Pope recorded the three-minute slot in Rome earlier today, according to the BBC

Pope Benedict XVI is to deliver Radio 4’s Thought for the Day on Christmas Eve, it emerged today.

The idea that the Pope might present the programme during his visit to Britain was raised by Mark Thompson, the Catholic BBC director-general, in Rome in February this year. But it seemed like the suggestion had been dismissed.

Gwyneth Williams, the controller of Radio 4, said today: “I’m delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience.

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“It’s significant that the Pope has chosen Thought For The Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast – and what better time to do so than on the eve of the biggest celebration on the Christian calendar.”

The Pope recorded the three-minute slot, due to be aired at 7.45am on Friday morning, in Rome earlier today, according to the BBC.

The National Secular Society has criticised the BBC for allowing Pope Benedict XVI to speak “uninterrupted and unchallenged”.

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