The U.K. government apologized for a memo by a civil servant suggesting Pope Benedict should open a hospital abortion ward when he visits Britain this year.
The document also included the proposals that the pope should bless a gay marriage and launch papal-branded condoms when he comes to Britain in September.
The ideas, ridiculing the teachings of the Catholic Church against abortion and contraception, resulted from a “brainstorm” session. Britain’s ambassador to the Vatican had expressed the government’s regret.
“This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect U.K. government or FCO policy or views,” a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
The proposals, drawn up by a junior civil servant in a memo headlined “The ideal visit would see ...,” were circulated among officials in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street.
The document, which had a cover note admitting that some of the plans were “far-fetched,” also alluded to sex scandals involving paedophile priests in a number of countries by suggesting Pope Benedict should launch a help line for abused children.
Other ideas included getting the pontiff to perform forward rolls with children to promote healthy living and even performing a duet with Queen Elizabeth.
The Foreign Office said the individual responsible had been moved to other duties. “He has been told orally and in writing that this was a serious error of judgement and has accepted this view,” the spokesman said.
Last night U.K. media said the cancellation of the visit was being considered by the Vatican.