Britain Issues Apology to Pope Benedict Over Memo on Abortion, Condoms

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 26, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Britain Issues Apology to Pope Benedict Over Memo on Abortion, Condoms

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 26
, 2010

London, England ( — Britain’s foreign ministry hastily apologized to Pope Benedict XVI after the publication of an embarrassing internal memo. The memo saw a junior British official joking that, during an upcoming visit, the Pope could open an abortion clinic or launch a line of condoms.

The memo was seen by pro-life advocates as the latest example of disrespect aimed at the Catholic Church.

The document became public knowledge when it was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper and it also included proposals for Pope Benedict to bless a gay marriage during his expected visit to England in September.

The newspaper said the ideas, which came in a memo after a "brainstorm" session, were the subject of an apology from Britain’s ambassador to the Vatican, who apologized to senior Church officials.

"This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect U.K. government or FCO policy or views," a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said, according to the paper. "Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful."

Jack Valero’s, of Catholic Voices, responded to the dustup.

"I think it’s a joke that has gone wrong – light relief that has gone out of control. And I think Catholics will just take it like this, you know, that they’ll think about it today and then they will forget about it," he said.

But John Smeaton, of the British pro-life group SPUC, said that won’t happen.

"That’s really not good enough, particularly in view of the unbalanced criticism of the Catholic Church during the prime ministerial debate last Thursday," he said. "Abortion, in other words, is not a matter of private morality of concern only to Catholics. On the contrary."

"I thought the Government’s response was nearer the mark," Smeaton added — saying, David Milliband, the foreign secretary, was said to be "appalled" by the incident.

One foreign service officer told the Telegraph that no ministers saw the document before it was leaked to the press and that the person responsible for writing it has been moved to other duties.

"He has been told orally and in writing that this was a serious error of judgment and has accepted this view," the spokesman said. "The FCO very much regrets this incident and is deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused. We strongly value the close and productive relationship between the U.K. government and the Holy See and look forward to deepening this further with the visit of Pope Benedict to the U.K. later this year."

Pope Benedict is expected to visit England from September 16-19 and it will be the first time a Pope has visited Britain since 1982.

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