Voluntary Sector: Taking Action - Protest the Pope vs The Roman Catholic Church

Protesters: Protest the Pope
Target: The Roman Catholic Church
Location: London
Date: 18 September

The lowdown

An estimated 20,000 Protest the Pope supporters marched through London from Hyde Park to Downing Street on Saturday in a rally. Leading the protest was human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has called on the Vatican to release to police any documents it has about the abuse of children by priests.

Why the protests?

Protest the Pope, an umbrella group bringing together a dozen humanist, atheist, secular and gay rights groups, opposed Benedict XVI being welcomed to the UK as a head of state, with the UK taxpayer paying for much of the visit. Opponents of the trip include victims of child abuse, human rights campaigners and secularists who are angry at the Vatican's stance on homosexuality, abortion and contraception, among other issues.

How did the Church respond?

While the Church has not responded, Catholic Voices co-ordinator Austen Ivereigh said Protest the Pope was a loosely aligned group with an intellectual position that had no popular support.

'I don't think any of them represent serious public opinion,' he told the BBC.

Media treatment

The Pope's visit was the subject of intense media scrutiny and protests formed part of or major lead stories in all of the nationals, plus broadcast news.

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