Foreign Office apology over 'foolish' Pope paper
THE Foreign Office has been forced to issue a public apology after an official document suggested Britain should mark the Pope's visit this year by asking him to open an abortion clinic, bless a gay marriage and launch a range of Benedict-branded condoms.
The document suggested Benedict XVI could show his hard line on the issue of child abuse allegations against Roman Catholic priests by "sacking dodgy bishops" and launching a helpline for abused children.
The ideas were included in a paper titled The Ideal Visit Would See…, which was distributed to officials in Whitehall and Downing Street preparing for the visit in September. A cover note said the paper stemmed from a brainstorming session and accepted that some of the ideas were "far-fetched".
Many of the proposals appeared to mock the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception and the difficulties which it is experiencing over child abuse.
Last night, the Foreign Office apologised for what it described as a "foolish" document and said the individual responsible had been transferred to other duties. Foreign Secretary David Miliband was said to have been "appalled" to hear of the paper, and Britain's Ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell, met officials of the Holy See to express the government's regret.
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