Protect the Pope thanks Pret A Manger for removing its Virgin Mary crisp brand

Pret A Manger has contacted Protect the Pope to inform us that following yesterday’s post on their Virgin Mary brand of crisps and readers of our site contacting them to express their concern Pret A Manger’s CEO Clive Schlee has decided to remove this brand immediately from their outlets.  Pret A Manger has apologised for any unintentional offence they have caused and have indicted that they will give any unsold crisps to the homeless. Clive Schlee has admitted to a reader of Protect the Pope that taking this brand of crisps off their shelves will cost them quite a bit of money but ‘good businesses listen and react quickly’.

Here are the two tweets from Pret


Here are some of the replies to readers of Protect the Pope from Pret:

From Clive Schlee to a reader of Protect the Pope:

‘You will be glad to hear I have taken your advice. We have now had a lot of calls and emails from our customers and we have decided to stop selling the crisps with effect from today. This is costing us quite a bit of money but good businesses listen and react quickly. We will be giving the unsold crisps to charity.’

‘Dear Nicolas

We are extremely sorry that the crisp name that we had selected has offended you. This wasn’t our intention. After receiving a number of comments similar to yours, Clive (Pret’s CEO) has taken your advice and decided to remove all of the crisps from our shops with effect from today.

We will be donating the unsold crisps to homeless charities that we support across the country.

Thank you for writing. We do listen and we have tried to react quickly

Kindest Regards

Gaynor Stocker

Mel posts:

I just got a voice message of the CEO Clive Schlee saying they are removing the Virgin Mary after listening to customers, I rang him earlier after reading the comments on here. If Clive keeps his words, then indeed this is a victory for the Church Militant. All thanks and praise to Jesus.

Protect the Pope comment:  Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns as Catholics and for acting so quickly to remove the brand of crisps. It seems fitting that Pret A Manger are planning to give any unsold crisps to the homeless. Thanks also to the readers of Protect the Pope for contacting Pret A Manger to express their concerns. God bless you all for your passion and desire to stand up for our Catholic faith.  I’d like to express my special thanks to the reader of Protect the Pope who first brought this news to our attention, but wants to remain anonymous.  One of the things we need to go away and think about is what this incident tells us about how we defend our faith in the future. We’ve been passive for too long in the face of mockery of our faith and discrimination against us as Catholics. We can change things!


194 comments to Protect the Pope thanks Pret A Manger for removing its Virgin Mary crisp brand

  • Mel

    “One of the things we need to go away and think about is what this incident tells us about how we defend our faith in the future. We’ve been passive for too long in the face of mockery of our faith and discrimination against us as Catholics. We can change things!”

    We are the Church Militant. ‘The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force’ Matt 11:12

    • Peteplumb

      It wasn’t an attack on your faith,it’s a bag o crisps
      Now many homeless people will die o cholesterol poisoning.
      How does god feel about that.

    • ian

      you lot need to get a life,changing the name a brand of chrisps would not make me folow your pontless religon

      • not

        All in all that’s a good result since both your reasoning and faith would be seriously flawed. That said, there are quite a lot of virgins named Mary other than Mary of the New Testament. Then there is the cocktail made the world over. So seriously, the name of the chips was never a religious reference. If there is a group that feels this was some sort of victory, then indeed it was a pointless one.

    • Richard Buxton

      Discrimination against a religion is wicked – as for mockery all religions are fair game.

      • Mal

        I think you are misunderstanding what “Discrimination” means.

        If you would like to leave this answer for a while, whilst you figure it out – no worries – Come back any time.

        Back already! Wow. Impressed.

        So now you know. You meant prejudice didn’t you? Not discrimination. I can discriminate between any two things – you need at least two to discriminate between them. I do it every day. So do you.

        I discriminate all religions sooner than get up for breakfast. How else do you tell them apart if you do not discriminate between them?

        Please tell us…

    • David

      This is very sad – will you be campaigning against all the pubs that sell a ‘Virgin Mary’? That is, after all, where the crisps got their name.

    • sav7844

      if any religion can provide me with one scrap of evidence to support it then i will preach that religion till my dieing day untill then its time to pipe down!!!!

  • Deacon Nick Donnelly

    Mel, I share your passion to defend the faith but we have to be prudent with our language. You’ve quoted that enigmatic saying of Jesus from Matthew’s Gospel, which has to be balanced with the many sayings of Jesus about loving our enemies and doing good to those who hurt us. We engaged in spiritual combat, and our weapons are God’s truth and God’s love. The two always go together, love and truth. Deacon Nick

  • Simon

    The name was offensive, of course, to not just Romans, but Orthodox and Anglicans and many others besides. I am glad we united on this to make a difference. Devotion to Our Blessed Lady is shared by many across the Church.

    • J Hunter

      Simon, i’m not so sure that you are speaking for the anglicans i know… And you are not speaking for me, the crisp name is not offensive to me at all.. I do not worship Mary, as a Christian I worship Jesus. In Christ alone my hope is found. I don’t see anywhere in scripture that we are directed to venerate Mary in the way Catholics do. No offence intended.

      • Isaiah

        We do NOT worship Mary. Worship and devotion are very different things. Catholics worship God alone. We give Mary the honour that she deserves. Remember the angel Gabriel said “Hail Mary, full of grace”. At any other point in the Bible have you heard an angel say anything like that to a human being? If an archangel can say these words to Our Lady then I’m sure it will please God to show devotion to Mary.

  • ms Catholic state

    Thank you Mr Schlee. My family will be very happy to fraternise Pret a Manger now :) We all love Our Blessed Mother in Heaven.

  • Mel

    Deacon Nick I agree 100%, we should never isolate Scripture from their wider context i.e. love and forgiveness. However the Church of Jesus Christ has been quiet and passive for too long as you stated and that Scripture means that the mission of the Church is never going to be fulfilled if we Catholics seat on our backside and do nothing, we do need to be violently passionate for the kingdom. May God bless Clive Schlee and a big thank you to you Deacon Nick for all the great and prophetic work you are doing for the Kingdom, this blog is a god send to so many, many Catholics.

  • Dylan

    Hear, hear! It is important to acknowledge when a company such as Pret-a-Manger has had the courage to make a u-turn like this — and so quickly, too. Thankfully, I will now be able to eat their cheese and ham-filled croissants once more! Thank you, Deacon Nick, and thanks to the person who first contacted you and Pret about this situation.

  • Karla

    Well done to everybody who stood up for the faith. When Catholics stand together, prayer and action = win

  • Mel

    P.s Your right Deacon Nick – humble apologies for the lack of prudence on my part, non-Catholics/ those from Pret A Manager could have read my post and got the wrong idea, thanks for charitably pointing this out to me. God bless.

  • Rifleman 819

    Dear Deacon Nick ,

    If anything …I’m with Mel on this one.

    The time for Geneva Convention/Marquis of Queensbury rules is over.Our spiritual and physical enemies only abide by utter (and cowardly) hatred for us.

    Two very recent instances immediately spring to mind….HH Pope Dawk of North Oxford made a perhaps stupidly critical statement on the social media about Islamic militants in Mali.Then this paragon of atheistic courage very quickly self-censored himself and issued a series of increasingly grovelling retractions.(To 600,000 followers on Twitter, I understand)

    And secondly the BBC ommitted vital lines from the recent radio play involving less than flattering allusions to Islam and Sikhism.

    We all know they would not do the same with in relation to Catholicism.

    Turn the other cheek by all means …up to a point.

    One of the sharpest weapons we have is to make our secularist enemies squirm when we expose their double standards on matters of,say , new “faith” academies and so on ….let us question in the public forum why in the future the NSS will almost certainly not run campaigns against state-funded Muslim schools , as they did in Richmond against Catholic ones.

    Get Terry Sanderson spluttering for a change.

