London: Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has suspended a diplomat who authorised a memo mocking Pope Benedict XVI after Catholics reacted with fury to its contents.
According to The Telegraph, Anjoum Noorani, 31, has been told to stay at home while the department carries out a misconduct investigation.
When the memo was first leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, the Foreign Office said the civil servant had merely been “moved to other duties”.
But high-ranking Catholics, both here and in the Vatican, expressed dismay that more serious disciplinary action had not been taken, putting the Foreign Office under immense pressure to respond.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a member of staff has been suspended pending a misconduct investigation.”
The offending memo, titled `The Ideal Visit would see…`, was the result of a “brainstorm” session involving Noorani and three junior members of the Papal Visit Team.
It suggested the Pope could launch his own range of condoms during his state visit in September, open an abortion clinic, bless a homosexual marriage and announce the sacking of “dodgy” bishops in the wake of the child abuse scandal within the Catholic church.
Steven Mulvain, a 23-year-old Oxford graduate, with Mr Noorani’s blessing, e-mailed the document to Downing Street and to three Whitehall departments.
Bishops in England and Wales have condemned the memo, with some citing it as evidence of anti-Christian prejudice within the civil service.