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Ian Paisley rapped on Pope remarks

A senior Church of Ireland cleric has criticised former First Minister Ian Paisley for remarks he made about the Pope visiting Britain.

Canon Ian Ellis, who is editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, said that Mr Paisley's attitude was “most disappointing” and that this was “a missed opportunity for a further step towards reconciliation.”

In the BBC interview, former DUP leader Mr Paisley described the invitation to Pope Benedict to visit Britain as a “mistake” and referred also to the clerical child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

Mr Ellis said that the remarks came “as a sorry reminder of the appalling ways in which, over many years, he has attacked and denigrated other churches, including the Church of Ireland.”

He added: “Naturally, as an Anglican, I disagree with aspects of Pope Benedict's doctrinal teaching, not least his view of the status of the Church of Ireland.

“However, I consider it enormously regrettable that so many Roman Catholic people will have effectively been insulted by Mr Paisley.”

The interview was broadcast yesterday on the BBC's World Service.

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