The champagne corks must have been popping aboard the papal jet as it took off from Birmingham last night as Gefreiter Ratzinger and the gang headed off back to world headquarters. The great Catholic marketing machine had done its stuff. As sales trips go, this had been a good one. Or had it?
Once the befrocked tifosi have time to reflect, and they see the sales figures, I think they may well conclude that it might have been better to keep Papa at home. Parading the genial old German around our streets in an ice cream van has only served to get us to focus on what is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church. So, the greatest beneficiary of the visit is…….? Papa’s bete noir, ‘aggressive secularism’ – what else!
Fry, Dawkins, Tatchell, Graying et al got it spot on in their letter to the Guardian last week. This should have not been a state visit. Is it likely that the hirsute resident of Lambeth Palace be accorded such an honour in Italy or in the Vatican City even? Not in a month of Sundays.
The question we should all be asking is, who was it that decided it should be a state visit? There is absolutely no transparency here. Up until now we have trusted those who organise these things, whoever they may be, not to accord the honour of a state visit to heads of state whose policies[sic] are known to cause misery and suffering. Clearly something has gone seriously wrong.