    I feel Mel is right….the basic norms of society and tolerance are/have(?) broken down.
    Time to take the fight to the enemy…inundate the media using the legal complaint mechanisms.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Rifleman, I’ve got no problems with using legal complaint mechanisms or any other form of non-violent resistance. I think that we have to be careful about our use of the word ‘violence’, because our enemies would just love to portray us as violent fundamentalists. Deacon Nick

      • Rifleman 819

        Deacon Nick ,

        Agree totally ……..yet the “rear-gunner” Taliban of the NSS are constantly taking the fight to us….and looking at the concerns of Archbishop Peter Smith …he has realised the vehemence of threat.

        So what is our strategy then?

        The Catholic establishment in England and Wales has woken up far too late to the sheer evil in our enemies’ agenda and we now need a proactive campaign to take the fight to our sworn adversaries.

        At each and every turn we have been completely outmanouerved by a relentless and planned scheme of attack.

        “Protect the Pope” columns appear to be a litany of the Catholic church being biffed by a tiny and aggressive minority who are past masters at media manipulation.

        During the run up to the Papal visit I decided to take on Tatchell in the “Guardian” over the lack of gay protests in mosques rather than Christian cathedrals-we sparred over a long weekend and it got really nasty and I received full venom from his “Guardianista” supporters……..but he was really rattled.I out-tatchelled Tatchell and he really did not like it.

        In the end I received the supreme accolade of being locked out of the blog comments.He had lost the argument …in public…and lost face as well.

        Their Achilles heal is ridicule-they dish it out but do not like receiving it.
        And we take on their hypocrisy as well….they don’t like that either.

      • Jason

        Oh dear, I wish ‘faith’ could be used towards worth-while things, such as Love and Peace and Harmony… In addition, it’s my believe the Catholic Church could be doing better things with it’s time, preferably not trying to ‘own’ marriage, an ancient tradition to celebrate a life-long love between two people and not necessarily anything to do with a God. Oh the humanity…

        • Jason, it’s in the name of ‘Love and Peace and Harmony’ that you can live in a society where you don’t have to name a bag of crisps (or a cocktail for that matter), after the Virgin Mary.

          Marriage is an ancient tradition about creating families and procreation. It’s not to denigrate a relationship without children, it’s just to say marriage is a lot older than the Catholic Church, and the belief that people of the same sex can’t marry just as old. Please argue we are now more enlightened, but don’t kid yourself that there was a time in the past when people thought two people of the same sex could marry. Even in societies where gay relationships were accepted (and even considered more plutonic), they didn’t get ‘married’. Please don’t try and change the whole of history to justify your own personal views…

    • Christina J

      We don’t hate you we can just see that you are irrelevant. Maybe you will when you work you way through your childhood brainwashing.

      • Please, if we are irrelevant, don’t waste your time calling us names. It is rather childish.

        I’m sure atheists bring up their children as atheists: isn’t that brainwashing?

        • Martin J

          Nick, sorry my friend – you’re not entirely correct. Sure, some atheists bring up their children to vehemently not believe in a supernatural deity, and I disagree with that. Of all the atheists I know only a handful take that approach whilst the vast majority bring up their children to be free thinkers which basically means that they are encouraged to make up their own mind when they have collected enough information on the subject. I was fortunate enough to have parents who allowed me the freedom to make my own decisions regarding religion. How many Catholics do you think can say the same thing, and which is the better approach in your opinion?

          • Hi Martin, I don’t think you can force your own belief on anyone: it’s a gift. Forcing is more likely to have the opposite effect. I have three children and I can see them developping in different ways because I respect them in the same way as most parents do. I wasn’t accusing atheists of forcing their opinions on their children. I was saying Catholics and Christians don’t do it any more than atheists do. What I’d like is for you to treat as as normal people who respect their children and their choices just as much as anybody else. Stop labelling us.

          • Martin J

            We agree Nick, forcing any belief on anybody is bad. I’m pleased that we concur on this point. I would argue that it’s a practice that occurs more with theists than with non-believers, but not necessarily in this country. In other countries and other religions this is a major problem… In Islam for example, the penalty for apostasy is death. However, this is off topic and I respect your personal views on this matter.

          • Perhaps Martin you can begun to understand that it’s the fact that God doesn’t force us to believe, through manifestations or lightening bolts, but gives me the choice, showing He is the loving God of the New Testament, who respects us, who has made us in His image, and wants to win our Love…

            For me, the greatest sign of His love is that he has given is free will, and this is why I do not find it contradictory to believe in a loving God that allows the world to take its course, where natural disasters occur, where evil exists, and allows us to shape its course, sharing in His creation.

    • Martin J

      Carla, Faith schools are an unfortunate reality.

      • Can you tell a Catholic in the street from a non-Catholic? If I thought faith-schools brain-washed children I wouldn’t send my children there. I went to a faith school as my siblings did, and some of us believe and some of us don’t, because the teaching of the Church is that faith comes from within us. You just have to look at the number of Catholics who’ve been to faith school and don’t believe to know that what we believe in is freedom of choice.

        • Martin J

          No, obviously I wouldn’t be able to tell a Catholic from a non-Catholic in the street. What’s your point?

          How can dividing children by faith and segregating them ever be a good idea if we have the ambition of a better understanding of each other?

          • The fact we live in a free country means we can set up schools to give our children a Catholic education. The majority of what is taught, including religious education, is the same as at any other State school and there are many safeguards and Ofsted inspectors to ensure the schools are behaving properly. Many of the teachers are not Catholic anyway, and the only reason that, say in London, there are not more non-Catholic pupils is that there aren’t enough for all the Catholic children, and at the moment bids to open new ones are being hampered by the Secular Society. My sons is at a Jesuit school and his best friend there is a non-Catholic.

            The point about not being able to tell the difference between a non-Catholic and a Catholic is that it doesn’t make a big difference – there’s no way you can accuse us of a gheto mentality or not fully integrating in society.

            In Northern Ireland the segration was needed because of all the hate and prejudice there, but I believe there’s a good case that there should be more mixed schools there. Of course in the UK, every school – whether Catholic or not, is full of Catholics.

          • Martin J

            It’s my view that Religious Education should be taught in schools as I believe that it’s important for my children to have a good understanding of as many religions as possible. I’m pleased that the school which my children attend (which is not a faith school…. I didn’t need to tell you that did I :) ) teaches Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. I do not campaign for the abolition of Religious Education. That said, I can’t see us agreeing on this one – which is fine.

            Again, off topic… moving on.

  • [...] food chain Pret A Manger has withdrawn a brand of potato chips called “Virgin Mary” from its outlets after [...]

  • Andrea

    This was just silly, you make yourselves look obsessive and bullying. It’s a crisp….get it in proportion.

    • Damian

      It’s about Our Lady, the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, I think you need to get your sense of proportion correct.

      • Mark

        So as has been mentioned a number of times, now get up and campaign against Virgin Mary cocktails, which you probably never knew about. If you can stand back a bit and observe what has happened, don’t you feel it’s all a bit ridiculous?

      • Phil

        Why do you assume it’s about your particular Mary? I mean there are lots of Mary’s in the world, and many of them are virgins. Besides which, why is after a crisp named after you offensive? I mean, it’s but quite humbled to think of people crunching their way through a potato-based comestible named in my honour.

        Still, I guess, people believe some weird things. Next you’ll be saying that the world was creating in seven days!

        • Phil – you’ve never come across the term ‘Virgin Mary’ and never associated with the Mother of God? Why, you must be as ignorant as me for never having heard of the cocktail.

          We certainly live in a strange world where more people associate the Virgin Mary with the Virgin Mary, than with a cocktail ;)

  • Dave

    I wonder how many people picking up those crisps thought about Mary and Catholicism for the first time since childhood?

    You’ve made the news with this story for today, but will be forgotten tomorrow.

    If you’d kept your collective mouth shut, Pret would’ve carried on advertising your ‘product’ for free.

    Congratulations on joining the secularist drive to push religion from the public space.

    Thank you for letting the world know that you are a bunch of humourless, self-important whingers.

  • Alex

    Thanks for this; it was done with politeness and grace.

  • Smile

    What a great spiritual service has been provided! Oh really! Well at least Pret have kindly fed some homeless folks out of this. Well done to them.

    I never knew of this website and my ignorance was bliss. This all appears to be very sad.

