lives behind closed doors of Pope Francis and some of his highest ranking officials, the choristers of the Sistine Chapel and the papal gardener.

Airing at 9pm on BBC 2, the first episode follows the build up to Easter in Pope Francis' fifth year in the role.

Christopher Lamb, Rome correspondent for Catholic magazine The Tablet, and consultant and commentator on the programme, told Premier: "I think it shows a unique picture of the Vatican - one that is very rarely seen, if ever seen, of the people who live and work there and seek to serve in the Vatican in the Roman Curia and it presents both the high level officials and it also shows the gardeners who work in the Vatican gardens and the people who work inside the church, doing very menial tasks.

"I think it shows the whole picture of the Vatican. It's not about trying to come with a pre-conceived agenda. It does get into some of the big issues around the opposition that Pope Francis has faced, also the sexual abuse crisis - he doesn't shy away from that - but it's really trying to tell you what to think about the Vatican but to show you what the Vatican is really like and allow viewers to make up their own mind."

Mr Lamb has travelled with the Pope on several foreign trips and features in both episodes.

He added: "What this documentary shows is that there are people who are going about their daily lives, sometimes completing very ordinary tasks within this context of faith, with the juxtaposition between the divine and the human - that's the kind of tension that I suppose all Christians have between this world and the world that is to come and I think that's kind of lived out in the Vatican.

"Of course, there are disputes, it's full of politics, there are different rival factions and attentions like any human organisation but I think, particularly under this pontificate, there is a new sense that the Vatican and Rome must be part of a mission - the mission of the church, which is not just be a grand bureaucracy looking inwards but looking out to evangelise, to bring the gospel to every corner of the world.

"That's one of the things that Pope Francis does and he's often most comfortable when he's outside of the Vatican traveling in very poor countries and meeting people in every other varied part of the world that the church is serving in."

The series starts at 9pm on Friday on BBC2.

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