New-look Bond gets a 5-star blessing from the Vatican
If anyone thinks the Vatican newspaper is still a staid broadsheet that publishes only religious news and harsh papal edicts, consider this: on Tuesday it ran not one but five articles about the new James Bond film.
Skyfall gets a rave review in l'Osservatore Romano, which calls it one of the best of the 23 James Bond films made over the past 50 years.
In the main article, titled "007 License to Cry", the newspaper says the latest incarnation of the world's most famous spy is good because it makes him less of a cliché, and "more human, capable of being moved and of crying: in a word, more real".
A second article compares the different actors who have played James Bond, from the original Sean Connery to the current Daniel Craig.
Craig tells the paper he feels "very different" from the actors who have preceded him in playing Bond but does concede that Connery is "a point of reference".
Another article explains why author Ian Fleming chose the name James Bond for his hero (Fleming wanted an ordinary sounding name), and the fifth article analyses the various soundtracks of the 23 films.
The Bond splash shows just how much the newspaper has changed.
Since taking it over in 2007, editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian has slowly transformed it from a newspaper critics said could compete with sleeping pills to one that follows current events, trends and show business as well as church business.
Pope Benedict gave Vian a mandate to rejuvenate the 151-year-old mouthpiece of the Holy See when he appointed him.
Other changes have included more articles by women, more international cover and a reader-friendly layout and typeface.
Its influence is disproportionate to its tiny print circulation of just 15,000. An editorial reflecting the Vatican's position on something reverberates around the world when it is picked up by the mainstream media.