Northern Ireland

Rev Ian Paisley leads protest delegation against visit

The founder of the Free Presbyterian Church, the Reverend Ian Paisley, now Lord Bannside, has led a protest against the Pope's visit to the UK.

Around 60 members of the church travelled to Edinburgh to highlight "concerns" with the Catholic church.

They unfurled a banner outside John Knox House in the city.

The Free Presbyterian Church has also published a booklet spelling out its opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's four-day state visit to the UK.

'Great trouble'

Dr Paisley said there were "some matters of great trouble in the Roman Catholic church".

"I have had deputations from Roman Catholics who wrote to me worrying about what happened to their children and why there's not a definite stand taken by the Pope on this particular issue.

"I mean, that is something that concerns everyone in society.

Image caption Members of the Free Presbyterian church outside John Knox House in Edinburgh

"We must make our statement on that and I think this is the time to do it, when the Pope is present," he said.

Dr Paisley was asked by reporters to respond to comments by a senior papal adviser who said arriving at Heathrow airport was like landing in a "Third World" country.

Cardinal Walter Kasper made the comments to German magazine, Focus.

He has since pulled out of the Pope's visit.

The Vatican said the cardinal had not intended "any kind of slight" and had pulled out because of illness.


Dr Paisley said his comments showed there was "confusion" in the Vatican.

"This particular cardinal who spoke, he was very, very ignorant in his attitude to this nation.

"I've been around most of the world and I've seen the places where Rome dominates and you could hardly say they were first class.

"If countries are poor, we have to make them better.

"The issue is not to pass critical comments on the country, it is to deal with moral and spiritual matters and that is what I am interested in," he said.

Dr Paisley was also asked by journalists if he would try and meet the Pope.

"I don't want to get near him. I was near the last Pope."