Britons Criticize Pope’s Visit to England as Catholic Church Pro-Life on Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 15, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Britons Criticize Pope’s Visit to England as Catholic Church Pro-Life on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 15
, 2010

London, England ( — Normally, a visit from the Pope is an occasion of celebration and notoriety for nations having the privileged of hosting his visit. However, liberal Britons are speaking out aggressively and saying they’re not happy he is coming to England because the Catholic Church is pro-life on abortion.

In today’s Guardian, more than 50 prominent Britons published a letter criticizing the Pope Benedict XVI’s official visit, which is his first ever to the U.K., because of the Vatican’s record on abortion.

"We believe that the Pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country. However, as well as a religious leader, the Pope is a head of state," the letter says.

They accuse the Catholic Church of "opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS" and "denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women."

Signatories on the letter to the newspaper included atheist biologist Richard Dawkins, comedian Stephen Fry, and writers Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman.

William Donohue, of the America-based Catholic League, responded in an editorial that appeared online.

"No one who ever followed the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality ever got AIDS voluntarily, but many who rejected these teachings have," he said. "The Catholic Church has always stood for the equal dignity of all persons."

The Pope’s leading critics are imbued with hate," he said, pointing out how some of the signers have said "I hope the wretched Catholic Church will vanish entirely," or that it is "the greatest force for evil in the world."

Meanwhile, AFP reported on a survey by the Populus Institute showing how far British society has gone in opposition to the Catholic Church and pro-life values.

The poll found only 14 percent of people agreed they were "positively in favor of his visit and we should not quibble about the inevitable costs."

Some 73 percent of people thought Pope Benedict should drop the outright opposition to abortion, with 79 percent saying the same for contraception.

The Pope is headed to Britain to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman and, as of Tuesday, more than 10,000 tickets remained unsold. That stand in contrasts to the Pope’s visit to almost any other part of the world, where hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate his arrival.

Still, over 1,000 busses are expected to arrive at the event and more than 55-60,000 people are planning to attend.

Prime minister David Cameron said in a video message that he offered Pope Benedict a "very warm welcome to Britain" for his "incredibly important and historic visit".
"These will be a very special four days, not just for our six million Catholics but for many people of faith right across Britain and for millions more watching around the world," he said.

"Not everyone will agree with everything the Pope says. But that should not prevent us from acknowledging the Pope’s broader message can help challenge us to ask searching questions about our society and about how we treat ourselves and each other," he added.


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