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50 People Who Matter 2010 | 6. Pope Benedict XVI

Papa Ratzi.

The reaction to Benedict XVI's UK visit demonstrates the divisive but enduring impact of the pontiff today.

For critics of the Vatican, he has become a symbol not only of Catholic doctrine at its reactionary worst, but also of the cover-up of child abuse in his Church.

Don't forget the scale of the faith Benedict leads - according to recent figures, there are nearly 1.2 billion baptised Catholics worldwide.

With assets thought to be worth upwards of $1.8bn and a dedicated bank that frequently holds more than $1bn in deposits, the Vatican is also a financial power. This Pope's influence goes far beyond the spiritual inspiration of his flock.

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This article first appeared in the 27 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter