Paisley to protest against Pope

Aging unionist firebrand Ian Paisley is to lead a 60-strong delegation to Scotland to protest over Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain.

Paisley, now ‘Lord Bannside’, claimed it was his responsibility to lead the demonstration in Edinburgh where the Pope is due to receive a state welcome on Thursday morning.

In 1988, Ian Paisley was ejected from the European Parliament after he denounced the then-Pope, John Paul II, as the “anti-Christ”.

The former First Minister said the first state visit by a Pope to Britain was not dealt with in a “democratic way”, as it was not announced nor debated at Westminster.

“If you can’t put your views inside the Parliament then you have no other option but to go outside it”.

“We’re shut up in the place where we should be allowed to speak and I don’t like that the government is doing things behind the back of the people”.

At the weekend, the Reverend Ron Johnson challenged other Protestant church leaders to join their protest.

“We’re simply re-stating the creeds of the historical Protestant churches”, the current Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church said.

“Really every Protestant church in Northern Ireland ought to be supporting our stand. Sadly I know all ministers will not - but they’re going against their ordination vows.”

The Free Presbyterian Church strongly objects to plans to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th century convert to Roman Catholicism, in an open-air Mass in Birmingham on Sunday.

Pope Benedict’s state visit comes 28 years after the six-day pastoral trip by Pope John Paul II to England, Scotland and Wales in 1982.

His visit will include trips by “Popemobile” - in Edinburgh, London and Birmingham - which are expected to attract thousands of onlookers.

Paisley said members of his group were not planning to confront the Pope this week.

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