Pope Benedict’s visit to Twickenham was met by angry protestors on Friday
By Benedict Munden
Pope Benedict’s visit to Twickenham was met by angry protestors on Friday.
The Pope set out from his Wimbledon base on the second day of a four-day state visit to give an assembly to children at St. Mary’s University.
Protestors, largely from gay-rights and secularist groups, lined the streets. They were addressed by guest speakers including activist, Peter Tatchell, who once tried a citizens’ arrest on Robert Mugabe.
‘Science flew man to the moon, Religion flies men into buildings,’ read one of the banners greeting the Pope.
The Pope’s visit was marred by recent and well-publicised controversies.
On the first day, the Pope criticised Britain’s ‘aggressive secularism’ and said sufficient respect was not shown for traditional values.
Only hours before his arrival a senior adviser compared landing in multicultural England to entering a third-world country.
The visit also followed recent abuse scandals which many protestors felt the Vatican was slow and ineffective in dealing with.
“Shame on you,” shouted the crowd when the Pope’s car left.
Following Mr Tatchell’s speech, in which he spoke of gay rights, tensions mounted when a man with a microphone addressed the crowd calling homosexuality an abomination.
A flurry of whistles responded in an attempt to drown out his remarks.
“It was unbelievable,” said Angela Buckler, who came down from Woking.
“He was just being antagonistic and homophobic. What did he think he’ll achieve?”
Another protestor, Helen Vince, objected to the religious flyers and newspapers being handed out.
“I don’t want to be told God will save me, they are not going to change my mind,” said Miss Vince.
“It is a waste of trees.”
The Pope left his Wimbledon base on Sunday and was seen off by a large and supportive crowd.
In Greater London on Saturday it was estimated between 10,000-15,000 people marched in opposition to his state visit.