NSS Responds to Government’s announcement of Pope’s State Visit

The National Secular Society has reacted with indignation to the Government’s official announcement of the Pope’s state visit to Britain in September, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said:

“At a time when the Pope is swirling in a very unpleasant scandal of his own making, the Government chooses to announce that it is to spend a huge amount of money on lauding him. To do this now makes it appear that we don’t care about the Vatican’s crimes against children.

“The Church over which the Pope is presiding is embroiled internationally in a series of revelations that show it to be institutionally corrupt. It has systematically covered up the horrendous abuse of children by its priests, protecting its own interests at the cost of the health and well-being of thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of vulnerable children.”

Mr Sanderson said: “I cannot believe that we are lauding the head of an organisation that not only insults and denigrates homosexuals, tries to restrict the rights of women by banning contraception and abortion, but deliberately lies about the effectiveness of condoms in the fight against AIDS. This invitation is a rebuke to all those Britons who are incensed by the horrific revelations that are emerging daily about the Vatican’s activities. The Government should be sharply criticising rather than welcoming this man.”

Mr Sanderson said that a new campaign group has been formed called Protest the Pope which would organise demonstrations and other events around the time of the visit.

“We want to ensure that there is a platform for those who wish to make clear that they disapprove of this particular Pope and all the reactionary values he stands for.”

Last week the NSS handed over a 28,000 name petition to the Prime Minister objecting to the state funding of this visit.