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Nicholas Leonard: Brown's spin doctors are frantically trying to humanise his image as the election draws near

Nicholas Leonard

Published 08/02/2010 | 05:00

The Vatican is now more actively involved in trying to influence key political decisions in Britain than at any time since 1527 when Henry VIII clashed with the Pope over his plan to get his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled so that he could marry Anne Boleyn.

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The tensions over such controversial issues as euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryo research, abortion, faith schools, adoption, gay employment rights and the ban on Catholics marrying the monarch will be highlighted later this year when Pope Benedict XVI is to pay an official visit to Britain.

There is a sharp contrast between the emotional, enthusiastic welcome which the late John Paul II received in Britain back in 1982 and the cooler atmosphere, edging towards outright hostility in some quarters, which is likely to greet his successor.

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