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The Pope to Broadcast Thought for the Day on Christmas Eve

Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to London in September 2010.

BBC Radio 4 has just made this announcement:

Pope Benedict XVI, will deliver his Thought For The Day on Radio 4, Friday 24th December at 7.45am.

Pope Benedict's Christmas message to the British people follows his UK visit in September. In an unprecedented move - the Pope has not presented material specifically written for a radio or television audience before - Pope Benedict recorded Thought For The Day in Rome on Wednesday 22nd December.

Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4 said: "I'm delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience. It's significant that the Pope has chosen Thought for the Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast - and what better time to do so than on the eve of one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar."

Thought for the Day is broadcast within the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 at 7.45am Monday - Saturday. It offers approximately three minutes of personal reflection from faith leaders and believers from a range of religious denominations. Those contributing to the programme have included Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Indarjit Singh and Mona Siddiqui.

Thought for the Day was first broadcast in 1970, succeeding earlier religious thought strands Ten to Eight (1965-1970) and Lift Up Your Hearts on the BBC Home Service (1939-1965).


  • Comment number 1.

    That the Pope is to deliver his Thought For The Day will serve only to enrage the great many reasonable Radio 4 listeners who would like less religious proselytising on the station. Once again Gwyneth Williams has shown her great enthusiasm for religious broadcasting (she expressed great support for "Bible Day" which will be broadcast in January) at a time when listeners are questioning why Radio 4 gives free publicity to various religions selected by certain BBC personnel.

    I hope that the Pope's message will provide some comfort to the great many children throughout the world who were raped and abused by Catholic paedophile priests.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am very disappointed the BBC, in particular R4, continues to promote a secretive, non accountable and homophobic organisation such as the RC church. How can listeners and viewers view the BBC as an organisation which believes in the rights of all and promote free speech when the church does everything but promote equality and diversity but remains entrenched in a very distant past.
    It is about time the BBC stopped offering prime time opportunities to the church.
    Another very sad day for the BBC and someone within the BBC should prevent this broadcast.

  • Comment number 3.

    The Pope and John Humphries? Rottweiler fight, anyone?

  • Comment number 4.

    I am with martin smith on this one. It is time the BBC put a condom upon any mention of the RC until they confess their sins!

    SSC, I do so hope so.

  • Comment number 5.

    I assume Christopher Hitchens has the Saturday slot, given the BBC's obligation to avoid bias.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am appalled to see that the BBC "has been negotiating with the Vatican for a number of months" regarding the Pope's appearance on Radio 4's flagship Today programme. What is there to negotiate? The BBC is not a platform for RC propaganda. The Christian Church, particularly the branch represented by the blinkered and represive Roman faction, is not omnipotent. Perhaps the Pope will be showing his genuine understanding of the message of "Christmas" by emptying the vast coffers of the Vatican Bank, its treasures and visible trophies; such assets being liquidated to benefit the suffering needy of the world, many of whom (particularly in the Third World) are forced into suffering by RC dogma.

    I look forward to subsequent Thought for the Day slots being given to Humanist and other nontheistic beliefs. We are a multi-cultural pluralist society in this country encompassing a wide spectrum of beliefs and non-beliefs. It is time the BBC, as a non-donimational organisation, accepted this.

  • Comment number 10.

    As a listener who has been complaining to the BBC for a great many about the fact that humanists and atheists are not permitted to broadcast on 'Thought for the Day,' all I can say is I am not surprised at this new low.

    Well the nanny that is Aunty Beeb will obviously give the petulant children, namely the listeners, what she thinks they need, rather than what we want.

    I for one will turn off the radio when 'His Holiness' ponticifates on Friday the 24th.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Goodness, what a lot tetchy people out there. Religion has been incredibly margined on the Beeb in recent decades. These Scrooges wish deny the Pope a couple of minutes on the Today? How sad.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    I am not a Roman Catholic, although I am a practising Protestant Christian and one whom has just graduated with a Theology degree. Whilst I appreciate the generic concern that many here have voiced over problems in the institution of the Catholic Church (I myself would share them), I would like to point out the charitable nature required by all people to fully appreciate this slot.

