Ken Follett slams Pope’s state visit

BEST-SELLING author and Old Knebworth resident Ken Follett has slammed Pope Benedict XVI ahead of his state visit to the UK.

The millionaire novelist, 61, hit out at the pontiff, born Joseph Ratzinger, in an open letter to the Guardian newspaper.

Other signatories of the letter include comedian Stephen Fry, fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett and renowned atheist Professor Richard Dawkins.

They accept that the Pope is free to enter and tour the UK but believe that he should not be given the “honour” of a state visit.

Their stance, they say, is because the Vatican has “been responsible for: opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation”.

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The letter continues by saying that the Vatican has resisted signing many major human rights treaties and has formed its own concordats with countries which “negatively affect the human rights of citizens of those states”.

It adds that the signatories “reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state, and the Pope as a head of state, as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican”.

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The Pope’s tour of England and Scotland begins tomorrow and is the first Papal visit since Pope John Paul II came to the UK in 1982.

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