Much has been written about the costs of at least 12 million £ that British taxpayers will be stuck with for the “state visit” by the Pope to the UK in September 2010.
The argument that British taxpayers should not have to bear the costs because only a minority of them are Catholic does not convince me. After all, if the US President or the German Chancellor visit, the UK government also pays the full expenses even though only a small minority of Britons are American or German.
What disturbs me however is that the Pope uses every occasion of this “state visit” to criticise his host country: He criticises the secularism in Britain (does he think he’s on a crusade to convert the rest of us?). He called on his followers to “promote faith at every level of national life”, which sounds dangerously like a call to infiltrate society with their beliefs. He voices his “concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion” (this is called Enlightenment and it has been going on for a few centuries now, Mr Pope). He finds it horrible that religion could be “relegated to the purely private sphere” (that should go without saying that your religion is your private matter, and mine is mine). He wants us to publicly celebrate Christmas (no thanks, I also don’t force my festivals upon you). Of course he also attacks same-sex marriages and gay adoptions, institutions which have not only been voted for by the legislature of this country but which are also deemed to be unalienable human rights by British and European courts.
Any riposte from the Queen who invited the Pope or from the British government? Not that I could hear of. If it is now an integral part of a state visit that the foreign head of state criticises everything about our country and society, why don’t we invite Iranian President Ahmadinejad to spread his nonsense, or President Mugabe of Zimbabwe to explain how to effectively treat the opposition, or Russian Prime Minister Putin to lecture about voting reform?