    Whilst many of the arch-apoinents to the Pope seem outraged because, just because, his Christmas message may not fit with their worldview, please remember that many of the underlying theologies of the Sheik, Islamic, Jewish (although certainly less so) 'thoughts' would not be congruent with my particular worldview as an Evangelical. Even some of the more liberal Anglican sentiments would not sit entirely comfortably with myself.

    My point is this - why should we want to live in a world where every voice that does not totally agree with our own is silenced? I am perfectly happy to listen to, reflect upon and learn from voices which come from minds formed differently from my own, and am prepared to be challenged. After all, I am not merely 'religious' - I am a Christian. Therefore, a Theological gulf exists between me and people of other faiths, something highlighted by the Christmas message of Emmanuel (God with us in Christ and by none other). I am convinced that in cases this theological gulf between I and people of other religions can be almost of large as that between people of no faith and any particular religion. I would thus argue that there is a similar clash of worldviews when I listen to Indarjit Singh as to when an Atheist listens to a Christian contributor such as the Pope.

    So I'm not a Catholic, and the next man may be an Atheist... but the Pope has something to say. Surely we can offer the common dignity by listening and giving sober, quiet reflection before ranting. Let us be more willing to listen to other voices with peace and respect.

  • Comment number 15.

    People are being silenced by Thought for the Day, don't be an atheist, or an agnostic, or demonstrate any basic intelligence. simply say you believe in fairies at the end of the garden or some similar nonsense, and there is your two minutes. Simply disgraceful

  • Comment number 16.

    Will he say " Obviously I am sorry all those priests raped all those children. Those secularists though. They don't understand us. We believe in 2000 year old nonsense. Prove it they say. How can we? Our faith tells us believe. We don't know why. we can't prove it. But at least we have morals. Not like those secularists. we think abortion is wrong even if the mother has been raped, or is in danger of dying. Secularists just don't get it do they? Why can't they? it frustrates me. Being in the Hitler youth I had hoped to visit Britain in the forties, but hey! Better late than never!! Have a happy christmas all you believers! regardless of the fact this is all nonsense just say you believe!! They can't argue back!!"

  • Comment number 17.

    The Pope will appear on 'Today's' 'Thought for the day' on Radio 4.

    Allowing the Pope to appear on 'Thought for The Day' you are giving voice to his heinous views about anyone who does not concur with the Catholic Value System. Whilst I am happy for other people to have their own beliefs, I will not be told by anyone that my beliefs and attitudes are wrong. And I will certainly not permit any so called religious hypocrite to tell me about morals.

    Please explain why you have let this man on your show. It beggars belief that the head of an organisation that is so homophobic, sexist and bigotted, that has allowed until recently the spread of HIV/AIDS through its obviously outmoded views on prevention of STDs, and has tacitly condoned the sexual molestation of children by doing almost nothing to stop it, should be given any more air time.

    This smacks of double standards, and should be reconsidered. This man and his attitudes are dangerous. They breed intolerance in a world that is already too full of misery and stress.

    Sort it out. Get this man of the air.

  • Comment number 18.

    I shall tune-in to Thought For The Day, specifically to be able to remember that, "I was there", on what is actually going to be a momentous occasion.
    A non-Roman Catholic country, broadcasting potentially core contentious comments on national prime-time ..... Brilliant !
    Whatever your personal views, and I'm certainly not an RC, this one has got to be worth listening to.
    Well Done, the BBC !

    Merry Christmas, and a thought-provoking New-Year.

  • Comment number 19.

    Could the BBC please let me know exactly when this misguided item is about to be broadcast so that I can switch off in advance?

  • Comment number 20.

    I will have to just cheak that we are in 2010 and not in HENRY Tudor times. Why do the English hate the cathorlic church so much. The C of E is a church of perpetual change chassing its persived congragation around year on year with out improving its standing. At least I know year on year were my church stands. I dont agree with every thing the church spouts but it is constant a rock in shifting sands.I am nerver embarist to say I am a catholic but some times it is hard.

