The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed a call by the Catholic Herald to cancel the official State visit of the Pope to the UK this September. The editorial in Britain’s leading Catholic newspaper argues that instead of a taxpayer-funded State visit, the Pope should make a private, pastoral visit paid for by the Catholic Church.
In the last British General Election “Leader’s Debate”, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all disagreed with the Vatican on a number of key issues, while maintaining support for the Pope’s State visit. At a Hustings event this week, organised by the London School of Economics and the Fawcett Society, the parties’ equality spokespeople, Harriet Harman, Lynne Featherstone and Theresa May, all said they welcomed the Pope’s planned official visit, and refused to answer a question asking what women’s equality issues they would raise with the Pope.
Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented, “We support those Catholics and others who are now calling for the Pope’s visit to not be a state visit. As a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many UK adherents, the Pope is of course free to visit the UK. But the Holy See is a fake state, which uses its international influence for religious ends and to allow the Pope to visit us as a head of state is ludicrous.
“Whatever the nature of the Papal visit turns out to be, we and our partners will still use it as an opportunity to raise awareness of the Vatican’s global violations of human rights and human dignity.”