The Pope declines invite to speak to “apostate” European Parliament

The European secularist movement can stand down its troops – the Pope will not be travelling to Strasbourg to address the European Parliament after all.

Waves of indignation met the original news that Ratzinger had been invited to address the Parliament, and there was talk of a mass demonstration. All that has now been called off. It seems the Pope has no desire to speak to the “apostate” secularists of the EP. The Times thinks the snub/change of mind is because of the Vatican’s alarm at “what is seen as a drift towards militant secularism.”

A letter from the Vatican said that he was declining the request to speak to MEPs owing to other commitments and his age. The rejection came soon after the Pope agreed to spend his 81st birthday visiting President Bush and as his tour of Australia was ending. The Parliament, which wanted the Pope to be principal Christian guest in its “Year of Intercultural Dialogue”, may resort to a less well-known Eastern Orthodox leader.

Keith Porteous Wood commented: “Before we open the champagne, we should be aware that this is an attempt to put the very Catholic leaders of the EU, such as Hans Gert Pottering, under more intense pressure to resist secularist initiatives and accord his church even more privileges. Only then will Ratzinger deign to reconsider his stance.”

25 July 2008