The build-up to the Pope’s visit to Britain has not been without controversy. I am hoping His Holiness’ visit goes well, not just because I am a Catholic, but because if it does, it will reflect well on our country and our values of tolerance, respect and openness.
The Pope is not just a religious leader but also a Head of State and as such is entitled to be welcomed here with the same grace and respect as any other world leader. He is also entitled to be welcomed and heard without some of the unpleasantness and intolerance that has been shown towards him and his forthcoming visit in recent weeks. Sadly, I expect to see this anti-Catholic, anti-Pope vitriol to increase over the next few weeks. This is regrettable.
I do not expect everyone in Britain to support the Church or the views the Pope takes, or to suppress their strong views in our free society, but I hope that they will be tolerant, respectful and fair to the Pope. I would expect other faith leaders to receive the same treatment; why should the Pope be any different?