Stephen Fry: Pope Should Not Have a ‘State’ Visit
BBC 15 September 2010
More than 50 public figures have added their names to a letter in the Guardian newspaper saying the Pope should not be given the “honour” of a UK state visit.
Authors Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman and actor Stephen Fry are among those critical of the Vatican record on birth control, gay rights and abortion.
Stephen Fry told the BBC why he signed the letter.
David Cameron has said the Pope’s visit will be a “very special four days”.
A Catholic spokesman said the prime minister’s comments were an “excellent response to this open letter”.
Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Scotland and England begins on Thursday.
Other signatories to the letter in the Guardian include: Professor Richard Dawkins, Ken Follett, AC Grayling, Stewart Lee, Claire Rayner, Lord Foulkes, Lord Hughes, Professor Steve Jones, Sir Jonathan Miller, Lord Taverne, Peter Tatchell and Baroness Turner.
They say the Pope “as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country”.
But they say the Vatican has “been responsible for: Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation”.
The letter goes on to say it has also resisted signing many major human rights treaties and has formed its own treaties with states which “negatively affect the human rights of citizens of those states”.
continued, including video: richarddawkins.net