Catholic peer Pat­ten is put in charge of Pope’s visit

Daily Mail - - Life -

DAVID Cameron has put a Ro­man Catholic Con­ser­va­tive grandee in charge of the Pope’s visit to Bri­tain.

The ap­point­ment of Lord Pat­ten of Barnes, for­mer party chair­man and Hong Kong gover­nor, is an at­tempt to ease the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing Pope Bene­dict’s au­tumn tour.

News of the visit was first made pub­lic, in de­fi­ance of pro­to­col, by Gor­don Brown last year.

Then, dur­ing Labour’s last days in power, the tour was thrown into jeop­ardy af­ter the leak of a mock­ing For­eign Of­fice memo sug­gest­ing the Pope could use the trip to open an abor­tion clinic and bless a gay mar­riage.

That fi­asco led to charges from the Vat­i­can that ‘dark forces’ were at work within White­hall and saw grov­el­ling apolo­gies from two min­is­ters.

Mr Cameron’s choice of Lord Pat­ten as his ‘per­sonal rep­re­sen­ta­tive’ to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the visit is a re­buke to the For­eign Of­fice and an at­tempt to mol­lify the Catholic hi­er­ar­chy.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Eng­land and Wales said: ‘We wel­come the ap­point­ment. This will en­able plans to move into a de­ci­sive phase.’

Lord Pat­ten was cred­ited with en­gi­neer­ing John Ma­jor’s 1992 elec­tion win. Af­ter los­ing his seat he be­came the last Gover­nor of Hong Kong.

He is cur­rently Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity’s Chan­cel­lor.

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