  • Comment number 21.

    i for one will not be listening to this man with his vile morals!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I do not understand why my earlier post should have been referred for "further consideration". I wrote nothing but the truth.

    This unjustified censorship of a Radio 4 listener's fair-minded comment is of great concern. The impartiality of the BBC has been called into question and this censorship is prima facie evidence that the BBC in matters of religion is not impartial.

    The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is himself a "devout" Catholic and that he personally approached the Vatican about getting the Pope to record his message.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's the celebratory tone of the PR that grates with me. It's not a victory. It's not something to gloat over!

    A religious leader talks on a religious slot on the radio. For us secular types (the majority?) it's a non story. I won;t be listening.

    If he presented Top of The Pops that would be a story.

    Just don't show off BBC, it demeans you.

  • Comment number 24.

    Unbelievable! What next? Nick Griffin brought in to do the Queens Speech?

  • Comment number 25.

    I think it is a fantastic scoop for the BBC and particularly 'Thought for the Day' to invite the Pope to give a 3 minute message - 'an unprecedented move'. Perhaps he will inspire us perhaps he won't, but I am sure that he will thank the vaste majority of the British public for the tumultous welcome he received during his moving visit in September. I for one will definitely switching on my radio.

  • Comment number 26.

    I hope His Holiness will start by denouncing the actions of his predecessor Pius V who, in 1570, issued a bull (Regnans In Excelis) which excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I and purported to depose her and to release Roman Catholics in England from their oaths of loyalty to their legitimate Queen.

    He should apologize to Queen Elizabeth II, and admit that no Pope can or ever could depose a monarch recognized by the parliament of the UK.

  • Comment number 27.

    Eric wrote:

    "I hope His Holiness will start by denouncing the actions of his predecessor Pius V who, in 1570, issued a bull (Regnans In Excelis) which excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I and purported to depose her and to release Roman Catholics in England from their oaths of loyalty to their legitimate Queen."

    It is not the place of the Catholic Church to apologise for a bull which was issued against a protestant queen who was actively persecuting Catholics, and was furthermore a usurper to the throne of England, taking it from the legitimate heir, Mary Queen of Scots. Maybe the outmoded Royal Family should do the apologising, and give back the title of 'Defender of the (Catholic) Faith' bestowed up on Henry VIII before he fancied a bit on the side and plunged England (and Ireland) into a religious war that would last for centuries. As for apologising to Queen Elizabeth II, this comment is incomprehensible to say the least. The British Royal family has changed its bloodline more than most men change their socks. At least Mother Church has remained constant throughout nearly 2000 years. Not many organisations can make that claim.

    Blessings at Christmas to all.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a atheist with a healthy curiosity, i listen to TFTD each morning, and some days i gain something, some days it just makes me think more, other days i am just confused! That is good. I have no problem with all the denominations having an input, HOWEVER.....

    I feel that the show would benefit from a secular view point, along with all the others. I am sorry this is glaringly missing from a fabulous programme. Not believing in a greater being, does not meant we don't believe in something good.

    I am certain the Pope will be received by his followers with avid joy, and i will be listening to what he has to say too, but i would love it, if others could hear a little more of the secular view of being good/kind and decent, and rejoice in it as i do listen to their word.

    We need to learn from one another, but how do we do that if we don't hear all the voices?


  • Comment number 29.

    How long does 'further consideration' of my view take? (No13) I have been waiting over seven hours. If it breaches house rules tell me how. If anything is not factual tell me and I will apologise. Otherwise this withdrawal only demonstrates the BBC's and in particular Mark Thompson's lack of commitment to free speech. I see another contributor complains of the same censorship here.

    I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi AnAntiChrist,

    Maybe as your username suggests, the BBC and other grown up people would imagine your views to be simply puerile or purposely agitating. Free speech does not necessarily allow for anyone childish ranting in what should be a relatively adult discussion.

    If I changed my username to anantidevil, or anantisexbeforemarriage, I would expect any adults to treat my comments with the disdain that they ask for.

