Page 1, 12th May 2006

12th May 2006
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Page 1, 12th May 2006 — Pope snubs B-list statesmen
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Pope snubs B-list statesmen

BY FREDDY GRAY

ALONG WITH KISSING a baby, a photo-opportunity with the Pope has long been considered gold dust in political circles. Catholics are a forgiving bunch, and politicians often find their misdemeanours forgotten if they can be snapped smiling alongside the Holy Father. But it seems that Pope Benedict XVI is keen to reduce the long line of statesmen queueing for a papal handshake.

The Vatican has announced that in future only heads of state, government and major international organisations will be granted audiences with the Pope. The move has been taken to cut down on the pontiff's strenuous public commitments.

The Vatican outlined the rules in a letter to all papal nuncios, the Pope's ambas sadors across the world. The letter also stated that leaders wanting an audience with the Pope must give at least one month's notice.

And if there are several heads of state in Rome for a summit, they now must all see the Pope at the same time.

So while Prime Minister Tony Blair can still book himself in to see the Pontiff, Gordon Brown will have to Wait his turn. He must be getting used to it.

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