    Since when did the Pope need protecting. He has enough funds, a protection squad, publicity team, prosecution service, judges etc even a state to himself need I go on. I see alot of worship of the man and institution but little of the true message of Jesus.

    Oh yes. Check it out this blog is run by one person and no way of contacting him direct.

    Hmmm so what it going here?


  • Jan

    we shall fight on the beaches,
    we shall fight on the landing grounds,
    we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
    we shall fight in the hills;

    we shall fight one bag of crisps after another

    we shall NEVER surrender!

  • Wolfgang

    How about protecting the abused rather than worrying about crisps named after a non-alcoholic cocktail

    • It’s not possible to do both?

      • Martin J

        Nick, you’ve called people on this thread ignorant a number of times, sometimes with justification. I have to say that you’re being slightly ignorant if you can’t see Wolfgang’s point here.

        • I didn’t pick up on the flippant way he bought up child-abuse. I know many priests who are great witnesses to our faith, and they have been let down by a small minority and they collectively share in the shame this has brought to all of us. However, I’m guessing you are no more ignorant than I, Martin, and know that abuse isn’t condoned by Catholics. In fact, most people know we don’t condone any sex outside marriage.

          • Martin J

            Yes I appreciate that the vast majority of Catholics do not condone this behaviour, and I also realise that it’s not only Catholics that are responsible for these atrocities. What people are angry about is the Vatican’s handling of the situation. It is a fact that members of the Catholic hierarchy failed to report those responsible to the proper authorities, this makes people a bit cross, it’s also known that abusive priests were actively being moved to other parishes where in some cases they continued their immoral practices. Put simply those responsible should have been removed from their positions.

            On top of this, a letter was sent by the Vatican to Ireland’s Roman Catholic bishops instructing them to not report child abuse. This event is well documented, and again makes people a bit cross and disillusioned with the Catholic Faith.

            You must surely understand how this is so wrong?

          • Martin – we your comments below, I totally agree with you, and where on earth did you get the impression I did not think it was wrong?

  • Mike Taylor

    Wasn’t ‘Bloody Mary’ a catholic monarch who, in the name of religion, murdered thousands of protestants? I think you guys need to get a sense of proportion! It is just a crisp, after all.

  • Michael

    Thank you Nick Donnelly for standing up to the pervasive and persistent erosion of Christian values and beliefs.

  • phil

    It’s unbelievable that a name on a packet of crisps could cause such a fuss. The fact that no one has ever been born of a virgin apart from in fairy tales is surly more relavent than the name of some crisps. Faith has a huge amount to answer for not least young children being indoctrinated then growing up to think that they have some devine right to decide what a packet of crisps is called or not called because it effends their faith! Really

    • CommonSense

      Absolutely right Phil!

      So what if people are offended? I’m offended by dub-step music and ITV2 but I’m not going to try and get it banned. Why should people who say “it’s offensive to my faith?” receive special treatment?

      I believe in the flying spaghetti monster. Why, catholics, do you not take us seriously? I find this website’s lack of mention of the flying spaghetti monster offensive!! I’m going to get it banned! We both believe in the same thing basically :)

      • If somebody named a crisp flavour after a pop group, after after the flying spaghetti monster, copyright laws would mean they would have to get permission. There’s no ‘copyright’ on the Virgin Mary, but there are still people protecting the name.

        Get up in arms about copyright – seems far more unfair than a company selling something not wanting to offend its customers. It’s not just Catholics who associate the Virgin Mary with the Mother of God ;)

  • Good grief. Are there not more important issues in the world than a packet of strangely named crisps.
    As a catholic man, I find it incredible we should be campaigning to outlaw crisps, when we have a world awash with hunger (no pun intended!), poverty, greed and general wrongdoing, far more needy of our time and effort to resolve.
    Is it any wonder the Catholic Church is-loosing its way, dwindling numbers at mass, struggling to recrute new clergy etc.
    There are far to many extreme religious organisations in the world without us joining them.
    We need to Concentrate on what makes Catholicism great, helping the needy, looking out for one another and general leading an honest hardworking life.
    Crisps… , , ! Please!

  • Wallburgers

    I don’t think you should have the word truth on your header it’s misleading. You might mislead people into believing the fiction of the bible is true. How can you honestly in your heart of hearts continue with this deception? What’s the difference between someone with blind faith encouraging the murder of people because of their natural sexual orientations and the blind faith of a schizophrenic who murders their family while believing they are doing the right thing? There is no difference. Part and parcel of the same idiocy. Religion used to be the guiding light in the search for knowledge, it has unfortunately crystalized into a rigid snare against the progress of our species.The more you resist religion the tighter the snare becomes, we are all caught in this snare with you and only you can cut the chord. Also there are some truth’s about your precious Pope that you really don’t wish to hear, truth is all or nothing, you can’t pick and choose ones that don’t offend. I encourage you to seek out the meaning of Truth with conviction and honesty. Hopefully you wil open your eyes and realise carrying that cross has massive ramifications for everyone on the planet and it isn’t a hopeful or good thing.

    • Wallburgers – I think you are totally blind to the fact that millions of peoople, truly, in all conviction and honesty believe in God. If you want me to believe you are such a person, believe that I am and that I find all the fulfillment I need through my Catholic faith. You’d know it was the truth if you took some time to learn about it and the people who believe in it.

      • Martin J

        Nick, one thing that I’ve never understood is how it is that people can worship a deity that (according to your book) has committed atrocities such as genocide (multiple times). The bible condones rape, slavery, killing of heretics, killing of witches….. where do these things sit on your moral compass?

        I ask because I believe that millions of believers conveniently overlook these things.

        • I think the problem you have begins with the idea of ‘my book’, because there are many books. As a Christian I follow the New Testament, and as Catholics are not fundamentalists, when I read about e.g. God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, I think it’s a natural disaster which people at the time interpreted as something that was coming to them / God’s justice. There are lots of moral lessons to learn from the Old Testament, but as an avid historian and student of literature, I take an informed and educated view, and as a Christian, I read the Old Testament in the context of the New Testament – the new commandment being ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’. I actually don’t have much truck with Christian churches that seem to spend most of their time discussing and quoting the Old Testament in preference to the simple and direct message of love in the New Testament. In Christian terms, the Son of God scores higher than the prophets.

          Where does the bible condone rape and slavery etc? And are you saying because the Old Testament condones the death penalty, that it’s the height of all evil? The US is a Christian country and condones the death penalty. Catholics don’t anymore, and I personally think that’s truer to the spirit of Christ’s teaching, but I’m not a pacifist.

          • Martin J

            My misunderstanding of your beliefs is an issue here, I find that when debating theists the difficulty is that they tend to cherry-pick the nice things and turn a blind eye to the bits that are immoral. The Old Testament clearly condones rape, but as you’ve said that you follow the New Testament this is irrelevant; except for the fact that if the Old Testament was good enough for Jesus and his apostles then you’d think it would be good enough for Christians? Jesus called the Old Testament ‘The Word of God’, and when the apostle Paul wrote, ‘All Scripture is inspired of God’ the only book recognized at that time as Scripture was the Old Testament.

            Slavery is condoned in Old and New testaments. This is well documented and if you really want me to list the references I will, but they’re easily obtainable. My suspicion is that it would be a waste of time because it would come down to interpretation. Obviously you are a decent, moral human being, and slavery is not something that you would want to admit exists in there since you believe morality comes from the bible. There’s a lot of agile theist dodging that goes on in this area because of that fact.

          • Hi Martin, re below. I would be interested in the bit that condones rape. Women were stoned for adultery so it really doesn’t make any sense, so yes – please back it up.

            As to the rest this isn’t the place to go into detail, but we can do it in private if you want to. I didn’t say I didn’t follow the Old Testament: just that I take it in context of the Gospels. The big story from the Old Testament was the tribes of Israel escpaing slavery, which suggests slavery was is a bad thing. I’m not aware that in Christ’s time, the Jews kept slaves. I presumed they didn’t.

  • Max Hall

    I purchased two packets along with my carrot cake when I felt particularly ravenous. I got them for the flavour, I didn’t even for a second think of anything religious.