    PS. You can't have'an' Antichrist. There can by definition only be one. You might purport to be a follower of the AntiChrist, which in turn implies that you do actually believe in a Christ. Without a Christ, you couldn't possibly have an antiChrist.

    Blessings of Christ this Christmas. x

  • Comment number 31.

    It is about time BBC employed personnel in positions of power were held accountable for their actions. Allowing the RC church a prime time slot only offers the RC church more credibility and wider promotion. It is about time the BBC senior management and DG published their religious beliefs for the purpose of transparency and accountability to the very people who pay his huge salary and wonderful pension.
    I am in favour of free speech and have no issues with the RC church broadcasting on the internet, producing their own literature or even producing their own show and paying Sky or ITV to broadcast it. However, I do object to my compulsory paid licence fee tax being spent to promote an organisation which has a long and less than credible history. Some within the RC church knew child abuse was occurring yet took an age to do anything about it. Does the BBC think people have a short memory?
    People in positions of power within the BBC should be responsible and accountable for their actions and justify why certain blogs have been removed and censored.
    A very sad day for the BBC, which continues to display an arrogance, which is even more painful as the BBC, is supported through a compulsory tax.
    I wonder if this will be censored.

  • Comment number 32.

    Message 29

    "How long does 'further consideration' of my view take? (No13) I have been waiting over seven hours".

    Well in my own case 15 months and still counting ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/09/twitter_fever_fails_to_grip_hu.html - see posting 3 ) Needless to say, I hadn’t broke any house rules either and possess an excellent posting record on the R4 messageboards ( approx 9000 postings over 10 years with just 5 postings removed – and no house rule broken in any of those cases). I do, however, monitor the R4 abuses of both messageboards and blogs and have reported these to Feedback, Culture, Shadow Culture secretaries – and also the BBC Trust (complete waste of time).

    Feedback ignores R4 listeners’ complaints relating to blogs or messageboards, but the programme has a new producer, Ms. Karen Pirie. Ms. Pirie posts on the R4 blog, so given that you’re clearly not guilty of any serious infringement of the house rules, then I suggest you bring this issue to Ms. Pirie’s attention.

    P.S. I am a Catholic, but shall not be listening

  • Comment number 33.

    RobFenlon, perhaps you live such a cloistered life you've never heard of a rock combo called the Sex Pistols and the lyric
    I am an anti-Christ
    I am an anarchist

    As to how puerile my contribution was, I guess you will never know as it has been censored (I was trying to make a point by being humorous while sticking to facts). And in any case, if being puerile was adequate reason for censorship then I'm afraid half the content of BBC programming would disappear. I think other forces are at work.

    You are very pedantic in your criticism of my chosen username yet let go, as indeed I have, other contributors such as the Catholic who cannot even spell Catholic. I would never criticise a person for poor education or intelligence, we all have a right to voice our opinions. If a person wants to believe in fairies I defend their right to do so but reserve the right to criticise their belief. 'Blasphemy is a victimless crime.'

    PS I hope you do not make a habit of criticising things you haven't read.

  • Comment number 34.

    Lawrence_Jones I took a look at the comment you reference and it had been parked 'for further consideration' by mistake so I've now published it. My apologies. Better late than never?

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 35.

    I am very pleased that the BBC has chosen to mark such an important day in the church's year by extending this invitation to the man who represents the majority of the world's Christians. We are reaching the end of a year in which not only Catholics, but all Christians and indeed our brothers and sisters from other faiths have come under increasing attack, in the case of Christians ranging from the sneers and insults in this country at the time of the Pope's visit, to the ongoing mortal violence used against Christians in Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan. I look forward to hearing more from all leaders of faiths, particularly around the time of their great festivals, and on this particular occasion, it is appropriate that we should hear the words of the Pope, just as we have heard in the past from archbishops and other leaders of major churches. If you do not like it, please just switch off for 3 minutes - I adopt this tactuc quite happily when politicians start speaking!

