Vatican says 'case closed' in British gaffe over pope's visit

26th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Vatican moved Sunday to calm the waters after a British official document suggested the pope should open an abortion clinic and bless a gay marriage during his visit later this year.

"For us the case is closed," said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi after Britain's Foreign Office issued an apology following the publication of the internal document by the British newspaper the Sunday Telegraph.

A cover note on the document said it was produced in a brainstorming session and accepted that some of the ideas -- which also suggested Pope Benedict XVI should launch a line of condoms -- were "far-fetched".

The incident will have "absolutely" no impact on the pope's visit in September, Lombardi told the ANSA news agency, noting the Foreign Office's apology on Saturday.

Britain's ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, apologised in person to his Vatican counterpart, Lombardi added.

The Times of London's online edition said the document had caused "enormous anger" in Rome, and that unnamed sources thought the pope's "entire visit could now be in jeopardy".

The Foreign Office apologised for what it described as a "foolish" document and said the individual responsible -- a junior civil servant in his 20s -- had been transferred to other duties.

"The Foreign Office very much regrets this incident and is deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused," it said.

© 2010 AFP

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