Thousands protest at Pope's visit

Thousands of protesters gathered on the streets of London today to demonstrate against Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit.

Organisers estimated up to 10,000 were due to join the march to Downing Street in opposition to the papal tour.

Campaigners held aloft banners stating “the Pope is wrong – put a condom on” and “Pope protects paedophile priests” as they joined the march.

The action is supported by the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society among others.

Protesters cite a number of grievances against the Vatican’s stance on issues ranging from gay rights, the use of condoms and the Church’s response to clerical sex abuse.

Among those in attendance is human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The seasoned campaigner hit out at the use of taxpayers’ money being used to fund the visit.

He said: “The Vatican isn’t a state, it is not recognised as a country by the UN.

“To give the Pope head of state status is wrong and to give him immunity against prosecution is wrong – no one should be above the law.”

Mr Tatchell also criticised Pope Benedict’s homily at Westminster Cathedral stating that he did not go far enough in taking personal responsibility for the crimes of paedophile priests.

“The Pope keeps on apologising for the failings of everyone but himself,” he said.

“He hasn’t admitted his own shortcomings and even today he fails to hand over to police across the world the files he has kept on paedophile priests.

“That makes him an accomplice to sex crimes against children.”

Comedian Al Murray also figured among the crowd.

He said: “Like a lot of people I am a perplexed that it is a state visit.

“The Pope’s opposition to condoms kills people.

“It is all very well him lecturing us on morals but he should look at his own organisation’s view.”

Asked how his alter-ego The Pub Landlord would react to the visit, Murray replied “he doesn’t like it either but that is because he is a fan of Henry VIII because of his marriage arrangements”.

More on this topic

Pope bids farewell to BritainPope bids farewell to Britain

Police make sixth arrest in Pope 'plot'Police make sixth arrest in Pope 'plot'

Archbishop welcomes Pope to historic meetingArchbishop welcomes Pope to historic meeting

Five held over Pope 'plot'Five held over Pope 'plot'

More in this Section

Extinction Rebellion co-founder sorry for ‘crass words’ about HolocaustExtinction Rebellion co-founder sorry for ‘crass words’ about Holocaust

Corbyn declares war on rich and powerful with ‘manifesto of hope’Corbyn declares war on rich and powerful with ‘manifesto of hope’

Ukraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry toldUkraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry told

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu charged with fraud and briberyIsraeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu charged with fraud and bribery


This truck serves as an excellent metaphor for what needs to happen in our education system. A colossal truck needs to barge in front of it.Secret Diary of an Irish Teacher: Time to ditch private schools

Sorting out Cork people for ages...Ask Audrey: Is it still ok to just lob the gob after 10 pints?

Nip those winter ailments in the bud with the help of garden bounty. Fiann Ó Nualláin shows you how.Have a berry merry Christmas with the help of garden bounty

Dig a planting hole around three times the size of its pot and around the same depth, loosening the soil around the hole.Your quick guide to planting trees

More From The Irish Examiner