    On a similar vein, thanks to everyone in the BBC involved with today's Chris Evans show from the Archbishop of York's palace - the genuine Christmas joy radiating from this program was most memorable.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm amazed there are so many comments already and you haven't even heard what the Pope has to say yet! I am a Roman Catholic and proud to belong to the one Church of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict is a gentle intellectual who teaches sound Christian doctrine. Listen to him!
    I look forward to tomorrow morning.

  • Comment number 37.

    I am shocked that the BBC and radio four would have the pope on thought for the day after all the controversy surrounding him and his views on his priests raping and abusing children. The fact that this man and others under him hide these priests and others like him is all too shocking. One of his own Bishops (Spain I believe) said that kids asked to be abused??? seduce the priests.
    Catholics everywhere should hang their heads in shame! They helped cover this abuse up, they side with the church over the children. They have the power to force their church to change, The pope nor the catholic church will ever change while we let it stay stuck in the past. I used to be a catholic until I become one of those abused children, did anyone believe me or the other kids the priest raped every Sunday NO, it was hidden like all the rest.

    How can any one receive faith, love and support from a man who stands for this and let it happen.

  • Comment number 38.

    Catholics, don't worry !

    Many of the people who criticise, and rightly criticise, the Church over the sex abuse scandal, support the child abuse of abortion, so these people don't have a favourable view towards children's welfare anyway.

  • Comment number 39.

    It is funny that Christians have a pope. We get rid off the Caliphate in 1924 for secular Turkey. But modern Western world is eager to listen an ordinary man who represents the power of human made book.

  • Comment number 40.

    There is no God, only gods.

  • Comment number 41.

    Robert Pigott suggests that the Pope has relaxed some of the Church's teachings . Can he name one ? When was the last time that Archbishop Rowan got such a puff piece on the Radio ?

  • Comment number 42.

    Nice to see that Britain, the land of Freedom of Speech and Democracy still cries 'Foul!' when a Roman Catholic wants to express the Roman Catholic opinon. It's nothing new, of course, Catholics in Britain have been treated with suspicion (if not hatred) for almost 500 years. Yet these 'free-speakers' and 'free-thinkers' celebrate that they are enjoying their freedom of speech. Freedom of speech extends to all, whether or not they agree with you. It's British proponents only extend this privilege to those who are not of the Catholic Church: witness the furore a few years ago when the Prime Minister announced that he was considerin converting to Catholicism..."A Papist PM! Good Lord, not here!". I find it ironic that people (many of whom have commented above), complain that the Catholic Church is outdated while treating it with a scorn that was proved to be unjustifiable 500 years ago, when it began. The Roman Catholic Church is not outdated,it just adheres to the Faith that began a little over 2000 years ago. Truth is Truth, and I try not to proud by the fact that Mother Church has stayed with this opinion through centuries of scorn, hatred, and downright persecution in Britain.

    5 minutes and counting. Bring on Christ's Vicar on Earth.

    Love and Peace to all. x

  • Comment number 43.

    Amen! Well done to His Holiness. x

  • Comment number 44.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/profile.shtml?userid=14731401">Christopher Halliday, Archbishop Rowan Williams has appeared on Thought for the Day eight times. Listen here.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 45.

    Having listened to Poly and her views with John H I can now see why I was moved to complain about her when she worked for the BBC. As a Catholic Christian I feel that I have been marginalised by stealth; the vast majority of us plebs did not understand the meaning of the word secular, is it a description for the people on the fringes with loud mouths who do not really understand what Faith, Spirituality and Religion really means to us Plebs who actually have Faith, Spirituality and that demonised (in the secular world) thing called religion. There are many silent voices out there who are people of Faith even if their bums are not on pews. And let us not forget that the sins committed by members of the Church are merely human members of the church who are not immune from the frailties of human nature; they will be judged, it was not the Church ( and in this context we speak of the Catholic family)it was individuals within the family. They will be judged by the far greater Deity; greater than any earthly body. Thank you BBC for having the courage to represent the silent voices of society. Happy and Joyful Christmas to one and all and to those who are not of the Christian faith or those who have not Faith I say enjoy our celebration and our prayers are for you too.

  • Comment number 46.

