Protesting against the state visit for the Pope

Read my article in The Guardian-Why We Protest the Pope.

When the king of Saudi Arabia came on a state visit to the UK it was horrible to see the Saudi flag flying all down the Mall in London, side by side with the UK flag. I don’t yet know what the flag of the ‘Holy See’ (or the ‘Vatican City’, I’m still not quite sure which is which) looks like, but I’m not looking forwarding to seeing that flying all over London either.

I wouldn’t mind so much if the visit of the Pope were just going to be a case of a religious leader touring touring a country where he has many adherents, making essentially a private visit to the UK. When the last Pope visited the UK, that was the sort of visit it was. This time, the full panoply of a state visit is planned, on grounds that the Pope, as well as being a religious official, is a head of state.

He is the sovereign of ‘Vatican City’ (or the ‘Holy See’, whatever) where he has just over 550 subjects. That is what entitles him to a state visit in the eyes of the UK government, which is a pretty weird situation in itself. But is his state the sort of state that we want to be cosying up to in the UK?

The Holy See uses its power as a state opposes rights for LGBT people, even opposing moves at the United Nations for a universal decriminalisation of homosexuality

The Holy See uses its power as a state to make treaties with other states that negatively affect the rights of their own citizens in sometimes very dramatic ways.

The Holy See uses its recognition as a state to pursue religious policies in international organisations.

Their current head of state, Pope Benedict, said that condoms won’t help against AIDS, which is untrue, and is responsible thereby for the suffering and death of many more people than would otherwise suffer.

There are many many more reasons why a state visit by the Pope is unacceptable. If you agree that it is, please join the Facebook group which has been formed to do something to protest about this between now and the visit itself.

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