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Foreign Office apologises for Pope 'condom' memo

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Apr 25, 2010.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

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    Apr 25, 2010
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    The Foreign Office has apologised for a "foolish" document which suggested the Pope's visit to the UK could be marked by the launch of "Benedict" condoms.
    Called "The ideal visit would see...", it said the pope could be invited to open an abortion clinic and bless a gay marriage during September's visit.

    The Foreign Office stressed the paper, which resulted from a "brainstorm" on the visit, did not reflect its views.
    The junior civil servant responsible had been put on other duties, it said.
    Details of the document emerged after it was obtained by the Sunday Telegraph.

    'Song with Queen'
    The UK's ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell, has met senior officials of the Holy See to express regret on behalf of the government.
    Foreign Secretary David Miliband is said to have been "appalled" by the incident.

    The paper was attached as one of three "background documents" to a memo dated 5 March 2010 inviting officials in Whitehall and Downing Street to attend a meeting to discuss themes for the papal visit.
    It suggested Benedict XVI could show his hard line on the sensitive issue of child abuse allegations against Roman Catholic priests by "sacking dodgy bishops" and launching a helpline for abused children.
    The document went on to propose the Pope could apologise for the Spanish Armada or sing a song with the Queen for charity.
    It listed "positive" public figures who could be made part of the Pope's visit, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and 2009 Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle, and those considered "negative", such as Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins.

    The civil servant responsible for sending round the memo said in a cover note: "Please protect; these should not be shared externally. The 'ideal visit' paper in particular was the product of a brainstorm which took into account even the most far-fetched of ideas."

    An investigation was launched after some recipients of the memo, said to have been circulated to a restricted list, objected to its tone.
    A Foreign Office spokesman said the department was "deeply sorry" for any offence the document had caused.

    "This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect UK government or Foreign Office policy or views. Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful," he said.
    "The text was not cleared or shown to ministers or senior officials before circulation. As soon as senior officials became aware of the document, it was withdrawn from circulation.

    "The individual responsible has been transferred to other duties. He has been told orally and in writing that this was a serious error of judgement and has accepted this view."
     
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