So the news that the Pope's visit might cost as much as £12 million pounds (or even nearer £100 million) should not be a factor in his visit, should it?
I would argue that cost shouldn't be a factor. But that doesn't mean I'm not completely opposed to a state visit by him.
A state visit is an honour bestowed by both the host and the guest on each other. What exactly has the Pope done that deserves this honour? Here's a few things, perhaps, from Protest The Pope:
However, as well as a religious leader, the Pope is a head of state and the state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for:
- opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS
- promoting segregated education
- denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women
- opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people
- failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.
- rehabilitating the holocaust denier bishop Richard Williamson and the appeaser of Hitler, the war-time Pope, Pius XII.
- The state of which the Pope is the head has also resisted signing many major human rights treaties and has formed its own treaties (‘concordats’) with many states which negatively affect the human rights of citizens of those states.
Not exactly an unblemished record, and certainly not an honourable one. Let me make this clear; I do not oppose a visit to the United Kingdom by the Pope. I oppose a State Visit, and the honour and stamp of approval it brings.
Furthermore, he appears to be using this visit, funded by us, as a means to further the aims of the organisation he also heads. Holding public Mass' for members of his organisation is all very well. When he's not here as our guest.
Based on the itinerary, in fact, the Pope doesn't seem to be doing much that does not involve his position as Head of the Catholic Church. Is he visiting as a head of state or as a head of his church???
And there's the strange confusion between Government immigration policy and their acceptance of this visit. On the one hand they ban private visits by clerics, loony homophobes (such as the Phelps family) and Dutch parliamentarians from visiting because of their controversial statements, yet fund and encourage one by a religious leader who is just as controversial. Where's the consistency? Why were those bans allowed if we are then willing to allow the Pope in? Is it one rule for the ordinary person, and another for a man who claim's to be God's representative on Earth?
Cancel the state visit now. Send a message to say that whilst Britain doesn't tell other countries what to believe, we do expect a level of belief in basic fundamental individual rights and some sort of positive achievement before anyone gets accorded the honour of a State Visit to our great nation.
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist