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Archbishop to meet Pope protesters

By on Monday, 6 September 2010

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark (Mazur/CCN)

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark (Mazur/CCN)

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark is to meet the leaders of the Protest the Pope campaign today to ask them to “show respect” to Catholics celebrating the Pope’s visit.

The archbishop said he wanted to encourage a dignified protest that would not disrupt the occasion for the faithful.

He said: “They are perfectly entitled to protest. What I would ask of all of them is to do so in a dignified way, which does not disrupt the joy of the Catholic community in welcoming the Pope. I hope they would show respect to those of us who do have [religious] convictions.”

The meeting was arranged by Scotland Yard, who told protesters in a letter that it had been requested by Archbishop Smith.

In the letter Sgt Nicholas Williams, the Met’s head of the Communities Together Strategic Engagement Team, said: “The Metropolitan Police Service will provide a room for the meeting between members of the Protest the Pope Movement and the Roman Catholic Church.

“Can I stress this is not a Metropolitan Police meeting. We are simply acting as the ‘middle man’ in order to bring you and the Roman Catholic Church together for a discussion.”

The archbishop was expected to meet Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

They are organising a rally at Hyde Park Corner, central London, a spot the Pope will pass in his popemobile. It is thought a similar protest in Scotland failed to attract any interest.

It also this week emerged that protesters may be planning to pelt the popemobile with eggs. A Facebook group called “Egg the Pope” had attracted 21 members at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Robinson QC has published a legal argument for arresting the Holy Father on the grounds of “crimes against humanity”.

But Meredydd Hughes, the chief constable co-ordinating security for the visit, has said that anyone who tries to arrest the Pope could themselves be arrested.

Officers will be issued with detailed guidelines on how to deal with protesters and will be told they can arrest anyone who tries a citizen’s arrest.

Mr Robinson’s argument has also been picked apart by Catholic journalist Austen Ivereigh, who said he had made “serious errors” – for one, arguing that Britain only recognised the Vatican as a state in the 1929 Lateran Treaty.

Mr Ivereigh explained that Britain had a relationship with the Holy See, not the Vatican City State. That relationship predates the Lateran Treaty: it was established in 1479, and, after a four-century hiatus, resumed in 1914.

  • Graham

    I am catholic and not bothered by the popes visit as I live in Devon and as usual no visit to the south west are we not part of the UK to?.

  • Mark H.

    Why bother meeting these characters? They are an unrepresentative, elitist cabal that hates God and His Church. Why even acknowledge their existence?

  • Dave

    I'm sure that the protesters would be inclined to show respect if the pope respects the citizens of the UK who are paying for this visit. This respect would include not attacking the values of our state such as equality for all. He should not attack Lesbian and Gay people, atheists or the secular, our provision of abortion and contraception, divorce etc. This is not a theocracy even though we have a connection with church and state. Respect goes two ways and it is not good enough to ask for respect or lack of criticism while demanding the privilege to attack others and their values and to be disrespectful.

  • Fariam

    So expressing a different opinion or point of view is now a disrespectful attack on a state, no matter how reasoned it might be… It also seems you don not know the difference between expressing an idea, opinion, and/or point of view and attacking someone… Not a theocracy you said. No, but it is looking more and more like a totalitarain state everday! So much for respecting the universal right to freedom of expression, thought, and religion :)

  • louella

    The Pope is correct in criticising evil. That is his God-given job. Abortion is an abomination – and no nation which legalises it can call itself civilised. And they are doomed!

    Hurrah for the Pope – saying it like it is!!

  • Barney O'Keeffe

    I just heard Peter Smith on the radio telling us that bishops are in charge of investigating child abuse and are under instructions to report all cases to the vatican.

    You people really don't get it do you? The vatican are the ones responsible for the cover up! The bishops should have been reporting crime to the police!

    Respect has to be earned, and your priests and your bishops and your pope have earned nothing but disgust, which I for one will enjoy expressing loudly during the pope's unwelcome visit here.

  • Dave

    And protesting against the popes opinions is painted as disrespectful and anti Catholic. It is a two way street you have missed my point. I would suggest that politically lobbying against equality legislation and protection for homosexuals and calling their desire evil or their relationships intrinsically disordered is actually attacking people. It gives permission and justification for those who would physically attack and discriminate against people to do so. If it was just an opinion expressed then it would not really be a problem but it comes with a political clout and desire to restrict the options, freedoms dignity and rights of others. Besides it is just rude to accept and invitation and then criticise your hosts.

  • JamesH

    So, what are you objecting to here? The fact that Catholics have a right to voice their opinions in Parliament? How very democratic.

    Can you show a link between anti-gay violence and Catholic preaching?

    Simply protesting against the Pope's teachings (which are not his opinions, to change as he will) is fine. But the NSS and Stonewall aren't interested in simply protesting. They want an incident.

  • Robinleslie

    A mere cursory glance at the British state and civil society warrants moral outrage as a member of the Westminster Archdiocese has already commented, Britain is a moral wasteland, The State has been made captive by Corporate interests, financial and business elites overdetermine the political agenda, and they are prepared to destroy any institutions that get in the way of their power. Mass education has been imposed on thje population narrowing the curriculum to a calculating logic calibrated to the labour market

    and the demands of employers. The Health service has beemn emasculated by private business, by franchising and powerful drug companies, the elderly are denied nutrition and water in a secret complicity

    between managers and medical staff to hasten their deaths. Poverty has doubled over 30 years leaving millions unable to cope. Children are taken away from their parents who cannot cope and resort to self-destructive behaviour. Miscarriages of justice still persist in spite of the establishment of a Crown Prosecution service. The prisons are overcrowded with petty offenders during a period when the Labour government criminalised hundreds of petty behaviours and extended police surveillance and control throughout the nation. The poor are stigmatised for being the vistims of a cruel and violent State. Personal and social relationships have been hollowed out and evacuated of their humanity in the service of the idolatry of money and power. The environment has been degraded, thousands of children and the elderly

    suffer from respiratory diseases, miles of green pasture has been tarmaced and people simply assume that they can continue to arrogantly appropriate space by machines and pour toxins into the air.

    Nobody can [pretend that there is much humanity or maturity left in the totalitarian bog that is called a 'democracy'.

    If you seriously think that anybody can possibly show any measure of respect to tyrants and psychotics

    then you need some sensitivity training.

  • Anonymous

    I bet you dare not show yourself now that the Pope has been and gone in such a wave of popular support. Morality is winning through again with the Pope as the driving force.