It is almost here! The Pope is coming! On Saturday the 18th of September he will be here, in all his splendour. It will be the first time since the 80's since a Pope has been to the UK. It will be the first state visit and only the second visit overall for hundreds of years. I, and several thousand other people, fully intend to remind the catholic church why they stopped coming.
There are two reasons I, and many other people, intend to protest his visit. Firstly this is a state visit. That means we, the British taxpayers, have to pay for the whole silly affair. Now, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a large religion the Pope should, of course be free to tour our country. But why the hell should we pay for the privilege?
Secondly while the Pope should be free to come here, he needs to realise that this is a free country and that many people are unhappy with his views. To me, many of these are vile, repugnant and evil. I think he needs to be confronted with this.
The Pope is the head of a state and organisation that has been responsible for opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS, denying abortion to the most vulnerable women, opposing equal right for gay people, as well as covering up and enabling child abuse.
The Catholic Church is a vociferous interferer and critic of foreign governments. It never hesitates to apply political or financial pressure to further its agenda, even in non-Catholic countries like the UK. Take as an example last weeks adoption appeal. The Diocese of Leeds charitable wing, Catholic Care, wanted exemption from new anti-discrimination laws so that it could limit services to gay people on religious grounds. They had been hoping they could develop a test case.
The adoption system in the UK is run by a regulated network of local government and adoption charities. A local authority will typically have custody of children (placed in foster homes) who have been removed from, or given up by, their biological parents . A charity, or other local council will then act on behalf of prospective parents who it has vetted and will try to join everyone together. This second charity or local authority then acts to secure the adoption and support the process. Catholic Care is one of these charities, assessing and acting on behalf of prospective parents.