Pope supporters and detractors duel in liberal London

September 17, 2010

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(Photo: Supporters and protestors hold a signs while waiting for Pope Benedict to arrive at Westminster Abbey in London September 17, 2010./Suzanne Plunkett)

Pope Benedict is usually greeted by adulating crowds when he travels in Italy and other Catholic countries but he was treated to a mixed reception in London. Protesters, many angered by a sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church worldwide, shouted “anti-Christ” and “Pope will go to hell” as the pope drove through the heart of London on Friday in a bullet-proof popemobile.

Hundreds booed aggressively as he arrived at Westminster Abbey in London’s historic core to celebrate Evening Prayer — one of the religious focal points of his four-day visit to Britain. Papal supporters at times tried to steal the momentum by chanting “We love you pope” but in most cases were quickly drowned out by boos and whistles.

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Photo: Protesters outside St Mary’s University College in London, September 17, 2010/Andrew Winning)

Waving banners reading “Betrayed”, protesters included activists rallying against child sex abuse allegations as well as Protestants, gays and women rights campaigners.

“To make a papal visit into a state visit is unheard of,” said John Shearer, 74, a Protestant man holding a leaflet reading “Rome’s Betrayal of Christ”.

“We are not a Catholic country,” he said.” Another protester, Robert Stewart from Scotland, shouted: “He is a usurper!”

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(Photo: Demonstrators and the media wait for Pope Benedict XVI to depert from Westminster Abbey in London September 17, 2010/Suzanne Plunkett)

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