Protests underway as Pope anticipates UK tour

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Pope Benedict has said he is looking forward to his visit to the UK next week and thanked everyone for trying to make it a "joyful celebration", as campaigners launch protests in the UK.

The 83-year-old German pontiff will visit Scotland and England in a four-day trip that has sparked some controversy amid a wave of sexual abuse allegations that have rocked the Catholic Church in recent months.

During his visit, the first visit of a pope since 1982, Pope Benedict is expected to privately meet a group of people who have been abused by priests, as has been the case on other international visits.

It comes as members of the Protest the Pope group met with the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, urging the Vatican to hand over its sex abuse files to police world-wide.

Leading gay and human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, said Archbishop Smith promised to pass on their demands.

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