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Pope Memo Was ‘Foolish,’ Author Moved

From a wonderfully forgiving New York Times:

‘Foolish’ Memo on Pope’s Visit Spurs Apology by the British

By JOHN F. BURNS

April 25, 2010

LONDON — Britain’s Foreign Office has apologized publicly for a “foolish” internal memo circulated to government departments that suggested, with apparent sarcasm, that the “ideal” itinerary for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain in September might include the pope’s opening an abortion clinic, blessing a gay marriage and introducing a “Benedict” brand of condoms.

The leaked memo suggested, in effect, that the visit be used to draw critical attention to the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on sex and marriage, and to highlight the scandal that has enveloped the Vatican over the sexual abuse of children by priests and child care workers.

Drafted by a junior diplomat, the memo suggested that Benedict use the visit to “sack dodgy bishops,” and that he promote healthy living with a public gymnastics display to include “forward rolls” with children.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the memo had been a foolish attempt to joke about the church’s troubles, and had not been seen by any high-ranking Foreign Office officials before it went out to other departments.

The memo was leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, a national newspaper that gave the story front-page prominence in its weekend editions. The account came less than two weeks before Britain’s general election, an awkward time for the politically beleaguered Labour Party. Many of Britain’s 4.2 million Catholics are clustered in Labour strongholds in the north.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Foreign Secretary David Miliband was “appalled” by the memo. Mr. Miliband has been suggested as a possible successor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Labour leader if the party loses the election. Officials said Mr. Miliband had told the British ambassador to the Vatican to apologize to papal officials.

The Sunday Telegraph said the memo was attached as one of three “background papers” to a document written last month that invited senior government officials to a meeting to discuss themes for the papal visit. It is to be the first such visit to Britain since one by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

The Foreign Office said the memo emerged from a discussion between three or four junior staff members who had gotten together to brainstorm on how to make the visit a success.

It said the official responsible for circulating the memo, said to have been in his 20s, had been moved to other duties and told “orally and in writing that this was a serious error of judgment.” The official was not publicly identified.

“This is clearly a foolish document,” the Foreign Office said. “Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill judged, naïve and disrespectful.”

It would seem that the British Foreign Office has officials who despise the Catholic Church almost as much as the editors of the New York Times.

Still, just as a thought experiment, try to imagine what would have happened if a similar memo had been written about some figure of the Islamic persuasion.

Would it just be called “foolish”? Would its author just be “moved to other duties”?

How many buildings would have been burned to the ground by now? How many people would be lying dead in the streets?

Luckily for Britain, despite all its sins, the Catholic Church isn’t a Religion Of Peace.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, April 26th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Pope Memo Was ‘Foolish,’ Author Moved”

  1. artboyusa says:

    Of course if Benedict’s job title was “Grand Ayatollah” instead of “Pope” this would never have happened (although suggesting that he apologise for the Spanish Armada was kind of funny…)

  2. MinnesotaRush says:

    Somebody from the o-blah-blah team write that memo for them???

  3. AcornsRNutz says:

    Strangely, the statistics say that the majority of the “children” abused were in their teens. So it was really gay sex with teenagers. Take your average liberal and ask them how wrong they think that is and most will not be too bothered by it. Now take your average catholic and ask them. I wish I could manufacture Irony flavored ice cream, it is so delicious I would be a millionare over night.


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