LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Foreign Office apologised yesterday for a memorandum by a civil servant suggesting Pope Benedict should open a hospital abortion ward when he visits Britain this year.
The document, which was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, also included the proposals that the pope should bless a gay marriage and launch papal-branded condoms when he comes to Britain in September.
The paper said the ideas, ridiculing the teachings of the Catholic Church against abortion and contraception, resulted from a “brainstorm” session. It said Britain’s ambassador to the Vatican had expressed the government’s regret to senior officials there.
“This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect UK government or FCO policy or views,” a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. “Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful.”
The paper said the proposals, drawn up by a junior civil servant in a memo headlined “The ideal visit would see…” were circulated among officials in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street office and at the Foreign Office.
The document, which had a cover note admitting that some of the plans were “far-fetched”, also alluded to sex scandals involving paedophile priests in a number of countries by suggesting Pope Benedict should launch a helpline for abused children.