TWO Protestant organisations are planning demonstrations in Edinburgh for the day of the Popes visit to the Capital.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland has been in talks with the city council and the police about staging a silent witness to coincide with the pontiffs visit next month.

The Independent Orange Institution of Scotland has also approached the authorities about presenting a petition to the Scottish Parliament on the same day.

It is not yet clear whether either of the proposed events will go ahead.

Council chiefs said they were still having talks with organisers and would facilitate peaceful and responsible demonstrations, but stressed no marches were being planned.

Pope Benedict XVI is due to fly into Edinburgh Airport on September 16 at the start of his four-day visit to the UK. He will have a meeting with the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse before being driven along Princes Street.

Ian Wilson, grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, said no decision had yet been made about whether it definitely wanted to stage the silent witness.

He said: “We have been in touch with the authorities because we are responsible about the things we do.

“We have had discussions with the police and the council to say there is a possibility we would like to hold a silent witness during the time of the papal visit to Edinburgh.”

He said any event would be peaceful and respectful towards those who wanted to welcome the Pope.

He said: “I am not an enthusiast for the Pope or the papal visit and I resent the implication that everyone should welcome it, but we do not want anything we do to be disruptive or disrespectful.”

Mr Wilson pointed out the Popes visit was taking place during the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation, which marked Scotlands split with the Roman Catholic Church.

“Some people have said this guy is coming, this is a wonderful opportunity to witness the fact the Reformation freed us from the autocratic and superstitious belief system which the Pope represents and should we not be there to make that point.”

He said the numbers involved in any silent witness would be small and it would likely take place at one end of Princes Street. “It would be a token representation. Theres no suggestion of thousands of Orangemen being bussed through for a great protest.”

The council confirmed the Independent Orange Institution of Scotland, a breakaway group, had also been in touch about handing in a petition to the parliament, just across the road from the palace where the Pope will meet the Queen.

A spokesman said the group had not approached the parliament. A council spokesman said: “There have been two requests to stage events on the day but no marches are planned.

The police and the council will facilitate peaceful and responsible demonstrations and discussions are ongoing.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “We fully respect the right of any group to put forward their point of view in an appropriate manner, but also recognise that the papal visit is supported by the vast majority of Scots, Catholic and non-Catholic, all of whom realise that September 16 will be a very special and day in our nations history.”

Published on the 30th of August 2010
Article taken from the Scotsman

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