For Pope Benedict XVI, the leaked British memo is no laughing matter.
It seems the pope can’t take a joke. The Vatican is threatening to cancel a visit to Britain by Benedict XVI after a leaked Foreign Office memo gave suggestions that included a “Benedict condom.”
The list of fanciful suggestions for the visit includes: review Vatican attitude on condom use (launch of “Benedict condoms”); bless a civil partnership; reversal of policy on women bishops (ordain women); open an abortion ward; speech on equality; training course for all bishops on child abuse allegations; harder line on child abuse (announce sacking of dodgy bishops); Vatican sponsorship for network of AIDS clinics; get the pope and the queen to sing a duet for charity, and more. —JCL
Senior Papal aides suggested the Foreign Office had not taken strong enough disciplinary action against those responsible for the document, which suggested the Pope should open an abortion clinic, bless a homosexual marriage and launch his own range of condoms while he is here.
No-one has lost their job over the memo, which was sent to Downing Street and at least three Whitehall departments, and the civil servant who authorised it has simply been moved to other duties.
One highly-placed source in the Vatican said: “This could have very severe repercussions and is embarrassing for the British government—one has to question whether the action taken is enough.
“It is disgusting. Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See has been in to see the Secretary of State and explain what happened and this will all be relayed to the Pope ... .”