Papers reveal sectarian tensions vetoed public holiday for Pope’s 1982 visit
FEARS over sectarian tensions led to a public holiday for the Pope’s visit to Scotland in 1982 being vetoed, it emerged today.
Declassified papers, released under the 30 year rule, show memos from Secretary of State for Scotland George Younger to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warning of a Protestant backlash if the holiday was granted.
In a letter to Mrs Thatcher, the then Secretary of State warned of “clear indications of serious, dangerous manifestations of sectarian hatred.”
Scotland’s Catholics had hoped that a school holiday would be granted around the Pope John Paul 11’s visit so that children and their families could attend events organised around the country.
Presbyterian churches and the Orange Order objected to an additional holiday being put on around the trip, the first visit of a Pope to Scotland in 400 years, on the grounds that it would give the “Antichrist” an undeserved status.
Lothian and Fife regional councils had asked Mr Younger to approve a holiday however they were told that it would only be allowed if schools took it in place of an existing holiday.