Pope Benedict XVI led the Catholic Church into its greatest crisis since the Reformation: the global child sex abuse scandal. We tell the story of his rise and fall which is symptomatic of the failings of the Church.

Worldwide, there are 1.3 billion members of the Catholic Church, a global institution ruled over by the Pope. In 2013, the faithful looked on in dismay as Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, resigned in the middle of a global child sex abuse scandal, leaving this 2000-year-old institution to face its biggest crisis since the Reformation. Through interviews with advisors and friends of Ratzinger, we tell the story of his rise and fall, taking a look at the events that led to the scandals and Benedict’s ultimate resignation, portraying his decisions as symptomatic of a deep-rooted, structural crisis at the heart of the Church that is ongoing to this day. Many of his key advisors were involved in the cover-up of the global child sex abuse crisis and were implicated in corruption scandals. Ratzinger, who believed that contemporary society was lost if it did not rediscover its Catholic values, was forced to acknowledge that his greatest enemies were inside the Church, even amongst his inner circle. By the time he became aware of his errors, he found himself surrounded by chaos and enemies, his whole world crumbling around him. A look behind the scenes of an institution that, by refusing to modernise itself, refused to protect its most vulnerable members.

Feature Documentary / Current Affairs
Film by Christoph Röhl
Length 90’ HD
Co-Production Flare Film with ZDF/3Sat and RBB, with the support of the German-Italian Co-Production Development Fund of FFA and MiBACT, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Nordmedia, German Federal Film Fund, 2019
Original Title Defender of the Faith