Secularists have threatened massive protests if London hosts the Vatican’s World Youth Day in 2016.
A campaign for London to host the event has been started by Fr Stephen Wang, a Priest in the Diocese of Westminster.
He said that the UK is the next obvious choice for the event after it was recently staged in Spain, France, Italy and Germany, and he said the English Church could "put forward a fantastic proposal."
The suggestion has met with disapproval from Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society.
He said: "The last time the Pope came to this country, the resentment he sparked about the amount of public money wasted on the trip was immense. Despite the Church's attempts to talk up the 'success' of the visit, its own research showed that it was actually a dismal failure.
"If the Church decides to bring World Youth Day to Britain, it can expect big protests about any public money spent on such sectarian propaganda."
But writing on his blog Fr Wang said there had ‘never been a better time’ for the event to be held in the UK.
He said: “There will never be a better time: post-Papal Visit, post-Olympics, the faith and energy of young Catholics here, the pull of the English language, and just when the faith in this country is being revitalised and renewed.
“WYD [World Youth Day] has already been to Poland, France, Italy, German and Spain – it’s time to come to the UK!
“London would be the hub and the focus for the main events and the final Mass – not many cities can compare in terms of venues, open spaces, vitality, cosmopolitan life, culture, history, public transport, food possibilities, entertainment, media connections, and the diversity of people and communities, etc. This is why we won the Olympics.
“Then, from a Catholic perspective, there is the sheer number of Catholic parishes, communities and movements in such a concentrated space. And not many cities are home to three Catholic dioceses.”
But the National Secular Society claims that the event would cost a lot of public money, and would not attract tourists: "We will not accept that the event brings in large amounts of money in tourism revenue as the Church traditionally claims. The experience of other countries has been that tourists stay away to avoid such an event," Mr Sanderson added.
January 19th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross