Protest the Pope!

// 6 September 2010

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If you’re none too thrilled with the fact that millions of pounds of our money is being spent on the Pope’s state visit to the UK next week (16-19 September) – not to mention the untold suffering inflicted by papal policies and influence across the globe – you may like to join the National Secular Society, OutRage!, Southall Black Sisters and others at the Protest the Pope march and rally on Saturday 18 September:

1.30pm – Assembly at Hyde Park Corner (top of Piccadilly)

2.30pm – 3.30pm – March: Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, Haymarket, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall

3.30pm – Rally opposite Downing Street, with speakers including Pragna Patel, Richard Dawkins, Clara Connolly and Ben Goldacre.

The organisers charge the Pope with:

1. Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS*

2. Promoting segregated education

3. Denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women

4. Opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people

5. Failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

6. Rehabilitating the holocaust denier bishop Richard Williamson and the appeaser of Hitler, the war-time Pope, Pius XII.

More details here. Facebook event here.

There’s also a Nope Pope party taking place in London on Friday 17th September to raise money for SNAP, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.

Photo by anemoneprojectors, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.

*Can I just say I think this is rather poorly worded – people in poor countries have the right to large families too – but the text goes on to explain that an estimated 1.5 million children have been orphaned due to AIDS, and clearly women should be able to control when they have a family and how large that family will be.

Comments From You

coldharbour // Posted 6 September 2010 at 9:18 pm

Can’t really disagree with any of the criticisms leveled against the Catholic establishment I just think whipping up sectarian attitudes is going to ultimately more harm than good. Anyone who thinks sectarianism is only a ’90 minute problem’ should go up the the Catholic population in North Antrim and ask them how they feel.

Josie // Posted 6 September 2010 at 9:37 pm

Yay! Have booked my tickets for the Nope Pope Party and am looking forward to it. It was very heartening to hear that apparently ticket sales for the Pope’s appearance in London on 18th have been very disappointing – sounds like Catholics are voting with their feet.

sam // Posted 6 September 2010 at 10:15 pm

as a Christian i am so fed up with people assuming that he represents me and everything that i stand for. i will be joining the protesst for sure.

kelephonica // Posted 6 September 2010 at 11:04 pm


I don’t live in Antrim but I am only 10 minutes down the road and I would say it’s pretty unfair to compare the motivations of these groups to protest the visit of Pope Benedict with the sectarianism that causes terrorists to place a bomb in a primary school playground. Raising a voice of protest against the values and actions of this Pope is a perfectly valid thing to do and is not whipping up sectarian attitudes. Blindly hating someone because they come from a community that practices a different faith tradition from you is sectarianism. Protesting the Pope because you believe he is the antichrist is sectarianism. Wanting to show the religious establishment that you object to their dangerous and offensive policies is democracy in practice, and I know plenty of catholic people who would join in those objections.

Paul King // Posted 7 September 2010 at 7:54 am

The Vatican believes it’s power and wealth puts it in a position above the law and that it need not answer to anyone for it’s actions.

This demonstration presents a once in a century chance to shatter that myth of Papal invincibility and demonstrate that no organization is above the laws of common decency and none can ignore the will of the people.

Only a massive and aggressive show of strength and outrage can effect any change and in that spirit I implore every moral person to make a super human effort to promote this monumental event.

Another chance like this may not occur in our lifetimes and the whole World is watching to see if we can really turn our words into action.

Don’t let them down.

Aimee // Posted 7 September 2010 at 8:56 am

I can’t go to this because I am, ironically, going to be in Rome. I wonder if there is anything I can do there to help/raise awareness

coldharbour // Posted 7 September 2010 at 11:02 am

“Raising a voice of protest against the values and actions of this Pope is a perfectly valid thing to do and is not whipping up sectarian attitudes.”

A recent statement from Democratic Unionist Party M.L.A Ian McCrea: “A visit from the Pope should also be opposed as many Roman Catholic people feel that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church have been complicit in abuse cases over many years and in light of the recent inquiry into child abuse in Roman Catholic institutions, such a visit would be very insensitive not only on the part of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State who arrogantly issued an invitation for a Papal visit to Northern Ireland, but also on the part of the Pope himself.”

So when Ian McCrea makes a statement such as this he is on the sectarian ‘lunatic fringe’ (according to Sinn Féin M.L.A. Daithí McKay) but when others make identical statements they are merely voicing legitimate protest? Remember the official line of the Orange Order is not that they ‘hate catholics’ but that the catholic establishment is a tyrannical structure that contravenes civil liberties, not a great ideological departure from some of the secular arguments being made. You make the point about ‘plenty of catholic people who would join in those objections’, tell me why then has Sinn Féin (a self-professed secular socialist party that campaigns for social equality) ‘accused the Orange Order of being aligned with the “far right” organisations such as the British National Party’ for making statements (see above) that are pretty much identical to statements that have been made by others protesting the pope.

SeanH // Posted 7 September 2010 at 12:23 pm

I’m mixed on this. On the one hand there is of course a great deal to protest the Pope for – the numbered list quoted in the post is a good start. On the other hand, I think the “taxpayers’ money” angle is a bit of a stretch. Firstly, even in allegedly cash-strapped times, £10-12m isn’t all that much. Secondly, he’s a visiting head of state – isn’t it perfectly ordinary for the host country to pay costs? If Sarkozy or Merkel visited, would they pay for everything?

