However, there is a possibility that Mulvain’s email was part of an FO ‘brainstorm’. This raises questions about the section of the FO concerned and the hypocrisy often engendered by political correctness. James Macintyre is ‘reliably’ informed by a senior Whitehall figure that:
‘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.’
If Macintyre’s source is accurate then the Foreign Office is an extraordinary organisation. Entrance is highly competitive, especially for recent graduates like Mulvain. So it’s bizarre that such evident stupidity is encouraged. The Catholic Church represents the beliefs of millions, many of whom live here. Institutionalised contempt for faith damages important diplomatic relations. Except, of course, the contempt is not general. The FO would not suggest that the Ayatollah go to Stringfellows anymore than it would fix a surf and turf banquet for Jewish dignitaries. Faith deserves respect and criticism in equal measure. If Macintyre’s source is correct, I hope the Pope cancels his visit. He won’t though: forgiveness is a rather important precept for a Pope.
Standard Catholic Disclaimer: Not for the first time, the Catholic Church has wronged many of its followers and requires urgent reform. Also, the Catholic Church and prevailing British public opinion are out of step on many issues. Neither is cause for compromising diplomatic ties or giving grotesque offence.