IT is highly ironic that the Government should be forced to say sorry to the Vatican for mocking the forthcoming Papal visit when Pope Benedict XVI is under so much pressure to issue a more fulsome apology over paedophile priests, a scandal that continues to envelop the Roman Catholic Church.
Yet what does it say about the ineffective running of this country when the Foreign Office has to set up a special unit to prepare for the Pope's pilgrimage to the UK – and then its officials have nothing better to do than suggest, among other ideas, that he opens an abortion clinic, blesses a gay marriage and launches a condom range in between meeting celebrities like TV talent show winner Susan Boyle.
There was a time, not so very long ago, when the Foreign Office was home to Britain's intellectual elite. This is clearly no longer the case, judging by the offensive nature of this so-called strategy document that was, apparently, the handiwork of a recent recruit who graduated from Oxford University with a first class degree.
How can this country expect to be treated with respect, and demand respect from others, when once august institutions employ such infantile individuals, and at the taxpayers' expense?