    RobFenlon writes: "At least Mother Church has remained constant throughout nearly 2000 years."

    True. Constantly evil.

  • Comment number 47.

    I dealt with this broadcast in just the same way as I did when we had to suffer the visit of Vincent Nichols to King's College London where I work - ignore his drivel. I have no interest in the ramblings of a homophobic ex-Nazi who is the leader of an international organization whose main agenda is to undermine the rights of women for equality of opportunity, for gays to have equality of anything, for children to have freedom from thought (or even, latterly, freedom from sexual abuse), and whose policies on contraception have contributed both to global overpopulation and countless extra deaths from AIDS. His organization is actively against most progress in medicine and other branches of science. We can always turn our radios or TVs off - that's what I did. What the UK should be doing is to remove the absurd "recognition" of the Vatican as a "state", so that the way can be paved for Ratzinger to be charged for his alleged part in covering up the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.

  • Comment number 48.

    I am not a Roman Catholic but I am not sure what a lot of the posters on this blog expected the Pope to say, especially in a short pre-recorded segment.

    I do not understand why so many rail against the expression of Christian goodwill at this time of year. I trust each of you will be not want to take the days off work afforded to you by this religious holiday, as you would see this as the ultimate hypocrisy?

    Also MellorSJ "constantly evil"?? Ridiculous comment, totally unworthy of the hour it took you to think of and then type.

  • Comment number 49.

    While we speak, women in Nicaragua are suffering thanks to the Catholic church's policies of not allowing abortion under any circumstances. Women are seeking backstreet abortions and suffering the complications of infection and death. They bring children into the works under awful circumstances and the church cares not a jot apart from ensuring their punishment for passion and lust withough any sanction against men. Gynaecologists have difficulty treating women even with ectopic pregnancy, which is life threatening if not treated, as they risk prosecution if they do so.
    This is conventiently ignored when the pope visited the UK and no reference is made to it, of course, during the broadcast.
    The catholic church is causing suffering and death due to its policies NOW and to have the pope on air to so many unwilling listeners with no one holding him to account makes me wonder about the impartiality of the BBC, which treasured though it is during this ago of low quality media, should be more savvy than this.
    At least include atheists and secularists on the slot to address current issues of abuse of women, which are swept under the carpet in the way those of child abuse were in the past.

  • Comment number 50.

    Oh dear, what a shame that pretty much all these comments are negative, largely misinformed and ignorant.
    I expect all the contributors are celebrating Christmas this year. What are you celebrating? Presumably the very thing that the Pope has been talking about, namely Christ being born in order to suffer and die for us and our sins. The Pope's message, like Christ's is supremely positive: "Give thanks to God for his goodness...He offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down; He gives us hope, He brings us life" and yet all this ranting is focused on Pope Benedict who is a man, just as susceptible to the same failings as the rest of us. Catholics, including priests, bishops and the Pope, are very aware of their own sinful nature and are utterly ashamed of what has been perpetrated by a few priests and believe me, we confess and do penance for our sins. In the history of time only Jesus and his mother, Mary have been sinless, the rest of us have to face up to our failings.
    Can I suggest that before you go pointing fingers you do some research of your own rather than taking your opinions from a necessarily inflammatory media. The actual numbers of Catholic priests involved in these horrific and criminal activities are tiny in comparison with the immense good that the church has done, through its self-sacrificing priests, throughout the world over hundreds of years. The figures are also low when compared with others who also hold a position of trust when caring for children including teachers, care workers and leaders of other religions, nobody mentions this because Catholics are about the only minority group it is OK to denigrate.

    I would like to congratulate Gwyneth Williams and the BBC on allowing Catholics also to have a platform and for understanding the meaning of Christmas.

    P.S. By the way, one contributor to this blog thought that Pope Benedict was a Nazi just because he was a member of the Hitler Youth - this was compulsory for all 14 year old boys. His family were against the regime because they felt it contradicted their faith. He was horrified by what he has since described as living in hell (to paraphrase).

  • Comment number 51.

    Lest people forget.. Christmas is actually a Christian celebration. Looking forward to the coverage.


