On Sunday 14 February three hundred people marched on the Italian embassy in London to protest against Pope Benedict XVI’s proposed September visit to the UK, a visit which will be costing the British taxpayer an estimated £20 million.
“No Vatican — London for a Secular Europe”, was organised in solidarity with Facciamo Breccia, a coalition of Italian secularist organisations who, on the anniversary of the creation of the Vatican on 11th February 1929, mobilise thousands of Italians onto the streets of Rome to protest against the Vatican’s influence in Italian politics.
“The secular movement in Italy is marginalised by almost all political parties,” explained Marco Tranchino, who coordinated the London solidarity demo.
The Vatican itself was founded by the fascist dictator Mussolini in 1929, and has since then lived up to its fascist credentials. On the panel outside the embassy, LGBT human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell — who recently stood down as Green parliamentary candidate for Oxford East due to injuries suffered from excessive and repetitive police-beatings — expressed his revulsion at Benedict’s 2009 reinstatement of holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson. Tatchell stated, ‘There is no excuse for giving religious leaders the honour of a state visit to this country.’
Tranchino stressed that the Pope’s visit to Britain comes in the light of an escalation of homophobic attacks worldwide, especially in Italy.
When questioned about the direction of the campaign, Tranchino was eager to mobilise the faithful, but dismissive of partisan ideological concerns.
The Vatican represents religious bigotry on a global scale and is a remnant of the ravages of fascism upon Europe. It represents everything that socialists, feminists and LGBTQ activists have fought against for the past century. Socialists should condemn the Vatican and support battles against the Pope’s visit and for a secular, equal society. We also need socialist critiques of homophobia, sexism and religious bigotry.