By way of a reminder, this story covers it pretty well, and this one tells us how it won’t affect the damned visit, which will cost the taxpayer up to £20 million, plus money from existing police budgets to keep the bastard from taking a well-deserved bullet.
However, in brief, some civil servants in the UK’s Foreign Office had a brainstorming session on the subject. Among the suggestions were the issue of “Benedict” condoms, that His Twatship should bless a gay marriage, that he should do a duet with our Dear Sovereign Lady the Queen (bless her cotton socks and squeaky voice) and open an abortion ward.
The atheist Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, grovelled to apologise to the evil organisation that was set up in Italy by a Fascist dictator, and the civil servant responsible was moved to other duties.
Anyway, the whole thing prompted my fellow Gatheist discussion group member, John Hunt, to pen a letter to said Miliband, which he’s given me permission to reproduce:
Dear Mr Miliband
Having seen reports of the memo allegedly circulated by a junior Foreign Office civil servant (though a senior official since held responsible has been transferred to other duties), and of the Foreign Office response (that this “is clearly a foolish document . . . clearly ill-judged, naïve and disrespectful”), it appears that neither the Foreign Office nor some journalists appreciate the grave and profound damage which successive popes have inflicted and continue to inflict upon Roman Catholic faithful, upon lapsed Roman Catholics, upon society at large, and upon LGBTIQ people in particular.
As just one example of the many evils inflicted (some deliberately, others unwittingly – but nevertheless condoned and concealed) by the Vatican machine, the UK and the world are still awaiting a proper response to the issue of decades (if not centuries) of global sexual abuse of children by priests. Yet while the UK and the world lose faith that such a response will ever be forthcoming, despite whatever divine inspiration Josef (“Benedict”) Ratzinger may be able to access, you reportedly declare yourself appalled to hear of this brain-storming exercise. Although some of the proposals are sadly not practical this year, others (whatever Benedict may think of them) would be interpreted by many as a token first step on the long, up-hill journey which the Vatican needs to undertake if it wishes to recover any moral standing.
Religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill wrote in the Times a year ago, “Even friends of the Church must be asking themselves, on reading this terrible litany of shame, whether the Church is worth saving at all.” Subsequent revelations indicate that, in the world court of public opinion, it most definitely is not. Amen.
It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes back by way of response.