Britain counts cost of Benedict’s visit
– Terry Sanderson is President of the National Secular Society. The opinions expressed are his own.-
When the Government is about to announce a 25 percent cut in public spending, the tens of millions of pounds showered on Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain seem like real papal indulgence.
The government contribution to this religious jamboree is currently £12 million (up from £8 million), but what we haven’t been told is how much the over-the-top security operation wil cost.
We have tried through Freedom of Information requests to get some idea, but so far we’ve been stonewalled.
Now the chief constable of South Yorkshire, who is co-ordinating the four police forces who are looking after the visit, says his best guess is around £1.5 million.
Four days at £10 million a day and then the £12 million staging costs on top of it. It’s mounting up.
And all because the Pope is supposed to be head of a state, something styling itself “the Holy See”.
But it doesn’t qualify as a state under any conventional definition. Its geographical centre, the Vatican, is no larger than a golf course, it has no citizens (just priests and nuns who work there) and the much vaunted ‘diplomatic representatives’ are all located across the street in Italy, where we already have an embassy with proper diplomats.
By manipulating the treaty it signed with Mussolini, the Holy See has managed to persuade the world that it really is a bona fide state and it has assumed for itself all the privileges of a state — but very few of the responsibilities.
It has observer status at the United Nations, which it uses — often in concert with tyrannical Islamic regimes, like Iran — to thwart human rights legislation of which it does not approve.
In reality it is a fake state, something the world needs urgently to acknowledge. Britain should lead the way in calling its bluff.