A massive wall of protest lashed out against Pope Benedict XVI in London. Tens of thousands of protesters marched and carried signs proclaiming: The Pope Is Mad; Nope to Pope; No Pedophiles; Benedict's Homophobia Costs Lives; Religion Is Stupid; The Vatican Is a Parasite on Italy; No Pedophiles and No Cover-Ups in Britain; as well as many other anti-papal slogans.
At Downing Street, Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, delivered a stinging attack on papal hypocrisy and papal infallibility.
The Pope is on an official state visit to Britain, and the anti-Pope throng strongly protested the use of taxpayers' money to pay for the lavish trappings of this the first state visit to London by any pope.
Many in the protest were critical of Tony Blair as instrumental in what they described as an outrage. Blair is Britain's most prominent Catholic conversion. The Catholic community in London was aware of Blair's forthcoming conversion long before it was made public shortly after he resigned as Prime Minister.
Many of the protesters accused the Pope of homophobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia. The child sexual abuse scandal rocked Britain to the core, and the Pope is generally regarded as the leading conspirator in the cover-up of thousands of pedophile sexual attacks on Catholic children.
For 24 years prior to his election by the Conclave of Cardinals, Benedict XVI was in charge of the pedophile scandal that is finally engulfing the Roman Catholic Church in a flood of public revulsion. Against a looming backdrop of public protest and financial ruin for the foreseeable future, Benedict's papacy is drowning under the weight of his personal role in what many Catholics see as a revolting series of blunders emanating from the global proportions of the child sex abuse scandal.
Under the personal direction of Benedict XVI, the Church has paid out over one billion pounds in settlements to childhood victims of pedophile priests and their families. Lawsuits against the Church name Benedict XVI as a defendant, and the financial drain on the Church promises to continue unabated. Earlier this year, the world's leading Catholic theologian, Hans Kung, published an excoriating letter pointing to Josef Ratzinger's personal role in concealing and covering up the grave child abuse crisis that has stigmatized the Church.
Benedict has caused public outrage in other parts of the world. At Regensburg University, Benedict made Islamophobic remarks that led to a spike in public outrage throughout the Muslim world. Benedict has been critical of Buddhism and Christian fundamentalism as well as other faith traditions.
When he was Prefect to the Congregation on the Doctrine on the Faith, Benedict wrote a letter that many Americans believe caused John Kerry to lose the 2004 presidential election. Benedict's letter to Catholic Bishops condemned Catholic politicians, including John Kerry, who support abortion rights for women. Benedict's letter arrived in America when John Kerry was leading George Bush by double digits in June 2004. Shortly before the letter arrived in the USA, George W. Bush visited the Vatican, where he had an audience with the late John Paul II and met Cardinal Ratzinger who would become Benedict XVI less than one year later. Sidney Blumenthal called Ratzinger's letter attacking Kerry a deciding factor in the presidential election of 2004.
An omnipresent and darkening cloud hovers over the besieged papacy of Benedict XVI, just as it did over the troubling career of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger.