Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Reply from MP

My MP got back to me on the attempts to get the Pope to visit. The reply was (trimming out header and footer)

I support the invitation to the Pope. While I do not agree with many of the Pope's views, we should focus on entering into dialogue, not censor what he has to say. I believe a Papal visit to the North East would help also to raise the region's profile.

The point about raising the region's profile is fair enough - the region is not doing well economically, and more tourism and investment would help with some the severe social problems this is causing. However, there are plenty of other well-known public figures with less problematic views who could also be invited. If they have been, there's been no public announcement of this.

As far as censoring goes... he's the Pope. He's the head of the largest branch of the world's most popular religion, and is unlikely to have trouble getting his opinions out (the over-emphasis on his opinions is a large part of the problem). I find it very difficult to believe that any dialogue will be entered into on these subjects if he does come up to Durham: I suspect a condition of his visit might be that there are security arrangements in place to avoid such questions.

There's quite a large difference between censoring someone and not explicitly inviting them to say it here. I know my MP knows this, of course.