    No offence but you need to get with the fact most people don’t care what you think and with all the evil in the world, some caused by Catholics themselves, you might want to put some effort into cleaning up your public image and not complaining about crisps.

  • Michael Hardware

    So what next? Are you going to be standing by the bar of every pub and hotel in the land tutting when anyone asks for a Virgin Mary? Or a Bloody Mary for that matter?

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard – the reference is not religious, it is a brand for crisps with a spicy tomato flavour – lease, get a life and focus your efforts on something more worthy.

  • Rab

    It’s a product name. It’s in no way a mockery of The Virgin Mary or using Her to market a product, and taking it as such is verging on the senseless. The term , as has been noted , has been used for many many years to refer to a cocktail. Will you now be contacting every pub, club or bar that serves such to get them to stop using this term?
    I don’t consider myself religious , and whilst I have no problem with a religious group defending itself against hatred, criticism , or mockery , I do feel you’ve somewhat over-reacted here. Doing so seems to imply that you feel you (The Catholic Church) have sole right to use this collection of words.

    • It’s a name – a title. I’m sure the Catholic Church (or the collected Christian Churches) would have taken out copyright if it had been possible. It’s by no stretch of the imagination a random collection of words.

      I’m sure the person who came up with the name of the cocktail new the association, and found it humourous.

  • SteveM

    Congratulations on the crisp victory. Now see if you can do something useful such as tackle AIDS in Africa or solve the problem of child mortality or maybe something a bit simpler, maybe see if you can bring child rapists in your organisation to justice. No? Stick to worrying about crisps then as its about your level of usefulness.

  • Bob

    What a very strange thing to choose to exercise yourselves about.

  • Luke

    Haha! So today you protected the pope by getting a PACKET OF CRISPS that offended you discontinued. Amazing, you deserve all the criticism and mockery you get.
    - The pope doesn’t need any more protection.
    - An omnipresent god wouldn’t need your protection.
    - Everything this site stands for is a waste of time.

  • Paul

    I cannot believe that such an unnecessary fuss could be made concerning a packet of crisps. Have you nothing more important to do? Clearly you have nothing of value to bring to the attention of the rest of society.

    • Paul, I could accuse you of exactly the same thing, posting here. If you really believe the issue is of no importance, why post? The evidence from the responses is that it matters to a lot of people.

      • Martin J

        Nick, it matters because it’s another example of the Church censoring things that offend them, unfortunately the Catholic church is an organisation that wants everybody to see things there way and if they don’t they get a little bit touchy. Let me try to think of another example…. oo, here’s a good one… gay marriage. Please explain why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to form a marital bond? If you could stop it happening, you would wouldn’t you? My question is, why? What does it have to do with you whether two people want to marry regardless of gender? It offends you correct? You are morally corrupt if this offends you, please take some time to think about it.

        • Martin, this isn’t the Catholic Church. How can one deacon, taking independent action in contacting Pret, be seen as the Catholic Church censoring things? Anyway, all the Church – as in the Pope can do is share his opinion. Only people who can change legislature – the UK Government, can censure things. Get things into perspective please, we are just a minority group in this country like any other.

          I’m fully happy and content living in a society where free will is ingrained, as for me this is proof of God’s love for me – that he doesn’t force things on me. I certainly don’t believe in a religious state that forces people to follow what I believe. My beliefs task me to love everybody equally, and certainly nothing in the way I’ve been brought up – by Catholic parents, in Catholic schools, attending a Catholic Church, makes it difficult for me to love and be friends with gay people. They of course may have issues we me because of my faith, but my best friend is gay. I abhor any kind of prejudice. If I have personal prejudices, they don’t relate to gay people.

  • RickC

    Amazing to me you whiney Christians still feel you need to defend your faith. Just the fact that you can persuade a chip manufacturer to drop a brand shows what power you still wield. I have no agreements with you mythos but also have no problem with you living it. In private. Quit forcing yourselves on the rest of us, or there really will be a need to defend your faith.

  • God

    This is ridiculous – withdraw your complaint and let Pret a Manger sell whatever they think fit.

  • Francesco

    The name is offensive only to the ignorant: Virgin Mary is the name of a very famous alcohol free cocktail, derived from Bloody Mary (the alcoholic version) it is normal practice to change the name of a cocktail adding virgin in front (or replacing the first word with it if the cocktail name is made of more than one word) to identify the alcohol free version.
    No reference whatsoever to the Mother of Jesus (other than for the over-sensitive).
    And removing the crisps from sale achieves nothing, whoever wants an alcohol free Bloody Mary still has to ask the barman for a Virgin Mary.

    • I’m one of the very ignorant. It seems to be a person who’s opinion matters, you have to be non-religous and a pub frequenter ;)

      I think Pret are aiming their products at a wider market.

      • Martin J

        Nick, simply not true and I think you know it…. you don’t have to be non-religious to have an opinion, that’s a bit of a silly thing to say. It’s also possible to have an incorrect, or morally questionable opinion. For instance, it’s perfectly okay for you to have an opinion that God exists. It is NOT okay to attempt to force other people to live their lives by the doctrines based on your opinion.

        • Martin, I find it hard see how anything you’ve said here is relevant to either what I or Francesco wrote.

          This was about saving Catholics from the offense the crisps caused. It wasn’t about anyone else. How is that imposing our doctrine on other people? You are way off the mark.

      • Francesco

        Your statement that you have to be non religious is incorrect, people all over the world, including practising Catholics, have ordered Virgin Marys since the 30s, and there is no record of anyone ever taking any exception on the name of the cocktail.

        It appears that nowadays there are members of the Catholic Church (fortunately just a minority of them) that have been taking lessons from fundamentalists of other religions, and indulge in taking offence where there is none.

        It is as simple as this: Virgin Mary has two meanings, and they can easily be told apart from the context: when I go to mass on Sunday, I know that the priest does not refer to the cocktail; while when I order it in a bar, I don’t expect the barman to give me a picture of Mary the Mother of Jesus.

        I believe someone needs to be reminded that “omnia munda mundis”. ;)

        • “Your statement that you have to be non religious is incorrect, people all over the world, including practising Catholics, have ordered Virgin Marys since the 30s, and there is no record of anyone ever taking any exception on the name of the cocktail.”
          How in all seriousness can you make a statement like that? Do you really speak for everyone who has lived since the 1930s? There are people taking exception to it right now!

          “What are you eating?”
          “Virgin Mary flavour”

          Don’t you think there’s a difference between naming a flavour and naming a drink?

          • Francesco

            I can make a statement like that from personal experience, and that statement does not imply in any shape or form that I speak for everyone who has lived since the 30s; only that I personally know practising Catholics that have no issue with the name, being of Italian origin I know very little of any other religion.

            If you believe I am incorrect just find an historical record of someone taking an exception to the naming of the cocktail. I am sure you won’t be able to as there are none.

            And yes there is a difference between naming a cocktail and naming a flavour, as crisps can be given to children, I feel that “Virgin Mary” is far more responsible than the traditional and much more used “Bloody Mary” as the former does not promote an alcoholic drink.

            Of course there are people taking exception to it right now, I have already explained where this comes from in the second paragraph of my previous reply, the problem is that tolerance has gone downhill inside the Catholic Church hierarchies since the death of Ioannes Paulus I and this is not going to help winning any converts.

          • Your personal esperience Francesco doesn’t allow you to call say “I am sure you won’t be able to as there are none.” The totality of human experience and response can’t be found through an internet search and you are not in a position to say “there are none”.

            And is your experience mostly in Italy or here in the UK? It would be interesting to know what the cocktail is called in Italy?

  • [...] the decision to withdraw the crisps, he wrote on the Protect the Pope site: “Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns [...]

  • kfca

    Well done, Deacon Nick. Perhaps you should H/T BBC News for all the extra traffic! Maybe now they will realise where the power base really lies within the Catholic laity, and have the good sense to contact speakers such as yourself, anyone recommended by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, James Preece, William Oddie, Francis Phillips etc, instead of that ridiculous cabal associated with the Tablet.

