Catholics in England are worried about the level of anti-Catholic hostility that has exploded in their country a couple of months before a planned state visit by Pope Benedict XVI.
On one end are secularists, who are protesting the Sept. 16-19 visit. The most recent example is a petition started by a gay activist group to pressure the prime minister to denounce Catholic teachings on sexual morality and knock the pope for his handling of clerical sex abuse.
Then there are concerns about a group calling on members of Britain’s sizeable Muslim community to show up at the pontiff’s Birmingham Mass to “take this duel opportunity to give Da’wah to these 80,000 travelling disbelievers, whilst at the same time telling the pope in no uncertain terms what Muslims think of his evil slanders against the last Prophet of God and his message.”
So, a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Lancaster is standing up to “protect the pope.” Deacon Nick Donnelly, who is also an author for the Catholic Truth Society, has created www.protectthepope.com.
“When I talk to other Catholics about the Holy Father’s visit in September, most express concern about his safety,” he explained in the “About Us” section of the website. “The unprecedented level of hostility, ridicule and ill-will from certain public figures and sections of the press has got some Catholics genuinely worried that Pope Benedict is going to be embarrassed or even hurt.”
The goal of the website is threefold:
- Inform Catholics about the law concerning incitement of religious hatred, and provide police contacts for reporting incitement.
- Correct misinformation spread about the “person and actions” of Pope Benedict.
- Encourage prayers for the pope’s safety and the success of his visit.