We shouldn’t pay for Pope’s visit

Pope Benedict XVI (by Tadeusz Górny, public domain)I haven’t quite got round to writing a piece on why I don’t agree with the Pope’s visit to the UK, which begins tomorrow. However, a letter in today’s Guardian quite succinctly makes many of the points I wanted to.

I’m quite happy for the leader of any religion to visit this country, given our principles of free speech: after all, various people are allowed to say far worse things than the Pope does. However, I don’t think the British taxpayer should be paying for any of it. It’s about time we stopped pretending the Vatican is a proper country.

One thing I don’t agree with in the Guardian letter is the reference to “Pope Ratzinger”. I know the Guardian is hardly an authority when it comes to using titles correctly, but a quick Google shows that this is an incorrect form of name used by angry Catholic-bashing websites, and I find its use in a letter to a quality newspaper inappropriate. If they don’t recognise the office of Pope, why not just call him Joseph Ratzinger, which is his real name after all?

Third World country

I was initially annoyed to hear that a German cardinal, Walter Kasper, had called the UK a Third World country. However, when I read the full quote, he actually said, “When you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country”. I’m sure many users of Heathrow Airport would agree with him.

As for being marked by “a new and aggressive atheism”, I don’t think that necessarily needs to be taken as an insult.

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