    Maybe the BBC are actually taking note of the comments made in their various surveys about readership opinions regarding their (vast lack of) impartiality in news reporting for once. But can it last? It will be interesting to see how professionally they are capable of reporting the events in the Commons next Tuesday.

  • Steve R.

    So what about all the bars and pubs that serve the non-alcoholic variant of the popular bloody Mary – do they get to suffer the indignation of the Catholic church or is your faith robust enough that you don’t to feel the need to get all shirty over that? I do suspect that were there any real substance to your beliefs, you wouldn’t feel it so necessary to defend them against such a palty thing as a line of savoury snacks!

    • I guess Catholics who are offended by the use of the Virgin Mary as the name of a cocktail don’t frequent those pubs that have the name written up somewhere. Are those words often written up on blackboards or printed on drinks menus? A pub is also an adult environment where a lot of words and views are expressed that may offend people, and presumably that’s why they stay away. I’m sure Pret don’t want people staying away their chain for the same reasons…

      But as to suggesting this is a sign of no real substance to our beliefs, you couldn’t be further from the mark. Of course people believe in God – millions do. You just happen to live in a country where not that many believe, and fewer practise. If you think you are superior because of that, that’s up to you, but your comment – and many of the ones on here just sound like sour grapes. I mean, by posting here, what is it exactly you are making a stand on?

  • Tom Rogers

    Fools! Fools who believe in a farce founded on a fantasy! Which farce? Why, Catholicism of course! It’s just a power game for the plebs.

  • Omar

    I’m slightly alarmed by the use of the term “Church Militant” even more concerned by Pret A Mangers withdrawal of the Virgin Mary Crisps!

    It seems strange to me that you’d get all steamed up over a brand of crisps that has no connection to the actual Virgin Mary or the Catholic church … did you even try them???

    The Crisps harnessed the flavour of a Virgin Mary cocktail (non-alcoholic), a cocktail having been around in one shape or form since the 1920’s..

    Quite how you have interpreted a flavoured crisp as being some kind of violation or infringement indeed a form of discrimination is to say the least bewildering – I would have thought your interests were served better by advancing inter-communal dialog, not bashing a business that is actually contributing to the economic well-being of its employees.

    I think any form of extremism is worrying and sadly this has done nothing to advance Catholicism – other than deprived non-Catholics the opportunity and freedom to try something different – now that is an infringement of rights…. but you’re not concerned with our freedoms are you??

    Being a Muslim I am concerned by the repeated attacks on my communities faith … being equally concerned when real life events translate in to violence, as we have seen over the Mohammed cartoons etc., thus I actually fail to see why you’re screaming and shouting about a simple bag of crisps!!

    What’s next on the Church Militant hit list??

    • Omar, no Christian group has batted an eyelid at the cartoons of God that have appeared in newspapers. The objectino here is to having a crisp flavour named after the Virgin Mary. I understand that Muslims revere the Virgin Mary as the mother of an important prophet. If you can take offence at a cartoon of Mohamad – who is a prophet, not even God, don’t you think the Virgin Mary, who Christians believe is the Mother of God, deserves some respect?

      Next you’ll be saying it’s ok to have images of Mohammed printed on crisp packets…

  • Simon Winkworth

    Wow. I’m not sure where you get this authority from, but I’m impressed that you beleive in a God small enough to be threatened by naming a packet of crisps after a well-known non-alcoholic fruit juice. Truly, an act of faith.

  • Mary Nugatory

    Do you have nothing better to do? (i’m asking myself the same question)

  • Gavin

    Really? Bloody Mary is an alcoholic drink named after Mary Tudor, Queen of England (not Mother of Christ), without alcohol it is virgin, therefore Virgin Mary. No relative to God. You have too much time on your hands to make a campaign out of something unrelated to the Church.

  • [...] the decision to withdraw the crisps, he wrote on the Protect the Pope site: “Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns [...]

  • Melvin

    Well as a catholic I am offended by this website and the decision taken to remove some crisps.

    Being offended doesn’t give you any rights, it’s just a phrase like “I don’t like cheese”. It’s meaningless. It has no purpose. It’s people behind sites like these that contribute giving religion such a bad name.

    Open your minds –

    • As a Catholic I’m disapointed that you’re more interested in your image and PR than in encouraging respect for Our Lady. So what it it’s been used for years as the name of a cocktail: doesn’t make it acceptable or right. We shouldn’t be scared to defend our faith, and that is never rediculous. Having a crisp flavour called the Virgin Mary is rediculous and isn’t worth defending.

  • lyn

    @stevem – couldn’t have put it better :)

  • Barlady

    I am not sure if this has been said clearly!

    A bloody Mary is a vodka based tomato juice drink with spices.

    There are many crisps called this.

    A virgin Mary is the very same drink but for the vodka.

    Now there are no crisps called this.

    It a ‘virgin’ drink as it has no alcohol.

    This has nothing to do with religion.

    • I take your point, and understand Virgin Mary doesn’t have a religious connotation for many people. Unfortunately, for millions of people who remember Christianity and still believe in it, the ‘Virgin Mary’ is the name of a particular person – in the same way ‘Bloody Mary’ is mainly associated with an English Catholic Queen who burnt protestants.

      Therefore, for pub goers (I’m not one), they can’t see what the fuss is about,and certainly the marketing people at Pret didn’t make the connection, but it doesn’t make it less of a problem for Christians. I’d never heard of the drink, and I can’t be the only one.

  • Alan G

    I am glad that the Pret company has taken on board the feelings of Christians and reacted accordingly. The BBC say that the crisps were to be similar in name to Bloody Mary, but Bloody Mary is named after Queen Mary. The Virgin Mary is a sacred Christian figure, mother of Christ and the only person (other than Christ) who ascended bodily into Heaven.

    • Mike Taylor

      Do you reeally believe that nonsense?

      • I do. Don’t you think the World would be a better place if the minority of people who don’t believe took a moment to understand those who do?

        • Martin J

          Nick, as an atheist I have taken the time to try to understand those who believe, and in some cases I do understand. Most atheists are passionate about the truth, and since there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for the existence of a supernatural being, and no evidence whatsoever that the events in your book are true…. it’s kinda difficult to understand. It’s made even harder by the fact that your God has such an evil streak.

          • Martin – I’ve heard this so many times from non-believers, and it just reinforces my belief you don’t understand us as all. We find the evidence in our lives, in the people around us and in the world around us. The signs are there to everybody who is open to them. Just because you’ve never experienced it, it doesn’t make it untrue.

            The other thing that reinforces my belief is in the message of the gospels. I think many things that you probably think are ok, like abortion, evil streaks in our society. The only argument I’ve heard about God being evil is that he doesn’t stop bad things happening, and it’s a pretty feeble argument. What I believe in is free will, and as I believe in an afterlife, I don’t have the same take on sudden death as you do.

            What I find hard to understand is that you think we believe without any evidence.

  • Derry

    Only one reference to Prets historically inaccurate defence and that accidentally confirmed just why there is a drink called Bloody Mary. Of course the Victors write history and so Henry`s Church of England would justify murdering Mary Queen of Scots by blackening her character.
    I wonder how many bombs would have killed and maimed if Pret had chosen to name a bag of crisps after a Muslim icon?
    Yes the Roman Catholic Church does have some awful skeletons rattling about in many cupboards but does that mean that they should do nothing to right their past wrongs or point out current wrongs?
    Maybe it is just me but I used to believe that people moved to other countries in search of a better life. It seems that now they go to other countries to make them exactly like the one that they just left.
    The people on this site have peacefully removed an insult to what they belive in. No riots. No bloodshed.
    As for the horrific poverty and disease prevelant in the World today an awful of the complainers need to note that those problems are the collective responsibilty of Governments not religions. Having said that then yes of course when it suits them Governments do ask us all to go and die in the name of The God of your choice. It is always God and Country when it should be Government and money.

  • Zylpha Zogg

    Bloody Mary = tomato juice + vodka (no idea of the name’s origin)
    Bloody Barbara = tomato juice (after Barbara Castle introduced UK drink-drive laws)

    • I’ve always understood Bloody Mary to referto Bloody Mary – Queen Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and responsible for having many Protestants put to death: hence the title.

