Factbox – Planned Protests during Pope’s Visit to Britain

September 16, 2010

Official papal visit memorabilia at Catholic bookshop in London September 15, 2010/Toby Melville

Demonstrations are planned for Pope Benedict’s four-day state visit to England and Scotland, with the main focus likely to be on a Protest the Pope campaign march in central London Saturday, Sept 18.

Other separate protests are planned, including a bus poster campaign by a group supporting women’s ordination and a silent witness by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.

Here is an outline of some of the main protests likely to take to the streets:


– The American group SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say they will demonstrate with posters. A handful will fly over to join victims in England and Scotland.

– They want the pope to agree to a list being put up on diocesan websites that names all clerics who have been credibly accused, admitted or have been proven to have molested children.

– Few other victims groups say they will protest, but individual members, unhappy with what they say is a lack of support from the Roman Catholic Church, may join the march.


– Atheism UK, the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, and the Richmond-upon-Thames LGBT Forum, are among 21 groups that make up the coalition Protest the Pope campaign.

– Many object to the state paying for the visit, saying it is largely a religious trip.

– Many also oppose the Vatican’s stance on abortion, gay rights and resistance to the use of condoms in the fight against HIV-AIDS. There is also unhappiness at what is seen as the rehabilitation of a Holocaust denying bishop and moves to make wartime Pope Pius XII a saint.

– Organisers were called to a meeting with the Metropolitan Police and the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, a week before the march, during which the Protest the Pope campaign said it had no plans to be disruptive.

– High profile atheists have argued the pope should be arrested to face questions over the Catholic Church’s handling of the child-sex abuse scandal, as well as his own role in an alleged cover-up of abuse by priests.


– A fleet of buses will be plastered with the message “Pope Benedict — Ordain Women Now!” during the pope’s visit. The Catholic Women’s Ordination (CWO) group, which works within the Church to encourage debate and reform, has paid 15,000 pounds for the buses to pass London landmarks, including Westminster Hall where the pope is due to deliver a speech to civic leaders.


– Deep-seated suspicion of Catholicism and the papacy is still prevalent among some Protestants, including the former Northern Ireland first minister, preacher and firebrand Ian Paisley, who dubbed the papal invite a mistake.

– The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, the oldest and biggest Protestant fraternity in Scotland, with up to 50,000 members, will stage a silent protest during the pope’s visit to Edinburgh.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.