Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pope Thursday: What the papers say

Cardinal Kasper's gaffe makes the front pages of the Mail ('What an unholy welcome to Britain'), the Guardian ('Pope flies into row over aide's race remarks') and the Times ('Vatican left to rue 'Third World' jibe').

The Telegraph front page runs with a pledge by Tory party chairman Baroness Warsi to "restore faith to the heart of Britain". She says the Government "understands faith" and wants religious groups to play a greater role in British public life. Addressing Anglican bishops yesterday she said they would have "more power, more responsibility, and more choice", and that faith groups were "at the heart of society" and "key to its future". She criticised the previous Government's record, saying faith was treated as being a matter of "oddities, foreigners and minorities".

The speech is a strategic attempt to position the Government as close to Pope Benedict's expected message on Friday at Westminster Hall tomorrow.

The Independent re-establishes its itself as the voice of secularism by ignoring the visit altogether on its front page, instead advertising a piece by Richard Dawkins. On its comments page, the pope is caricatured in a cartoon as weary and blood-stained.

The Times offers a 16-page souvenir guide to the papal visit -- even before it has started. Articles by Ed Stourton, Lord Patten, Mary Kenny, Eamon Duffy, Sheridan Gilley, James MacMillan, Anna Arco and  William Oddie. 

inside the paper, a cartoon shows the popemobile pulling suitcases marked "anti-gay", "child abuse", and so on.

The Guardian carries an extensive report on calls by abuse victims for "truth, justice and accountability" from the Church. Four Catholics offer their views about the papal visit. A Steve Bell cartoon shows the Pope coming off an aeroplane declaring "Hello Third Vorld" and "It's raining schvarzers und atheists".

The Telegraph leader offers a "heartfelt welcome" for Benedict XVI, who holds up a mirror to Britain, the paper thinks. "What kind of people are we?" It concludes that "for Britons of all beliefs, the Pope's visit is a good thing".

The Mail meanwhile dedicates pages to the "atheist hate campaign" against the Pope, pegged to the letter yesterday to the Guardian signed by 50 celebrities, including Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling, Philip Pullman, Peter Tatchell, Geoffrey Robertson, Polly Toynbee and Andrew Copson. In its leader, the Mail accuses the atheists of "gross discourtesy to an honoured guest".