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UK sorry for pope-brand condom proposal memo

By the CNN Wire Staff
The Vatican is steadfastly opposed to use of condoms, gay marriage.
The Vatican is steadfastly opposed to use of condoms, gay marriage.
  • Pope Benedict XVI set to visit Britain later this year
  • Memo said he could launch Benedict-brand condoms, bless a gay marriage on trip
  • UK: Many of the ideas in the document "clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful"

(CNN) -- The British government has apologized to Pope Benedict XVI for a Foreign Office memo suggesting that he could launch Benedict-brand condoms or bless a gay marriage when he visits the United Kingdom later this year.

Many of the ideas in the document are "clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful," the Foreign Office said in a statement Sunday.

The writer of the memo "has been transferred to other duties. He has been told orally and in writing that this was a serious error of judgment," the Foreign Office said.

The Vatican is steadfastly opposed to the use of condoms for any reason and to gay marriage.

The memo also includes suggestions that the pope ordain a female priest or launch an abortion clinic -- both of which are forbidden by Roman Catholic doctrine.

The document was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. The Foreign Office confirmed to CNN that it is genuine.

It contains a number of references to the child abuse scandal sweeping the Catholic Church, such as proposals for the pope to launch a child-abuse hotline and to announce he's "sacking dodgy bishops."

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The Vatican had little reaction.

"The UK government has already clarified the matter and I have nothing to add," spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

But Jack Valero, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, called the memo a "joke that's gone out of control."

"It was somebody trying to be funny in an offensive sort of way," he said, adding it was "not important" and that "Catholics are used to forgiveness."

Benedict is making a four-day state visit to England and Scotland in September.

There was a small protest against the planned visit at Westminster Cathedral in London last month. About 50 demonstrators called for the pope to resign over allegations he "protected" child abusers.

Richard Dawkins, the British scientist and noted atheist, has threatened to try to have the pope arrested when he visits the UK.

Benedict said Sunday he wanted to "thank above all thank and encourage all of those who are dedicated to the prevention" of violence against and exploitation of children.

CNN's Hada Messia and Bharati Naik contributed to this report.