Britain apologises over papal ‘condoms’ document

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.

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