      The Virgin Mary = Mother of Jesus of Nazareth, but remained a virgin.

  • John Norman

    If your faith is so strong and your God is so all powerful, why is this an issue for you. Turn the other cheek you bible says. I find it much more of an insult to my intelligence that anyone can believe in a supernatural being who would take offence at a packet of crisps. Hasn’t God got better things to do with his time in this day and age? And as for the reference above to the “Church Militant”… it would be shameful if it wasn’t so pathetic.

    • I don’t think it was God complaining to Pret. ‘Turn the other cheek’ doesn’t mean you refrain from talking – all Christians are tasked as witnesses to God’s Word and we can’t do that by being mute. You’ll also find that you only need to ‘turn the other cheek’ if you’re being insulted. This was never Pret’s intention, and this is why when it was pointed out to them, they had no hesitation in withdrawing the crisps. It’s in no company’s interest to cause offence – even though that seems to be the only reason most of you are posting here today.

      Mock, name-call, redicule – what people resort to when they have no real argument to put forward.

      • Martin J

        Nick, I agree with you that a lot of the comments posted here by non-believers are out of order.. but not all of them. To suggest that there is no real argument here is a bit short-sighted and dare I say – ignorant.

        • It’s not ignorant Martin. For believers very few of the arguments put forward here hit the mark, as there’s no understanding behind them. Now if someone who had faith and had lost it had been posting…

  • TonescotlandTony

    Ridiculous, bullying behaviour, over an expression that has been in use for many years in the context of a drink. Pret have been weak, you have been stupid, irrelevant, and ridiculous. As another poster said, are you going to complain to every cocktail bar in the world, or was it just to get the publicity of attacking a well known brand? So transparent.

    • I’m sure the guy at Pret was quaking in his boots – terrified of the consequencies of not doing what the bully told him to do. Rediculous – yes, your interpretation of what happened is rediculours. The guy made a sensible business decision, and how can a ‘minority’ and ‘irrelevant’ Church – not even the established Church of England – bully anyone into doing anything? Get real.

      oh – and a CEO who can quickly make a decision, and put customers before profits and even thinks of giving the crisps to the homeless: I’d never describe them as weak or stupid – he has my respect.

  • Andre

    Guys good news, bullet dodged, just remembered that God doesnt exist, phewwwww

  • [...] the decision to withdraw the crisps, he wrote on the Protect the Pope site: “Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns [...]

  • Catholic John

    I was shocked to read that Pret A actually pulled their crisps because some felt it was offensive. This, in my opinion and in the opinion of many, given the responses above, is an embarrassing abuse of media power. As one writer mentions above, does this mean that every Pub in the UK should expect the same negative publicity by religious organizations unless they remove the Virgin Mary from their list? Oh my….what about the Bloody Mary….that sounds even more offensive.
    Quite honestly, the Catholic Church continues to lose followers because of things like this. Did you ever think that having a product in the market advertising our blessed mother could actually be a good thing? For all we know the crisps could actually taste heavenly. The point is, the name of our blessed mother was put on a bag of crisps….a product consumed almost as cultural staple by he British population. It was not put on an adult magazine.

    Finally, given the amount of people expressing their disagreement or offence to your offence, are you willing then to suggest that Pret A should return the product back to the shelf? Statistically speaking, the amount of negative responses you’ve received on this issue, just on this page, is likely to represents less that 1% of those that feel equally as disappointed with your opinion.
    Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts here.

    • Hi Catholic John, I enjoyed your replied and enjoyed it more than most of the comments here. I suspect the only reason there are so many negative comments here are because of the link on the BBC – just the mention of the word ‘Pope’ will attract all the people with a grudge with the Catholic Church are just the plain prejudiced: I’m surprised you think this is a representative selection of what people think. As you say, there’s a whole lot of ‘offended’ people here, yet the only thing that offends them is that a company like Pret actually cares that it may be causing unintended offence: it was obviously not their intention.

      I don’t think someone will lose their faith over this issue, whether they agree with the crisps being offensive or not. It’s a sign of a loving society where a company actually thinks it’s not worth causing offence over a bag of crips, and it certainly makes a lot business sense.

      People use take the name of Christ in vein and use swear words all the time, but we seem to be content not to print these on bags of crisps or sweet wrappers: are we just a hypocritical society, or one that see’s a difference between the spoken and printed word.

  • [...] upshot is this is taken from a Protect the Pope blog post today: Pret A Manger has contacted Protect the Pope to inform us that following yesterday’s post [...]

  • timmyconspiracy

    Sterling work guys. Jesus sandals next please, we can’t have our imaginary friends too closely associated with 70s fashion or people might think we’re out of touch with the zeitgeist.

    • But that’s the point – better than having no friend at all and no explanation for how and why the World came about (beyound a sponstaneous combustion), or what the meaning to life is.

      Of course, we don’t all need answers to these questions. Some people are happy with a physical / scientific explanation and have no philosophical curiosity.

      • Martin J

        I’m afraid that you’ve opened up a whole can of worms here Nick.

        Firstly, I’m an atheist… a very happy one, and I have many friends that help me get through difficult times. To suggest otherwise is insulting. Also, we do have an explanation of how the World came about, it’s a theory that has been developed and built on by scientists over decades and it’s a theory that’s withstood considerable scrutiny from the scientific and theist communities. It’s our best explanation given the available evidence. As for the why…. why does there need to be a why? What makes you think that the World was created for a purpose?

        Evolution and speciation by the way are demonstrable facts. Natural selection is our best explanation for diversity in species and it conforms to biological and proven observable facts.

  • Richard

    This religion of yours threatens mankind and scientific advancement EVERYWHERE.

    All you do is tell people how to live their life in the eyes of God. And has God actually come down from the heavens and told you personally or The Pope to preach to us all of how to live our lives? NO.

    I am a gay man from the UK and i am SICk and TIRED of how homosexuals are treated throughout the world because you all think we are blasphemous. Filthy. Dirty. Because the Bible says so. Because other stupid human beings believing in this religion have written a book about something they do NOT understand and want to control people. Islam is the same. All religions are the same. Their use is for control. Not for worship as you all want us to believe.

    What a PATHETIC complaint to make about a packet of crisps. CRISPS! What have Pret A Manger done to you personally? threaten the name of Mary? Did you know her? Did you ever meet her? Have you asked her if she is offended? NO.

    One day you will all be exposed as stupid control freaks. I hope we venture into Space soon, find other civilizations and then see them laugh at us for the pure idiosy of religion. You people hold our race back by 100′s of years because you tell us that God is unhappy. Homosexuals should die. Homosexuals should not marry. You should NOT use condoms to combat sexual diseases that harm us.


    • However, I’m grateful someone does have the time to make sure that the Virgin Mary isn’t rediculed. I worked helping the sick in Lourdes for several years and I have a great love for what the Virgin Mary has done there. I have my own personal experience of Our Lady in the same way I have of Jesus / God, because faith is about our personal – one-to-one relationship with God. It isn’t dependent on priests or the Church. They are there to guide us, but it’s not them we believe in. Otherwise it would be a house of cards.

      So when people say accuse Catholics of being brainwashed, of that belief is a deception, or that nobody truly believes, it says more about their ignorance than it does about their intellectual superiority.

      • Caryl

        If what you say about personal faith and not being dependent on priests etc. is true, Nick, then there wouldn’t be such need for media-baiting, as in this case. It would be sufficient for people to avoid things that offend them and live by example, showing the true power that a relationship with God can have on one’s life. I do not feel the need to explain or defend the work I am doing in order to be able to make a comment, nor did I belittle or nullify the work of the Church. However, I will note that my comment about disgusting junk food being given to homeless people is not a good deed but yet another media hook that is meant to justify this farcical situation.

        • Caryl, your opinion is that it was ‘media-baiting’, and it’s not mine.

          It’s a personal faith because we all have individual responsibility, which is not to say that I’m not part of a community. Everything I believe I have learnt from that community – from my parents, from teachers and priests, and from my friends and family. As part of a community, we have collective responsibilities, one being to be witnesses to our faith – and you can’t do that without sometimes standing up and defending it.

