I found this article in the Guardian.co.uk of April 25, 2010.
"The Foreign Office has apologised over a jokey internal memo written by junior staff suggesting the pope should open an abortion clinic during his visit and start a child abuse line. Photograph: Giuseppe Giglia/EPA
An internal Foreign Office memo about September's papal visit to Britain, born of a Friday afternoon brainstorming session involving a group of junior civil servants, resulted yesterday in the demotion of a young official and a formal government apology to the Vatican.
The memorandum, apparently written by staff planning events for the four-day visit by Pope Benedict XVI, suggested he might like to start a helpline for abused children, sack "dodgy" bishops, open an abortion ward, launch his own brand of condoms, preside at a civil partnership, perform forward rolls with children, apologise for the Spanish armada and sing a song with the Queen.
But Jim Murphy, the cabinet minister overseeing the visit and a practising Catholic, failed to see the funny side of it, describing the memo as "absolutely despicable. It's vile, it's insulting, it's an embarrassment".
The ideas were circulated across Whitehall, including to Downing Street, weeks ago with a covering note suggesting it should not be shown externally and adding, unnecessarily perhaps, that its ideas were far-fetched.
The memo was leaked, though, and details of it were printed in the Sunday Telegraph. David Miliband, the foreign secretary, was said to be appalled and a formal expression of regret was offered to the Vatican by the British ambassador, Francis Campbell.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said: "This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect UK government or Foreign Office policy or views. Many of the ideas … are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful. The text was not cleared, or shown to ministers or senior officials before circulation. As soon as senior officials became aware of the document it was withdrawn from circulation."
Foreign Office sources said that the memo's author was a university graduate in his mid- to late twenties. "He is completely contrite. I don't think the intention was to amuse. It was supposed to be blue sky stuff, thinking out of the box. He had absolutely no intention to offend," an official said. "They were genuinely trying to think the unthinkable so that they could identify everything that was thinkable."
Senior officials became aware of what has become known in King Charles Street as Popegate more than a week ago, and the aspiring diplomat was carpeted. "As soon as adults found out about it, he was moved sideways and down," the official said.
The document was written on a Friday in early March, some weeks before the latest waves of child abuse accusations engulfed the Catholic church, and which have indeed resulted in the departure of several bishops, including two in Ireland and Belgium this weekend. Among its other suggestions were that the now-Catholic Tony Blair and the singer Susan Boyle might be suitable candidates to be introduced to the pope, while the atheist Richard Dawkins and Wayne Rooney – who married in a Catholic ceremony – might be less suitable. In an odd twist, Scottish Catholic bishops said last night they indeed hoped Boyle would sing for the pope at a mass in Glasgow.
The ludicrous nature of some of the memo's suggestions did not prevent some within the Catholic church demanding apologies for a disrespectful slur rather more urgently than senior Vatican officials have offered apologies over children abused in church care.
In Italy, La Stampa reported the story under the headline "Too much humour, we're British". It described the proposals as "intentionally absurd" but said the memo "certainly hasn't helped improve the anti-papal feeling that certain sectors are trying to feed in Great Britain ahead of the pope's visit".
The response was more intemperate on the web. One Catholic commentator denounced "strident, snide, cheap and ignorant prejudice [which has] flourished under this government." It was left to Jack Valero, spokesman for the organisation Catholic Voices, to add a note of moderation: "I think it is a joke that has gone wrong … [Catholics] will think about it today and then forget about it. In the Catholic church we are used to forgiveness. It's part of our culture."
The part that made me laugh the most was the suggestion that the pope introduce his own brand of condoms. The idea of increasing the use of condoms worldwide is championed by some highly respected groups, notably the United Nations Public Fund, which says that the world's ongoing population growth would have tremendous impact on global warming and that the best solution to this problems would be distribution of free condoms. Some environmentalist groups have shown their support for this plan and have made it part of their celebration of Earth Day, just a few days ago. I can't imagine what rationale they could have for using the Pope's own brand of condoms.