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article imageCatholic leader in UK says Pope’s visit shouldn’t be a firefight

By Andrew John     Jul 7, 2010 in World
The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales says he doesn’t expect Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK in two months’ time to be a “firefight” over the priestly abuse scandal.
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols is quoted by the wire service AFP as saying the visit is a “very historical” one, and that English Catholic church had “rightly condemned the abuses and rightly criticised” the Vatican’s response to the crisis.
“Nobody should be pressing the Pope to meet victims of abuses to make a good photo opportunity,” he said. Then, referring to the countries worst hit by the sex scandal, he said: “The visit is in the UK, which is not Belgium, not Ireland, not the USA.”
In addition to the sex abuse, much criticism has centred on the projected cost of the state visit, which will have to be met by the taxpayer.
Lord Patten, who is organizing the visit for the British government, says the cost is likely to be £10–12 million, little more than the cost of the recent G20 summit in Toronto. However, costs have been put much higher, and the security for the papal visit will be coming from hard-pressed existing police budgets.
Britain’s National Secular Society says Britain is making huge cutbacks in public spending in order to deal with the current crippling deficit, and “we can’t afford this papal jamboree.”
And two noted atheist authors, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, have thrown their weight behind a legal move to have the Pope arrested for crimes against humanity when he arrives in the UK in September, because of his alleged cover-up of priestly child sex abuse.
Protest the Pope
A growing organization called Protest the Pope is among the chief campaigners, and has been organizing events in the UK against Benedict’s visit. “The Pope opposes universal equality and human rights,” the group says on its website. “He should not be accorded the honour and recognition of a state visit to our country.
“Join the chorus of protest saying: ‘No! The Pope is not welcome!’”
The group is calling on people to join it in its campaigning, saying: “If you believe, as we do, that the Pope should not come to the UK without hearing from the millions of people who reject his harsh, intolerant views and the practices and policies of the Vatican State please get involved.”
The AFP report also cites what it calls “firebrand former Northern Ireland leader and Protestant minister Ian Paisley,” who has called the invitation to Pope Benedict “a mistake” and has criticized the Catholic Church for its response to the child-abuse scandal.
More about Pope Benedict, Ratzinger, Vincent nicholls, Catholic, Protest pope
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