Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Former Head of the Papal Visit Team

Anjoum Noorani, 31, was the leader of the Papal Visit Team which drew up a document suggesting the Pope should launch his own range of “Benedict” condoms, open an abortion clinic and stay in a council flat in Bradford.

Mr Noorani, whose identity has until now remained secret, was moved to “other duties” after he gave authorisation for the memo to be sent to Downing Street and three Whitehall departments.
But Ma Pepinster who extolls her connections here claims there are "around six middle ranking officials were involved".
Until his reassignment  he was 'Head of Papal Visit Team' but apparently none of the other members of the team were Catholic. According to the Daily Mail Mr Noorani is "understood to be British Pakistani - but colleagues say he is not a Muslim".


Anonymous said...

"not a Muslim" - but is he gay?
That would be nu-Labour's style.


Dominic Mary said...

Remember : Her Majesty's present Ambassador to the Holy See is the first Catholic ever appointed to the position - because they still haven't really got their heads round the idea that you can be a loyal Briton and a good Catholic - so don't necessarily expect the FCO to think there's merit in appointing a Catholic as a member of, still less to head, the team for the Holy Cather's visit.

Personally, I think there is much to be said for remembering Bernard's comment about the FCO in 'Yes, Prime Minister', when Hacker suggests that 'the enemy' are the Russians.

Bernard points out that we're related to the Russians; the enemy is the French, and has been for hundreds of years !

Unknown said...

It is beginning to look as if this Memo was no joke as James Macintyre in The New Statesman first pointed out on 25th April 2010:


He wrote:
“In fact, I am reliably told by a senior Whitehall source: "This was not written as a joke. It was meant to be a serious brainstorming by various people designed for a meeting. I know it is hard to believe but it is serious." In which case, the memo says more about the mind-set of what one official calls an "aggressive secular fundamentalism" that is entrenched in the Foreign Office, than it does about the Papal visit which, for all the Vatican's faults, remains a good thing.”!

Crux Fidelis said...

I remember Dr David Owen when he was leader of the SDP being interviewed on TV about the Michael Bettany spy case in 1983. He suggested that MI5 should have been alerted to his potential treachery when he converted to Catholicism!

F.O. said...

If the visiting head of state were from an arab or muslim country do you think there would be no arab or muslim people on the preparatory committee? Somehow, I think not.

Ernie Skillen said...

There's an email dress for FCO Ministers, if any of your readers wish to send their views:

Unknown said...

Gay, and proud of it!
Muslim but not practising.

That's more Nu-Labour's style, me thinks.

ps Sorry for being uncharitable but you can forgive me for being a tad upset!

Ernie Skillen said...

Is it a good idea for the Pope to come to the UK, given the hostility already evident and which is likely to be whipped up further? There's very little build-up to the visit in parishes. Unfortunatly most of our parishoners are elderly, many are probably not too keen on the Holy Father so may not have intended to go to events and fear of protestors may keep most Catholics away from the events. In whose interest is this visit?

me said...

Ernie said

"In whose interest is this visit?"

The Holy Spirit's?

James said...

Joe Murphy of The London Evening Standard reported on 19.02.2009:

"Gordon Brown has invited the Pope to visit Britain. Mr Brown said he had suggested the Pope might visit either later this year or next year.

A papal visit, perhaps taking place shortly before the next general election, would delight the 4.2 million Catholics in England and Wales."

Now how could Mr Brown have forgotten to mention this last Thursday evening when asked about the Papal visit?

And why was Mr Brown so keen to invite the Pope to visit Britain before the election?

Patrick Sheridan said...

If the King of Saudi Arabia decided to visit this country and someone suggested that we present him with a ham there'd be outrage...

Lupi sunt et lupi esse videntur.

Crux Fidelis said...

James asked: And why was Mr Brown so keen to invite the Pope to visit Britain before the election?

Brown said nothing about the visit taking place before the election. That was speculation by the Evening Standard.

gemoftheocean said...

Sure he's not a Muslim....and the pope's not really Catholic, and bears don't really ... oh, never mind, right.

seriously...It NEVER CEASES to AMAZE me how dumb bunnies in foreign offices and certain state departments are so brain dead it never occurs to them that "gee, it might be nice if there is SOMEONE of thousands we employ to maybe have a little intelligence about the belief/customs/xyz of our guest to be.

I mean, goodness knows, I don't think much of Arab culture or the Muslim faith, but I think I'd be smart enough if I were the head of a team to get someone on board who DID know that culture intimately so no gaffes are pulled. I'd at least know enough not to serve them pork for dinner or comment on their multiple wives, if they've got them saying things like "which one do you like best."

Honestly. GOOBERS *everywhere* when there's no excuse for it.

Discreet Observer said...

It would be interesting to find out the composition and size of Foreign Office teams that were put in place to prepare for other state visits. Is it possible to find out the numbers and seniority of such teams for (say) the previous 4 state visits?
Although the government has come out with a mealy-mouthed half-apology no one seems to have mentioned the embarrassment this has probably caused the REAL head of state in this country - the Queen.
Knowing her regard for duty and impeccable diplomacy she must be appalled that delinquent, ignorant schoolboys have besmirched the planning of such an important occasion with their smutty comedy club proposals. What would have been the reaction in our Foreign Office and our newspapers if the Vatican had some something similar in preparatiion for a state visit by the Queen to see the Pope? Answers on a postcard, please, to David Miliband.

nickbris said...

Some of the commentators on The Independent blog need investigating,no doubt the authorities are on to them.

Care in the community has certainly put some dodgy individuals on the street.We must pray that they they are taking their medication.

Physiocrat said...

I sure he will do a fine job in DEFRA come the next foot-and-mouth epidemic, or he could go to the Department for Transhport - there is still that replacement for the Inter-City 125 train to specify. The Department's previous attempt by his colleagues of towering intellect worked out at £4 million a vehicle (that's as much as a whole train normally)

P Standforth said...

Let's remember that every tribulation throws up an opportunity. Father Ray, I think it is usual in public bodies that when an employee has made such an epic mistake in behaviour they are required to undergo re-training. An inappropriate use of language that could be construed as racist for example would have the offender off on a 'diversity' course before you could say 'bless my soul'. I'm sure then that the Foreign Office would be very open just now if you were to volunteer to run a series of 'Diversity' courses for diplomats to coach them in the background and practice of Catholicism. You could include day trips to monastic communities, and include the real story of what the Church teaches, and why. Given that the going rate for these sorts of courses is north of £300 per head per day, it would also mean you get a new floor at St.MM a lot sooner! And yes, I'm serious!

GOR said...

Actually Dominic Mary, it was Sir Humphrey - not Bernard - who explained to the Minister that it was the French not the Russians who were the real historical enemy.

Bernard was likely explaining to Hacker how one couldn't cut red tape with a sledgehammer or that there was no Ablative in Greek!

But your point is well taken...

Peter said...

May I offer a hypothesis?
The FCO staff normally would plan for a foreign visitor to see suitable venues and people. So a Japanese leader might visit a car factory (easy) and the Fear East Prisoners of War (challenging) whilst a Polish leader might visit a Polish war cemetery etc..
For the Pope the concerns are domestic: cathedrals (easy), abuse victims (challenging) but neither are really of interest to the FCO (except perhaps a tourist interest in a shrine under the trade promotion heading). The staff knew that they had a silly job to do and made it plain by giving silly suggestions.
I think that this fits the known facts but do not assert that it is correct.
The FCO staff I have met, in Lourdes for example, would never wish to insult the Pope.
But I do like P Standforth’s suggestion.

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