The Pope is due to visit Britain later this year, though that visit has been put in jeopardy by a leaked Foreign Office memo which made the silly suggestions that the Pope might open an abortion clinic, preside over a gay wedding and launch a new brand of 'Benedict' condoms while he was here.
This is the sort of puerile joking that young men are prone to when in their cups. The perpetrator, was probably still drunk when he circulated the 'joke' in an e-mail. Thanks to the Daily Telegraph we now know his name. Steven Mulvain was educated at the £9,279-a-year King’s School, Tynemouth, before studying English at Balliol College, Oxford. He taught at a summer school in northern Germany in 2006, where he said in a podcast that his hobbies included “drinking a lot and reading more or less what I want”.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said “Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naïve and disrespectful” and the department was “deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused”.
Mulvain has not been dismissed, but moved sideways in a curious reprise of the Catholic Church's response to the exposure of pedophile priests.
I happen to agree with the pope over abortion and gay marriage, though I believe that Roman Catholicism has it wrong on contraception and unmarried priests. I suspect that the pedophile problem is at least added to by the fact that RC priests don't marry, though this is more an indirect than a direct consequence. I suspect that the priesthood provides a sanctuary for those with pedophile tendency partly because those who are married are not competing for the posts, partly because of the availability of choirboys, partly because the Catholic Church is held in such high esteem in some places that parishioners will hear no word against it and partly because of the forgiving attitude of a church that believes in redemption. It has to be said that Islam has its own problems with pederasty, and most child abuse occurs within the family.
Nonetheless, the cover-up was unforgivable.