  • Comment number 52.

    It's a few minutes of radio time. Given the recent failings of the Catholic Church to deal properly with the issues of child abuse and the use of condoms to stop the spread of HIV in the developing world, he's hardly likely to prompt a revival is he?

    If people have a problem with the Pope then hopefully they didn't bother to listen (like me).

  • Comment number 53.

    The mid winter celebrations that most people practice (decorating their homes, gifting and feasting, etc) pre-date Christianity. The church hi-jacked these in the fourth century and re-positioned the birth of Christ to fit as far as I'm aware.

    We live in a largely secular society and are all the more civil for it. Religion by it's very nature demands blind-faith, and does not truly believe in democratic society that questions it's rules and holds leaders accountable.

    In the West we despair at the theocracies practiced in many Muslim countries where personal freedoms and rights of expression are suppressed by the ruling forces. Remember - it's only a few hundred years ago since the Roman Catholic Church exercised power and control with the same ruthlessness. Given half a chance, I have no doubt they would do the same again.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    BBC gives prime-time platform in a NEWS programme to man who masterminded the cover up of tens of thousands of instances of child sex abuse...and doesn't even ask him to explain himself. I'm disgusted. Whatever happened to the BBC's journalistic integrity?

    And does anyone happen to know the age of consent in the Vatican? It's 12.

  • Comment number 57.

    I had hoped that the Pope's "Thought" might bring some comfort to the great many victims of paedophile priests, but I didn't hear any mention of the harm done to children by criminal priests. He did mention "(t)he child that was born in Bethlehem"; but that was all.

    The Pope specifically referred to his "Friends" in England, Scotland and Wales; but not those in N Ireland, where the Executive has recently agreed to hold an inquiry into historical institutional abuse.

  • Comment number 58.

    I have had a similar post moderated.

    I complained that Thought for Today and the BBC coverage of the Papal visit did not say that for most Protestants the undue attention given to the Pope is offensive. Much of Roman Catolic docterine is not Biblical and it is guilty of many autrocities.

    Cardinal Newman had been given merit by the Roman Church for changing religion in a society where toleration was won by protestant martyrs. Yet martyrs such as Archbishop Crsnmer, who was burned to death for writing the service in English have not even recived an apology.

    Every Christian who has been on Thought for the Day, is a saint, is the head of the Church and is the most important Christian to Christ. I'm not a Christian, but feel the Pope should attract less fawning to and the BBC rememember we live in a Protestant democracy and under a constitutional monarchy.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Head of weird cult (that believes, with zero supporting factual evidence, that a supernatural being that made our planet and has control over all we do ..err except their priests with little children it seems) gets prime slot on 'thought for the day'. Oh well done BBC! Rename it 'Loony slot' and get out of the dark ages.

  • Comment number 61.

    The nutty religious lot moan 'but this is Christmas, a religious time'. Actually if this Jesus character was born (and from sperm meeting egg, not a supernatural event) then the scientific evidence (of comet etc) suggests 25th of Dec isn't anywhere near the right date - a date made up at the say of a Roman emperor. This time of year has always had celebrations long before Christmas was invented; it is just yet another example of the Christian church muscling in on past pagan and other celebration to help enforce their church over others in order to eradicate them.

  • Comment number 62.

    Well, now you've heard it - or had a chance to. I wonder how many of the people who posted above before the event actually listened.
    No pope has ever broadcast like this before. Pope Benedict is a brave man as well as being our gentle, loving shepherd. He came on our radio to thank us for the welcome we gave him in September. And we still get all this drivel written by clever clogs who think they know more than God. If people don't want to celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity they don't have to. The shops would be much quieter in the winter then.

    We don't know the exact date of Christ's birth and I'm sure Pope Benedict would be the first to agree with that, but we need a date to celebrate it, so why not this date?

    And as for child abuse - hasn't that been overdone by now? Just count the number of lay people, men and women, who have been convicted for child sex abuse. It comes to a lot more than all the Catholic priests. But anything Catholic - or Christian - is an easy target.

