In the part of south-east France where I'm settled, people are still aware of, and indeed sensitive to, bloody conflicts that took place here over four centuries ago. I'm referring to the so-called Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants [often referred to as Huguenots].
They lasted on and off for 36 years, from 1562 up until the salutary Edict of Nantes in 1598. Records indicate that the vineyards at Choranche, run by Catholic monks, were totally devastated by Protestant vandals in 1593. Besides, that date enables me to infer that the splendid stone cellar in my house dates from the beginning of the 17th century, when all the monastic installations in the region had to be rebuilt. It is said that, towards the end of the Wars of Religion, the Catholic lord of Pont-en-Royans, Antoine de Sassenage, slaughtered all the Calvinist troops in the village, and that the Bourne (so the story goes) "ran red with their blood".
I'm amazed to learn that Pope Benedict XVI has just approved a document that is likely to revive conflicts between Catholics and Protestants by reasserting naively the universal primacy of the church of Rome. The document affirms that Jesus established only one church on earth. This is total rubbish. Everybody knows today that Jesus, during his brief life, never established anything whatsoever that might be referred to as a church. After the crucifixion of their master, and up until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, some 40 years later, the followers of Jesus remained Jews [referred to, these days, as Judeo-Christians], and played no part in the foundation of anything that might be thought of as a primitive Christian church. That did not start to happen until Gentiles led by Paul got into action. As far as early links with Rome are concerned, there is no proof whatsoever that the apostle Simon Peter went to Italy, and is buried at the Vatican. It's far more likely that he died in Jerusalem and was buried beneath the chapel of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives, at the place where Jesus wept while contemplating the temple and its future destruction.
As a relatively unconcerned observer, I have the impression that some of the reactionary decisions and declarations of the headstrong former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger will end up annihilating little by little the failing credibility of christianity, and hastening its doom.