Fallout From Leaked Memo Lampooning Pope's Visit

Vatican has accepted apology from British Foreign Office for leaked memo.

ByABC News
April 26, 2010, 12:00 PM

LONDON, April 26, 2010— -- The British Foreign Office has publicly apologized for an internal planning memo on the pope's upcoming visit to the United Kingdom that suggested he open an abortion clinic, launch his own line of "Benedict" condoms and sing a duet with the queen.

The document, exposed in a U.K. newspaper Sunday, was the product of a junior-level planning meeting for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to England and Scotland in September.

Suggestions for the pope also included blessing a gay marriage, sacking "dodgy" bishops and apologizing for the Spanish Armada. The memo circulated from the Foreign Office to Whitehall and Downing Street under the title "The ideal visit would see ..." but was not cleared by senior officials. As soon as senior officials became aware of the document, it was immediately withdrawn, according to the Foreign Office.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband immediately asked his ambassador to the Vatican to apologize to Vatican officials.

The leaked memo will not affect the pope's visit to the U.K., one such official confirmed today.

The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican accepted the Foreign Office's apology.

"For us, the issue is thus closed and will absolutely not change anything regarding the pope's visit to the U.K. planned for September," he said.

The Foreign Office told ABC News that the leader of the brainstorming meeting where the memo originated had been reprimanded and demoted, and said appropriate action had been taken regarding the "clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful" document.

"This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect U.K. government or FCO policy or views. ...The text was not cleared or shown to ministers or senior officials before circulation, said the Foreign Office.

In addition, the office denied reports that a 23-year-old civil servant wrote the document. Steven Mulvain, an Oxford graduate and personal assistant, was just "unfortunately the man who had to distribute" the document, refuting reports in the U.K. press that Mulvain was the author. "All of a sudden, his reputation has been tarred. He is completely innocent."