French First Lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, says that she has allowed her Catholic faith to lapse because of Pope Benedict's approach to contraception in Africa.
She said that the Church's teachings had left her feeling "profoundly secular", the UK Telegraph reports.
In March, the Pope sparked controversy while on an African tour by saying that the AIDS pandemic which has crippled the continent "can't be resolved with the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, there is the risk of increasing the problem".
Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy said: "I was born Catholic, I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular.
"I find that the controversy coming from the Pope's message - albeit distorted by the media - is very damaging.
"In Africa it's often Church people who look after sick people. It's astonishing to see the difference between the theory and the reality.
"I think the Church should evolve on this issue. It presents the condom as a contraceptive which, incidentally, it forbids, although it is the only existing protection," she told Femme Actuelle, the women's magazine.
Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy has campaigned against the spread of AIDS in Africa. The Pope's stance against the use of contraceptives in Africa was roundly criticised in France - including by many Catholics. Some 43 per cent of them wanted the Pontiff to step down, according to one poll.
Carla Bruni criticises Pope Benedict XVI (UK Telegraph)
Carla Bruni (Wikipedia)