Pope is ‘progeny of hell’ - Paisley
A sectarian outburst by former DUP leader Ian Paisley just days after an to mark his contribution to the peace process has embarrassed the political establishment in the North.
Paisley, in an extended interview with the BBC broadcast at the weekend, repeared claims that the pope is the anti-Christ, and that Catholics are encouraged by their church to breed like rabbits.
He told the World Service he believed Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness would never be First Minister at Stormont, and that there should be closure on controversies from the conflict.
“We can’t live with these things before us,” he said.
Paisley, who was named ‘Lord Bannside’ at the ‘House of Lords’ in the London parliament on Monday, also denied he had changed his opinions since deciding to enter government with Sinn Féin at Stormont.
Regarding the pope’s visit to Britain, the first by a pope since 1982, Paisley said it was a “mistake”.
“I think he should not be invited to the country,” he said.
“But I don’t know how it has been done because they have had it all secret. Nobody knows who made the thing. You go and ask a question of any Minister and he says he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.”
He criticised the Irish Catholic Church for its stand on sex abuse of children, claiming the bishops had been “very weak”.
He denied his decision to share power with Sinn Féin in a Six-County administration marked a personal transformation.
“I don’t think it is,” he said. “I think it is a misunderstanding that if you are going to have an agreement that we have had in Northern Ireland, there are some basic things which must be fulfilled. And of course I took a stand on those basic things, and I haven’t compromised.”
He also stood by his long-held beliefs regarding Catholics. Reminded of his claims that Catholics were vermin who bred like rabbits, he said: “I don’t think that it’s wrong to say that the Roman Catholic Church did believe that they [adherents] should have very large families. And large Roman Catholic families were brought into existence simply because of that.”
Asked whether he regretted such comments, he said simply: “I haven’t said anything that is contrary to what I believe to be truth. And for me to say that I am going to turn my back on all I’ve said would be nonsense. I believed it and I said it, and it stands the test.”
Paisley was asked whether he stood by comments that the papacy is “the seed of the serpent, the progeny of hell”. He answered: “Yes, yes, and so it is.”
On the question of the pope being branded as the anti-Christ by Dr Paisley in the European Parliament in 1988, he said: “Well it’s quite true. [The pope] does seek by his claims to replace Christ. And he puts himself in the place of Christ.
“Take the list of names that he calls himself. The Roman Catholic Church turns to us and says you shouldn’t call him the anti-Christ. Well, if a man comes to me and says he can forgive sins, then he is taking the place of Christ – no one can forgive sins except God.
Asked whether he could live with Martin McGuinness as First Minister if Sinn Féin emerged from next year’s Assembly election as the largest party, Paisley said he did not think Mr McGuinness is “going to be leader”.
He said he accepted that those shot dead on Bloody Sunday were indeed “shot wrongfully”, and “were innocent people”.
“We must come to the place where Protestants and Roman Catholics have got to live together, practise whatever religion they want provided it’s within the law, and in their own churches. And get away from the old days when you wanted to wipe out your neighbour because he had different politics and different religions.”
Last week, Paisley again ignored pressure to apologise for falsely linking innocent loyaliist murder victims to the Provisional IRA.
A debate on the subject of his smears of the Reavey family in 1976 came as a portrait of him was hung in Stormont to congratulations from nationalists and unionists.
“If you had told a person 20 years ago that my portrait would hang in Stormont and everybody from all the parties would be there, unarmed and in peace, you wouldn’t believed it,” he said on Tuesday.
“But it has happened and it needs to happen more and more. Because we all have to live together.”