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The Vatican : The State of the Church

A captivating investigation into the pinnacle of Catholicism, and how incessant scandals and an ever changing society have rocked its foundations and weakened its power.


Behind the thick walls of Vatican City, the church is governed by the Roman Curia, and led by the pope. The documentary series The Vatican enters Pope Francis’ inner circle and shows how cardinals, bishops, and members in every echelon of the organization govern their 1.3 billion followers. It shows how Pope Francis, ten years down his papacy, is trying to modernize the way the church is led, and how his efforts clash with the ancient structures and habits of the Vatican, and foremost with high-ranking Roman clergymen. Is he performing genuine change for the future or rather securing almighty papal power?

In six episodes, director and International Emmy nominee Kat Steppe portrays the 2000-year-old and global organization from within, focusing on its major challenges in the 21st century. Narrating both from Vatican City and the universal catholic world, The Vatican shows Western religious leaders struggling with empty churches and a loss of influence on society while simultaneously portrays young Congolese priests in the vibrant and growing catholic movement in Africa.

It took the Belgian production company PANENKA (Two Summers, Taboo) nearly four years to complete The Vatican. Four years of endless lobbying in Rome, to get access to the inner circle of the most powerful religious movement on earth.

Genre: documentaries, series

Format: 6×52′

Directed by: Kat Steppe

Written by: Rik Torfs and Jo Badisco

Produced by: Panenka (Kato Maes and Kristoffel Mertens)

Original Broadcasters: VRT

Language: French, English, German, Italian

Year of production: 2023

International Sales: Federation

Festivals & awards: Winner of the Best Pitch Award CONNeXT 2019

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