Diplomat Disciplined Over Pope Memo is Named


Anjoum Noorani, 31, was the leader of the Papal Visit Team which drew up a document suggesting the Pope should launch his own range of “Benedict” condoms, open an abortion clinic and stay in a council flat in Bradford.

Mr Noorani, whose identity has until now remained secret, was moved to “other duties” after he gave authorisation for the memo to be sent to Downing Street and three Whitehall departments.

He should be sacked.

On what grounds, though? He was asked to hold a brainstorming session, which of its nature means that nothing is barred, which he did. He was asked to circulate the document arising from this brainstorming session which he did, pointing out that it was for internal use only.

So on what grounds could he be sacked?

For what it’s worth, I get the impression that Catholics this side of the pond see it as a storm in a teacup, and agree with the Bishop who was interviewed who said that Catholics are used to much worse.

One or two posters on other threads have called it ‘beyond disgusting’ which seems a gross exaggaration. The rape of babies and of disabled elderly people, is beyond disgusting. This stupidity is not, it’s just stupid. An English saying - today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish -and- chip paper. In other words, time will show that the incident really isn’t that important, and will blow over. If there’s anything to be shocked about, it’s the juvenile silliness in those who should have known better. I really don’t see any malice.

There is a level of malice which seems to float upon the waters of incivility in current culture…to say it is merely silly seems both naive and unwise. Should there be no standard of adult, professional conduct in national diplomacy?

Gerry Zipf

I live in the UK and do not treat it as a “storm in a teacup”. And, I am not even going to argue that as a Catholic. Noorani, as an FCO diplomat ought to be sacked for simply being a fatuous official who failed to exercise due diligence with his assignment over the Papal visit. Many would also query, as I do, whether Noorani would have gotten off as lightly if his conduct had offended faith communities other than the Catholics.

Will it blow over? Considering the forthcoming election and FCO’s incompetence in this matter, it could very well be an issue which would hang around for a few days more.

You’re right that there probably wouldn’t be grounds for sacking given that the exercise was conveniently termed a “brainstorm”… However, as I heard someone point out elsewhere, a teacher can be (and has been, if I recall correctly) sacked for wearing a Crucifix around their neck, yet a so-called diplomat - an employee of the British Foreign Office - can come up with such offensive suggestions and be merely moved to other duties.

Certainly a “brainstorm” exercise gives great scope for those involved, and while technically nothing is barred, there are still standards and a degree of realism and respect. Suppose my government in Ireland was about to welcome the Queen of England on a state visit - if there was a brainstorm, to suggest that the Queen of England might have afternoon tea with the president of Ireland is acceptable and realistic; however to suggest afternoon tea with members of the IRA would be seen as a sick joke, and a most un-professional and un-diplomatic item to put forward- even in a brainstorm session.

I wonder when Mr Noorani has brainstorm sessions for all other visiting heads of state does he suggest that they open abortion wards, launch their own range of condoms, or stay in a council flat? I highly doubt it. He and his accomplices clearly know enough about the Church to be able to come up with such provoking suggestions which are violently opposed to the morals and teachings of the Holy Father and the Church, yet they were not so knowledgeable on the fact that no single organisation in the world runs as many AIDS clinics as the Catholic Church.

The fact that the memo was marked for internal use only is no excuse. This is a diplomat in the Foreign Office! I wonder what the reaction would be if such a person was found to have been using his work-time, Foreign Office resources and taxpayers’ money to circulate anti-semitic comments…I’m quite sure the “for internal use only” excuse would not wash.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that the remarks were deliberate and most certainly not well-meant. If a member of the Foreign Office, involved in co-ordinating visits to the U.K. by foreign heads of state is not able to give due respect to a person by virtue of their office as president, prime-minister, pope, etc., then they are doing a disservice to the Foreign Office, the British Government, not to mention the image it gives of British society to outsiders looking in.

For gross stupidity. Part of the role of the Foreign Office is to treat visiting Heads of State with, at the very least, dipomatic respect.

He is working in the Foreign Office. Under what grounds could the activities mentioned be considered ‘ideal activities’

What would the response be for a Foreign Office official to produce a list listing "Ideal Activities’ for a visit by President Obama that would consist of:

  • Brown greeting him at the airport dressed in a Klansman’s robe
  • having the President go cotton picking?
  • Put Michelle Obama up on a stand and have people bid for her ( as a Charity fundraiser, you understand)

After all, that would just be a ‘brainstorming’ session too. :rolleyes:

If such a memo was produced by the Foreign Office for an Obama visit, how long to you think that person would have before they were sacked?

If a person could not see how the suggested activities were so incredibly far from being ‘Ideal’, then they have no business being employed by the Foreign Office.


I have participated in and led many brainstorming sessions. The brainstorming environment does not mean “nothing is barred;” it means that all ideas can be brought forward. In a corporate setting, a brainstorm participant who brought forth ideas using offensive language would be immediately disciplined. The worse offense is that this diplomat was charged with creating a document summarizing the brainstorming session. Part of that charge is to clean up the raw material. Usually this means organizing the comments in a way that makes sense to the reader, eliminating redundant points, etc. It would most certainly involve the responsibility to remove anything offensive. In the US, circulating this kind of document would likely result in a “hostile environment” legal action. I know things are a bit different in the UK.

