Posted: Apr 24, 2012 5:17 PM
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI is beginning his eighth year as pope after spending the waning days of his seventh driving home his very conservative view of the Catholic Church.
In recent weeks, the Vatican has issued a divisive crackdown on dissenters and an equally divisive opening to a fringe group of traditionalists.
The coming year will likely see more of the same, as the Vatican gears up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 church meetings that reshaped the Catholic Church and are key to understanding this papacy and Benedict's recent moves to promote a more conservative brand of Catholicism.
Tuesday marked the anniversary of the start of Benedict's pontificate, which officially began April 24, 2005 with an inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square.