Security surrounding Pope Benedict XVI as he begins the second day of his four-day UK visit has meant that nuns and monks are being frisked by police.
Thousands of people turned out to see Pope Benedict – a.k.a. Joseph Ratzinger – as he arrived in Strawberry Hill in west London.
The Pope was on his way to St Mary’s University College to address schoolchildren.
Nuns’ habits were scrupulously checked, and they had to remove rosary beads from their handbags. Monks dressed in white were frisked, too, and crucifixes were inspected closely.
Protestors against the visit – which is costing tens of millions of pounds in taxpayer money at a time of government cutbacks – held up banners, one reading “Holy Joe Ratzinger” and another saying “From Hitler Youth to Papacy.”
The Protest the Pope campaign have organized a march against Ratzinger’s visit, which assembles tomorrow at 1.30 at Hyde Park Corner.
Many of the leading speakers at the rally are gay, including Catholic priest Father Bernard Lynch, president of the National Secular Society Terry Sanderson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association Andrew Copson and LGBT human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Other speakers include Richard Dawkins, science writer Ben Goldacre, sex-abuse survivor Sue Cox, Iranian secularist Maryam Namazie and Asian feminist campaigner Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters.
Meanwhile, secularists are furious today after the Pope appeared to equate atheism with Nazism. His remarks came in a speech yesterday to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, when he addressed an audience at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.