British government apologises for suggesting the Pope could create a brand of "Benedict" condoms

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI will visit the United Kingdom in September 2010

The British foreign office has apologised, after a leaked memo about a visit by Pope Benedict XVI suggested that he might launch a "Benedict" brand of condoms, bless a gay marriage, and open an abortion clinic during a papal visit to the UK.

The memo followed a brainstorming session, where members of the Papal Visit Team came up with ideas for the first papal visit to Britain in 28 years, and was sent to senior civil servants via email on the 5th of March, with the title "Policy planning ahead of the Pope’s visit". Attached files included an "ideal visit list", and said "Please protect; these should not be shared externally." However, the memo was leaked, and published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

The ministry apologised, saying that it was "ill-judged, naive and disrespectful," and that the responsible member of staff had been transferred to other duties.

Other suggestions were that the pope should change policy to allow female bishops, sponsor AIDS clinics, "spend night in council flat in Bradford" and "do forward rolls with children to promote healthy living." A further idea was to change the national anthem to a charity song "God Save the World", performed as a duet by Queen Elizabeth II and the pope.

It also said that the Pope should acknowledge clerical sex abuse scandals; British-papal relationships are strained, following the recent resignation of an Irish bishop and other allegations of Catholic Church child sex-abuse. The pope has been criticised for not taking a firm stance. In March 2010, the Pope sent a letter to Irish Catholics, expressing sorrow for the sexual abuse by Catholic priests to minors, and promising reform.

The four-day papal visit to England and Scotland is scheduled to take place in September 2010, but a "highly-placed source in the Vatican" said, "It’s even possible the trip could be cancelled as this matter is hugely offensive."