Or if he had written offensive comments about a racial minority or about women?

Norani 31 years old is clearly not Catholic nor does he behave like a mature, respectuful adult.

Let’s just speculate for minute as Mr. Noorani has done and let’s just choose Islam or Hinduism as the butt of jokes like this. People have had fatwas initiated on them for a similar type of religious “humor”. As for the Hindus, do you think that this group would appreciate religious disrespect in the form of “humor” or “brain storming” if their ideals and beliefs were dragged through the mud?

This guy needs to grow up. He should be fired to drive home how inappropriate his behavior is.:mad:

Then we only have to look into the case of another FCO diplomat and the FCO’s decision over that diplomat’s conduct.


And that sacking came from just a verbal expression of his bigotry at the gym. Mr. Noorani expressed his bigotry at work as an FCO document.

Yep, sack him.

People are becoming sensitized to vile disrespect for Catholics in general…they think nothing of it when the Pope is grossly degraded. The Catholic Faith is the last best predjudice that can be safely, maliciously attacked. There is no other religious figure nor government official in the world that this kind of vile direspect would be allowed. Just wouldn’t happen. I guess it depends on how you view what was said in the Memo…but YES INDEED, I call it disgusting.

I would bet that more severe consequences would be enacted had this kind of attack been about any other Head of State, so I see The Vicar of Christ to hold the same demand for respect as any other. Yep, I would sack him.

Isn’t ironic if not a bit hypocritical to suggest sacking him which I agree should be done, and would also be quite upset if he were transferred to another post, while at the same time defending the Church when some of Her priests commit egregious immoral sinful acts among Her less vulnerable children and are moved from parish to parish under the covering of certain Bishops? I don’t see why we shouldn’t be consistent in our reactions or remarks to those within and without the Church to those who commit such acts?

The insult was a personal one against the Holy Father. The comparables are without merit in a “tit for tat” argument which is an attempt to use past individual tragic events as a platform against him.

Defending the Church is also not hypocrisy because the informed Catholic know where you state that “**some **of Her priests commit egregious immoral sinful acts among Her less vulnerable children…” do not reflect on the many priests who are faithful to their vocations.

Firstly, those - at least those who have commented thus far on this thread - who have suggested sacking the person in question have not been defending the criminal, immoral and sinful acts of some members of the Church. Defending the Church is most certainly not the same as defending the crimes of some of its members.

There is indeed a rather morally-relativistic attitude going around at the moment which you have highlighted: that is, the idea that the Church should keep quiet, with some asking “who are they [the Pope, bishops, priests] to be telling us what to do after what ‘their lot’ have done”. The idea that once a person has fallen into sin he has no capability or right to recognise the sins of others does not make sense: can we presume, for example, that those who think that the Church (and Catholics generally) should keep its mouth shut would fail to report their car (or other property) stolen - I mean, given that they are sinners or have themselves done wrong, wouldn’t it be rather hypocritical to report someone else for doing wrong? Of course not - because despite what wrongs the car-owner had done, there was an attack on his personal property & society would see it as his duty to defend what is rightfully his.

In the story concerning the Foreign Office, the consistent moral teachings of the Catholic Church have been attacked and ridiculed in a manner most unbecoming an office of the British Government. The sins of some in the Church have opened the Church to a level of ridicule and anti-Catholic vitriol which would not be acceptable in any other religion or any sector of secular society. The judgement that the secular world is currently passing on the Catholic Church does not in the least take away from the fact that the Church has a duty to firstly, follow the will of God and work for His glory, and secondly, to guide the faithful as Christ commanded by upholding the teachings it has held faithfully for two millennia.

I dont think the pope would want him sacked by anymeans.

I think Mr. Doorani’s disciplinary action should fit the immaturity of the offense.

He should be made to stand before the Pope and admit he was wrong and ask the Pope’s forgiveness.

Then he should be made to write on a chalkboard a hundred times… “I will not insult the Pope or any other head of state again.”

After that, he can go home from detention. :thumbsup:

Perhaps. And, even if the Holy Father would not want him sacked, it does not mean that many would agree with him. The differing stance from the Holy Father would be held by various groups on the basis that Noorani is a government employee and one gives due notice of what transpired at the FCO as a tax payer.

Earlier on, a poster mentioned that this is a “storm in a teacup”. It is not. Christian communities over here are immensely pressured by domestic and European legislation (there is a pending appeal by the Italian government against an ECHR decision to remove all crucifixes from classrooms in Italy catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=34811 ) which threaten the exercise of religious freedom. In addition to that, we have government agencies with wall-to-wall carpeting of secularists and a judiciary which are increasingly disfavouring Christian ethos.


So, this event is not seen as a “storm in a teacup”. Especially not by those at grassroots level who have been seriously affected by it.


While others can take a liberal political view of what had transpired at the FCO as a tax payer and take this as a matter that will “blow over”, the Christian faith communities also take on board a much more serious view and expect the FCO to commit itself to diligence with faith groups.


Considering all of the above and even if the Holy Father would be forgiving of the mischief by the FCO and not personally call for the dismissal Mr Noorani, I think he would not mind that we do.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.