23 Apr 2011

Benedict first pope to take part in TV programme

2:35 pm on 23 April 2011

Pope Benedict XVI has will become the first pontiff to take questions from the public in a television programme.

The pre-recorded event shown on Italian television was based on the most frequently asked questions by the public sent to a special website.

Seven questions were chosen from thousands submitted for the Pope to answer during the 80-minute programme, the BBC reports.

Among them were questions from a child in Japan, a Muslim woman in Ivory Coast and an Italian mother caring for a son in a permanent coma.

A seven-year-old girl in Japan asked Pope Benedict to explain the suffering in her country after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

"We do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do," the pope said.

The mother of a man who has been in a long term coma asked whether he still had a soul.

The pope replied that her son's soul was still in his body and that he could feel the presence of love.

"The situation, perhaps, is like that of a guitar whose strings have been broken and therefore can no longer play," he said.

Despite the restrictions of the Good Friday programme, it is being seen as a further move by the Pope to embrace new ways of transmitting his message of hope and renewal.