    By the way, Queen Elizabeth was very welcoming to the Pope in Scotland and I thank her for that. I accept her as the queen of my country, but she isn't the head of any church - sorry. Read your history and you'll find out that the Church of England was founded on the need for a divorce, despite the fact that a lot of theology has developed around it in the intervening five hundred years. To read history, as Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, is to cease to be protestant.

    Catholic and proud of it!
    Happy Solemnity of the Nativity to you all!

  • Comment number 63.

    I’m sure that The Pope would like to thank Mr Thompson and Gwyneth Williams for providing him with an unchallenged platform to depict himself as “the source of all good” and also with another opportunity to whitewash his involvement in the ongoing cover up of the rape of young children by his employees. Not since the BBC gave him entirely disproportionate coverage during his recent visit to what one of his Cardinals called the UK “a third world country” could he have felt so lucky.

    As a head of state the chance to project himself in this way on the BBC to the British people when instead he should be answering on the program for his attacks on women's reproductive rights; enabling the HIV epidemic in Africa by opposing the use of condoms; and his continued persecution of Gay and Lesbian people and his denial of their human rights, (to name but a few of his more popular views) has been a great propaganda victory for him. As such I’m sure he is very grateful to you all in being given the opportunity to provide such a distraction from the reality of what he really represents; especially at this time of year when the magic act is in full swing.

    P.S. That "thought for the day slot" I suspect even the Pope wonders how the BBC keep getting away with privileging religion in such a blatant and shameless way with no apology to the millions of secular people it alienates and excludes; the same secularists the Pope liked to Nazis during his recent visit

    Shame on you BBC.

  • Comment number 64.

    62. At 2:37pm on 24 Dec 2010, Mary Hutchings wrote:

    And as for child abuse - hasn't that been overdone by now? Just count the number of lay people, men and women, who have been convicted for child sex abuse. It comes to a lot more than all the Catholic priests. But anything Catholic - or Christian - is an easy target.


    You miss the point Madam. True, child abuse is not peculiar to the Catholic Church. What is peculiar and repugnant is the cover up that the Pope was and continues to be involved in. Evidence being: the refusal to hand over files on Paedophile priests held in the Vatican to Law enforcement officers and the harbouring of child abuses in the Vatican. There’s plenty more should you be Christian enough to engage in what you don’t like to see or hear. I rather suspect that Jesus would have put the needs of the victims before the protection of the Church.

  • Comment number 65.

    The term 'God' is referenced 31 times in Genesis chapter 1. However there is no attempt to describe what God is in Genesis's 50 chapters. But if for any reason your approaching 50 and decide to read all 50 chapters, even if you’re like me an Atheist / Secular Christian ? ( omitting the paint drying bits about genealogy ). You may like me conclude these 31 references to God may well be conveniently implied as a super being and or creator. But by the time I read all 50 chapters, my overwhelming impression of what the term God refers to, is ourselves.

    Prompts the quote ‘I am that I am’. God says to Moses my name is I AM (Exodus 3 14). Whether you want to use the term God to represent the best of ourselves, or when we do something superhuman, exceptional, for mankind.

    So has the Pope read the Genesis cover to cover, who knows. People that study the bible I've noticed take a bit here and a bit there. However what God is from by the Pope’s recent statement: 'God often surprises us', to me implies God is some super being. But just from reading the start of the Bible, I conclude there are currently over 6 billion Gods on earth. So what is the Pope talking about And not just the Pope, how many other religious imply God is a super being, and not as the bible again and again describes God as being ‘someone's God’ ( the God of Jacob Israel, for example ). The God of Michael Barnett. The 6 billion Gods currently on earth, doing their best to get on with each other despite the yoke of tribalism that appears to control us.

  • Comment number 66.

    Thank you, BBC, for allowing the Pope to speak to us on Christmas Eve. Public Service Broadcasting at its finest. Peace and love to all those who feel angry, and a very Happy Christmas!

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm closing comments on the Radio 4 blog for the next few days while there's only a skeleton moderation team on duty. Thanks for all your comments in the meantime and seasonal best wishes to all!

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog


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