Paisley to protest Pope's UK visit

 

The Rev Ian Paisley is putting himself forward as “a champion” for the victims of child sex abuse by Catholic priests.

The founder of the Free Presbyterian Church is joining a protest in Scotland against this week’s visit to Britain by Pope Benedict, which is to be led by his successor as Moderator, Ron Johnstone.

Dr Paisley, now Lord Bannside, highlighted the Catholic hierarchy’s response to the child sex abuse scandal and put himself forward as “a champion” for those who suffered under priests.

“This man is coming to this country at a time when his own church is very deeply divided and, rightly so, because of the behaviour of many priests within the church and his evident desire not to enter into this matter and deal with it,” Dr Paisley told the BBC.

He said he had been contacted by “many Roman Catholic people” who were troubled “by the actions of Rome” in regard to the abuse of children.

“I think that I have a right, everybody has a right to make their presence felt on this issue,” he said.

The Free Presbyterian protesters, thought to be around 60-strong, are organising a meeting in the building where the church of Scotland was formed and was presided over by John Knox.

“That building will be at our disposal,” Dr Paisley said. “We will unfurl a banner and have a public meeting outside that building.”

He concluded: “What we’re doing, we’re making a legitimate protest about something that is entirely wrong and I am looking at myself as a person who is prepared to champion those who have been very, very badly treated by these priests of Rome.”