Jennifer Drew // Posted 7 September 2010 at 1:05 pm

I see no mention has been made concerning the systemic cover-up/collusion and excuses in respect of the global issue concerning male priests engaging/ engaged in committing sexual violence against girls, boys and adult women. Do not forget Benedict must be held accountable for his part in ensuring male priests known to have committed sexual violence against children and women were never prosecuted but instead moved from parish to parish.

Why should Benedict be allowed to visit the UK when he and the vatican are tirelessly engaged in denying the fact the catholic male hierarchy is ‘riddled’ with male priests who continue to be allowed to commit sexual violence against girls, boys and adult women with impunity.

See link below for details concerning how male power operates – particularly the male catholic hierarchy in hiding/colluding with male perpetrators.

The issue is not about individual women’s and men’s beliefs – rather it is how the very, very powerful catholic church and its male priests continue to abuse their positions of power. Nor must we forget Benedict colluded with the Nazis but that too must be kept ‘hidden’ because he is now the head of the catholic church.

Laura // Posted 7 September 2010 at 6:33 pm

@ Jennifer Drew – that’s one of the main reasons for the protest, not sure why you think “no mention has been made” of it?!

Rose // Posted 7 September 2010 at 7:00 pm


I believe that the cost is expected to rocket far above that (in usual government quote fashion).

But more to the point, this is someone that preaches hate against a huge number of the taxpayers fitting the bill.

He uses his religious influence to put weight against things like the equality bill going through, he interfers with our political processes.

Lets be honest, he’s not really coming as a head of state, is he?

He’s coming as the head of a religious organisation that abuses the faith of it’s own people, and spits venom at homosexual, transgender, atheist, Jewish, spiritualist…… people, and stands in the way of international humanitarian medical aid (and education).

I’ll be there.

Paul King // Posted 8 September 2010 at 12:32 am

“Secondly, he’s a visiting head of state – isn’t it perfectly ordinary for the host country to pay costs?”

Do you call a tiny patch of Rome given to the Church by a fascist dictator, a country?

It is more the cult HQ for a ring of mass murderers, child rapists and common con men. Head of State, my foot.

LIztopia // Posted 9 September 2010 at 11:42 am

Anybody interested in protest in Edinburgh on the 16th?

Sasha Walters // Posted 13 September 2010 at 10:19 pm

I feel it disgusting that this imposter is being let into the country, let alone still the head of the church!

Considering we have free religion in the country I really find it hard to see why our money is paying for this?

I haven’t always been against catholicism, infact I was raised as a catholic, and being 16 my mother wanted me to continue doing so, after the pope has been exposed for the closed minded criminal he is, she is wanting to go to the demonstration, and being a teacher in a catholic school, it could end badly for her. I say criminal, as a man who allowes other men to abuse children must have blood on his hands too.

I don’t see how anyone can condone a man who not only looks evil, but is evil come into the country, and publically, no, nationally voice his opinion. Which as we all know, is homophobic, sexist, twisted, and in my opinion a trial of defences for the wrong he has done.

I find it really hard to even think about him, as a few close friends have been molested, some even raped, and I have seen first hand how it completly damages a person. And I really don’t understand how a man, who is meant to be so widely respected, and who we allassumed had and conscience, could just let ‘holy men’ strip away not only the dignaty of children, but their trust, and their families.

The fact that he is homophobic and sexist angers me further, as I am gay and a woman. Ha! And to think before all of this I was considering re-joining my old christian ways!

Mike Kennedy // Posted 14 September 2010 at 2:51 am

The Guardian reported, “protests could increase after it emerged that Tony Blair, who has been pelted with eggs and cancelled two public events in the past week, is likely to accompany the Pope on part of his trip”.

It turns out that if it were not for Mr Blair, this state visit may not be taking place.

It is reported “he was one of the first to support inviting the Pope after paying three visits to the Vatican while he was the nation’s political leader”. Cherie Blair also had her own private audience with Benedict. Following their visits, Gordon Brown met Benedict XVI twice at the Vatican, once as Prime Minister last year when he invited the Pope on behalf of the Queen.

In stark contrast, Tony Blair’s predecessor, John Major never once visited the Vatican.

Seems that birds of a feather do flock together.

Paul King // Posted 14 September 2010 at 7:33 am

I was shocked to read that Pope Benedict was going to praise the Allied Airman who fought the Battle of Britain. Despite his denials, Joseph Ratzinger was a willing and active member of Hitler Youth and manned an anti aircraft battery trying to shoot down those very brave men.

His friend from those days, Father Berger, now 81, was ordained a Catholic priest alongside Joseph Ratzinger and his brother and is on record as saying “he couldn’t understand why Ratzinger had insisted for so long in so many public statements that no one had a choice but to join Hitler Youth” and “he had no choice but to join Hitler Youth was simply not true’.

The Pope’s hypocrisy in this matter is similar to that displayed in his handling of the sex abuse scandals.

Kristin // Posted 14 September 2010 at 11:57 am

I agree with Paul King, I certainly wouldn’t define a piece of land given to the church as a state. The Vatican is not a state and it should not have diplomatic status.

I don’t want Mister Ratflinger here.

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