The National Secular Society (an IHEU member organization in the UK) has announced a large-scale campaign of protest against the state visit of the Pope to Britain in September.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “The taxpayer in this country is going to be faced with a bill of some £20 million for the visit of the Pope. A visit in which he has already indicated he will attack equal rights and promote discrimination.”
Sanderson said that a coalition of groups that have suffered because of the Pope’s teachings will ensure that wherever he goes he will be aware that he has caused damage and hurt in the lives of real people. He said that he was seeking to bring together gay groups, feminist groups, family planning organisations, pro-choice groups, victim support groups and anyone who feels under siege from the Vatican’s current militancy. “We hope that the many people who are outraged at the Vatican’s apparent indifference to the abuse of children by its priests will turn out to make their feelings clear.”
Sanderson added: “We have an online petition where people can make clear their opposition to the state funding of this visit. If the Catholic Church wishes its leader to come here, it should pay for the visit itself. I am sure many others feel the same resentment as we do at the NSS at funding the presence of someone who wishes to impose a reactionary agenda of social change on us.”
The ‘Make the Pope Pay’ Coalition will officially launch later this week.
The NSS plans include a festival of films that show the wrong-doings of the Vatican, among them The Magdalene Sisters and The Boys of St Vincent’s – a film about the cover-up of sexual abuse at a Catholic orphanage in Canada.