          I find it surprising that someone with such strong views about the nutritional value of crisps is not concerned when such a product is associated with Our Lady.

      • Martin J

        A tongue in cheek comment….I am unfortunately a bit of a pedantic grammarian. A number of your posts have included words such as ‘rediculed’ and ‘rediculous’. Please, for me…. ‘Ridiculed’, ‘Ridiculous’. Thanks for listening :)

        • It’s just being pedantic Martin. So I make spelling mistakes and typos. I have more valuable things to do with my time than proof read everything I post. I’m sorry if it offends you, but you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel in even mentioning this. I’ve come across this sort of comment in other forums about other things, and in this particular case, I think the things we are discussing are more important than spelling.

  • Lord McHuckleburg the Third

    lol, how the mighty have fallen. Once upon a time, religion had jurisdiction over society and was deeply ingrained in the psyche of the vast majority of citizens.

    Nowadays, crisps offend you.

    I’m glad you dummies took offense, because it demonstrates just how weak you’ve become.

    Face it, you’re obsolete. Your beliefs are baseless and have been outed as a sham. Your piety is mocked when it was once revered.

    well, I’m out

    • I think in the past Bloody Mary would have burnt people at the stake for such a derogatory use of the title given to Christ’s mother – and probably for a lot less. I think you’ve got your history the wrong way around…

      Our belief is based on historical accounts. You can argue they are made up but they are the only historical accounts we have from the period from that part of the world, and on top of the written accounts in the Gospels, we have the first hand accounts of the Apostles and the practises and beliefs that have been recorded and passed down from that time to now.

      I’d be interested whether you base your beliefs (or you may call it non-belief) on anything as substantive or as objective as that?

      • Martin J

        Sorry to say this, but your beliefs are not based on historical accounts, or at least not historically accurate accounts. How can they be when the bible has been edited and translated so many times and contradicts itself ad nauseum. This is why there are around 30,000 different derivations of Christianity.

        • They are as accurate as any other historical account written before modern times. They haven’t been translated so many times. The originals exist and newer, better translations are made as we better understand ancient Hebrew, but some of the gospels were originally written in Latin and Greek, not Hebrew. I can’t be bothered to look it up just at the moment, but there’s a wealth of information available on the net.

          I’ve also never come across a point of translation or any contradiction that is material. If you have examples, please give them. Happily, the original Catholic Church is still here after 2000 years, still governed by St Peter’s successor, and is still by far the biggest Christian Church – and has more members than any other faith: it’s the biggest religion in the World. You then add our close relationship to the Eastern Orthodox Churches who share our beliefs, the other 29,990 churches pale into insignificance. It’s the biggest argument for being a Catholic, so thanks for pointing it out Martin.

          And then you have to remember that with Judaism and Islam, all taking the Old Testament as one of our texts, all believing in the same, one God, you get a sense of just how abnormal it is not to believe. In the West it is seen as evolution / intellectual superiority, but the arrogance of the West has caused so much resentment and distrust in the rest of the World, and has resulted in so much evil. What’s dangerous is when people make up their own faith – whether it’s manipulating believers in an existing religion, doing a pick n mix with no guidance at all, or just setting up your own Church – something that Protestants do: the 29,900 churches you speak of are all Protestant.

          Happily we also have a Pope which means we don’t have the terrible infighting and blasphemies happening within Islam at the moment.

          I saw today that you now have your own church you can attend –

          ..but you haven’t answered the question Martin: what do you base your non-beliefs on?

  • Damian

    Defence Exhibit A:

    From Wikipedia:

    The name “Bloody Mary” is associated with a number of historical figures—particularly Queen Mary I of England (whose 16th-century persecution of Protestants earned her the nickname)—and fictional women from folklore. Some drink aficionados believe the inspiration for the name was Hollywood star Mary Pickford. Others trace the name to a waitress named Mary who worked at a Chicago bar called the Bucket of Blood.

    Defence Exhibit B:

    If a cocktail has no alcohol in it is referred to as a Virgin cocktail.

    Prosecution Exhibit A:

    Roman Catholics tell uneducated Africans that god does not allow them to wear condoms so they don’t (presumably because of fear of not getting into heaven) and therefore the cases of Aids (and deaths) in Africa is far higher than it should.

    The spread of Aids in Africa VS the naming of a packet of crisps?????

    How can you morons be taken seriously…and then you wonder why religion is dying???

    • The Church tells people not to have sex outside marriage. Aids wouldn’t spread if people didn’t sleep around. Nobody is telling people to have sex outside marriage without a condom. You have to be a moron not to link the act of sex to the spread of aids, and only focus on the condom.

      • Martin J

        - AIDS kills people.
        - If your God existed he wouldn’t let it happen.
        - The condom is a way of curtailing the spread of AIDS.
        - The Catholic Church actively discourages the use of condoms.
        - I’m lost for words.

        • You have a very simplistic view of God. You talk about your understanding of Him, not mine. You believe if there was a God, we would still be in the Garden of Eden, with no illness, no sadness, no desasters, no war or murder, and logically – no death. The World isn’t like that, so if we shared your view of God, how could we possibly believe? We’re not stupid! Try and understand. Read Genesis and about the Fall.

          As an atheist, you don’t believe in Good or Evil. You are content with how the World is – with disease, natural disasters etc. – it is just the way it is. Why don’t you believe we have to come to reasoned conclusions to justify our beliefs too?

          The Catholic Church tells people not to sleep around – doesn’t this stop the spread of AIDS?
          I’m lost for words that you read my previous reply and still didn’t grasp the point I was making. It would be the height of hypocracy for an African being unfaithful to his wife not wearing a condom to ‘follow the church teachings’. The truth is they don’t wear condoms because they prefer sex without them. What’s the evidence? Well, look around you – in the UK we woulldn’t need hundreds of thousands of abortions if everybody used condoms.

  • Beedlum Bose

    What a self-righteous, humourless lot you are. What’s next? Hot Cross Buns??

  • BB

    Do you REALLY think God (or indeed Mary for that matter) cares about the name of a bag of crisps?…. REALLY?…. It never ceases to amaze me how much time and energy is spent protecting the trappings and symbolism of religion as opposed to its underlying message. Get a grip. The world would be such a better place if people didn’t go out hunting offence to take. There is a whole world of famine, disease and poverty out there to solve and yet the religious zealots see fit to direct their energies at threatening Danish newspapers, and objecting to tomato flavoured crisps. Well done. No doubt God is very grateful.

    • The first thing to do before accusing me and other Catholics of being religious zealots is to differentiate between threats made to Danish newspapers about cartoons depicting the Prohphet Mohamad – that can’t possibly have come from Christians, from the non-threatening protestat against the name of a bag of crisps from Christians. Than your comments might seem considered.

      I agree – a bag of crips isn’t that important, and I’m sure God is not offended. I’m offended however at having to live in a country where people think it is acceptable to call a bag of crips after the Mother of God. If you want to be offensive against Catholics, there are so many other opportunities and, for a moment, do you really think Pret wanted to offend Christians? Obviously not and it’s obvious the disapointment that a bag of crips can’t continue to be offensive. People seem to care more about whether pork is mixed up with beef than people’s actual beliefs.

      You seem offended enough to protest here – I’m still not sure about what, but take a moment to see why others may feel offended: why should you be the only person in the world allowed to take time off from ‘saving the starving millions’ to express your views about something?

      • Martin J

        If the Catholic Church was that interested in saving the starving millions, imagine what good could be done with all of the money wrapped up in the Vatican. Bill Gates is an atheist, he on his own does more for the starving millions than the Catholic Church does, and what’s more they don’t have to sit through a sermon.

        • Just a sign of your ignorance about what the Church does, in its missions, in its charities, in virtually every country in the world. If you added it all up it far outweighs anything the Vatican has. You’re caught up in urban myths.

          Bill Gates justs visits the poor – missionaries live amongst them and live their lives.

        • I’m also guessing Bill Gates hasn’t taken a vow of poverty.

