Damian Thompson reveals unexpected turmoil…
Damian Thompson reveals unexpected turmoil, confusion and poor organization behind the scenes in the preparations for Pope Benedict XVI’s keenly awaited visit to Britain. He claims the trip has been hijacked by a Blairite cadre.
Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain was always intended to be on a smaller scale than that of John Paul II in 1982. But the diplomatic, political and logistical problems associated with it are far greater. For various diplomatic reasons, the last Pope came to Britain on a private visit: Benedict XVI is doing so as a head of state. Accordingly, the British government will pay for aspects of his visit that are not specifically Catholic. A draft itinerary of his visit, seen by The Spectator, includes an audience with the Queen at Holyrood House, Edinburgh, and an 8.15 p.m. state banquet in his honour hosted by the Prime Minister at Lancaster House — which, bizarrely, the Pope is not expected to attend, presumably because, at 83, he might find it exhausting.
The Papal visit also coincides with much public indignation at the Church’s role in protecting paedophile priests. The authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens would like to see the Pope arrested for his role in covering up the abuse. There has also been resentment over the £7 million of taxpayers’ money that will pay for the visit — but at least that sum has not increased since the non-Catholic parts of the Pope’s itinerary were confirmed earlier this year. It is the part of the visit run by the Church which is running into danger. The question facing the archbishops is how on earth the church got its own sums badly wrong.
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