Wednesday, September 15, 2010

From the PM: Welcome, B16

His Tiber-swimming predecessor having made a Roman splash on this Visit Eve, earlier today the following PopeTrip message emerged from the current occupant of 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron:

Head of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that emerged victorious from May's General Election which ended 13 years of Labour rule, the PM, his deputy -- the Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg -- and the acting Labour leader Harriet Harman will each have courtesy visits with the Pope on Saturday morning at Archbishop's House, Westminster.

The last of the three should be particularly interesting; in her post as Equalities Minister under Gordon Brown, Harman was the lead champion for a successful Equality Bill that, according to one interpretation widely floated in church circles (but later clarified as erroneous), would've made a celibate, male-only priesthood illegal. Similarly, a 2009 piece of legislation pushed by the interim Labour chief and passed into law mandated that Britain's Catholic adoption agencies faciltate adoptions by same-sex couples -- a quandary which, given the law's collision with church teaching, either saw the agencies become independent of the church or forced their closure. Last month, the last adoption agency battling the law lost its fight to remain open while maintaining the heterosexual-couples only prescription of church teaching.

In his ad limina address to the bishops of England and Wales last February -- as the debate over the Equality Bill heated up -- the pontiff himself blasted the trend of the legislation as having served "to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.

"In some respects," Benedict added, the set of policy changes "actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed."