Pope John Paul II said today a united Europe could be a beacon of civilization, but his speech was disrupted by the Rev. Ian Paisley shouting that the pontiff was the “anti-Christ.”
As the Pope began an address to the European Parliament, Paisley, a hard-line Northern Ireland Protestant who is a deputy in the assembly, began shouting, “Anti-Christ!” and waving a red banner reading, “John Paul II Anti-Christ.”
Other deputies threw their agenda papers at Paisley. Fighting broke out and the banner was snatched from Paisley, who complained afterward that he had been punched.
The president of the 518-member Parliament, Lord Henry Plumb of Britain, tried to call Paisley to order, saying: “I ask you to respect the dignity of this house.”
Loud Applause for Pope
The Pope watched in silence, a faint smile on his face.
But Paisley continued shouting, and Plumb had him ejected from the chamber by parliamentary stewards.
Resuming his speech to loud applause, the Pope said there are three areas in which a united Europe, open to the communist East and generous to the Third World, can regain its role as a beacon of civilization.
These, he said, are protection of the environment, reconciling man with his fellow man by accepting other cultures, foreigners and refugees, and reconciling man with himself spiritually.