          If you want an example of someone who lives in all humility, the Pope is a perfect example.

  • [...] the decision to withdraw the crisps, he wrote on the Protect the Pope site: “Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns [...]

    Will you be demonstrating outside every establishment that serves the drink these crisps were named after?
    I thought not.

    • Will you be standing outside every Catholic church expressing your right to offend people? As other people have said, is the name of a bag of crisps that important to you? Pret had no intention of offending people. I don’t think bags of crisps have become the new billboard for freedom of speech.

      There’s no threat to democracy here. Just an expression that people should try and respect other. I can think of countless things you could name a bag of crisps that would be offensive to race, sex, you name it, (and at one time it would have been ok to add the word ‘religion; to that list), and nobody would bat an eyelid at the decision not to use them.

      • Martin J

        ‘There’s no threat to democracy here. Just an expression that people should try and respect other’

        How about the Catholic Church respecting homosexuals by not standing in the way of their marital rights?
        How about the Catholic Church respecting peoples right to abortion?
        How about the Catholic Church respecting a child’s right to form their own beliefs?

        I could go on.

        • - They already have equal rights. Civil Partnerships are identical to marriage in all but name.
          - How about the right of the unborn child?
          - We respect that, as I’ve expressed elsewhere.

          You could go on, but it would be pointless.

  • Barry Geddis

    The BBC has a recipe for Virgin Mary on its food website. Will you be campaigning for its removal?

    • I’ve no idea what the people here will be doing, but I imagine not, because there are several differences, not least that the protest wasn’t against people’s freedom to say or write what they like: it was over the branding of a crisp flavour.

      If somebody was selling the Virgin Mary cocktail in a bottle, then of course there would be a protest, but hopefully there’s been enough media coverage to make this unlikely ever to happen.

  • G London

    Another initiative that sees a group supposedly standing up for the Catholic faith actually damage its reputation – when will Christian faith defenders learn? How about you stop being so self-centred in your taking offense and telling people what they cannot do and show you are offended by the actually repugnant, like doing something about the 870 million people that go hungry every day in our world (rather than being preoccupied by a crisp brand name).

  • Bill Jowett

    Once again an extremist minority religion imposes its views on the majority. That said, the net result is to make the catholic church look silly and “Protect The Pope” (from what?) look totally ridiculous.

    • Bill Jowett – how is the world’s largest religion a minority religion, and extremist in what way? What do you care about the Virgin Mary – isn’t that the province of Christians and Muslims who believe her to be the Mother of God?

      Just because you don’t agree with it, doesn’t make it extremist.

      Nick, London

  • How could Pret a Manger do such a stupid thing? Do they really need defending? A sign of the times. The number of people who have posted here just to show up their ignorance about the Catholic faith and to make their mean-spirited and prejudiced comments just proves the point.

    I came to the site hoping to find enlightened comments after seeing the link on the BBC, and am therefore disapointed and annoyed at the childish comments – and from other demoninations too. Of course everybody knows who the Virgin Mary is – there is only one. Call your cocktails whatever you like, but a big brand should know better.


  • Jason Monroe

    I do hope that the general sentiment amongst the majority of commenters is taken on board rather than dismissed as being entirely disrespectful attacks. Unfortunately, your actions, and the press coverage, have done the Church more harm than good, regardless of your good intentions.

    • You really think that as Catholics, we should listen to the prejudiced views of most of the posters here than follow our own conscience?

      I would find it very surprising that this incident will have changed the views of anyone. Those who are disposed against the Church will see this as justifying their prejudices, and those who love Our Lady will be pleased at the very positive outcome Deacon Nick has acheived so quickly and efficiently.

  • Karla

    I do not use facebook often but after I complained to Pret a manger, and got a nice response back from them saying they had removed the crisps, got a bunch of rude messages from people opposed to my comment

  • Bain Wellington

    Thank you, Deacon Nick, for all your work. May the Blessed Virgin protect you from all harm.

  • [...] the decision to withdraw the crisps, he wrote on the Protect the Pope site: “Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns [...]

  • Caryl

    Being teetotal, I have drunk Virgin Mary’s (Bloody Mary no vodka) on 3 continents, and reveled in their deliciousness. One can google the drink to see how prevalent it is in countries all over the world. So what this site has done has made it seem as though we Catholics are ridiculous and focused solely on baiting the public with attention-getting headlines. I am sure there was a good intention there, Deacon, but in a world suffering untold horrors I would have thought that the Pope can take care of himself and believers should praise the Lord through doing good deeds such as feeding the homeless (and not unwanted high fat crisps either).

    • Well, your final point sort of self defeats your argument as the homeless were fed as a result of this protest. What are you doing to solve the untold horros of the world? Every member of the Catholic Church has a duty to defend the Pope as he is our spiritual leader and we love him. Why shouldn’t we take a moment of our time to defend him… and Our Lady whilst we are about it.

      The Catholic Church does a tremendous amount for the poor and raising funds for the starving, living and working with the – and as a Catholic, I’m surprised you are ignorant of this. There’s more to being a Catholic than having been baptised one.

      • Martin J

        ‘The homeless were fed as a result of this protest’. Oh dear. Really? You make it sound so grand. A few homeless people will have benefited from having a packet of unhealthy crisps… that’ll keep them going for a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, the Vatican really could help the homeless in an enormous way. The Vatican owns roughly 177 million acreage of various lands throughout the globe…. now, what could they do with that land that would represent a real force for good?

        A lot of people are angry about some of the decisions that the Pope has made, and as a result they don’t feel that he should be defended. Please try to understand this.

  • Simon

    It may to some seem like a minor issue but yes calling crisps: ‘Virgin Mary’ is offensive. Positive step that the manufacturer’s listened and has withdrawn them. We do need to start speaking out and be prepared for the onslaught of negative comments such as some of those above. It really is amazing that when we assert our equal right to complain there is so much anger and abuse. The worst possible thing to do would be to simply roll over and give in. We need to continue to speak out. For many years the church as been far too silent. I pray for all those that deny the existanve of God and pray that the Holy Spirit will touch them and heal their anger and spiritual sickness.

  • Bob

    What a pathetic waste of time. Crisps? Really? Nothing more important to rail against? Another nail in the coffin for religion (a good thing). Keep digging.

  • John Dare

    A few notes for the new boys and girls:

    1. This site is run by Deacon Nick, DN
    2. Nothing gets posted till DN has ‘moderated’ it.
    3. If you read other threads you’ll find that many contributors are of the embattled minority school of religion. They have not forgotten the burnings and persecutions of 400 years ago.
    4. From what I’ve seen DN is very keen that they should continue to see themselves as embattled
    5. Like many people they think they’re ‘right’


    Given points 1-5 above, why do you think the record 130 posts so far have been posted, despited one man running the show.


    In the eyes of DN and his faithful flock, your abuse validates everything they believe.

    • Which makes me wonder why John Dare you visit the site and read the posts, if it’s just what the Deacon wants? Surely if would be better just to ignore it, because as far as I can see, it was set up for and is directed at Catholics, because of all the abuse, prejudice and misinformation we are subjected to – as demonstrated by the posts in this thread. Have a read of the ‘About’ page.

      • John Dare

        Morning Nick,

        Points 1-3 and 5 are facts, and 4 is my opinion, though I have no nay sayers on that so far.

        Why do I visit, good point, I often wonder myself. I suspect you’re reading more [or less] into the post than is actually there.

        • Hi John, yes – I can’t possibly know your motives and I’m sure you are very welcome here. I think the whole point about opinions is that you think they are the right ones. Doesn’t mean they can’t change or develop, and equally it doesn’t mean we all live up to our ideals and never fail in them.

  • [...] сообщество через свой ресурс Protect The Pope выразило руководству сети закусочных благодарность за [...]

  • D Newman

    Well done, Deacon Nick.

    I am prepared to believe the company’s good intentions and that it was guilty of an unfortunate misjudgment, so a gentle and proportionate request to alter the name under which they marketed their crisps was entirely in order. Their change of heart was admirable.

  • [...] the Pope issued a statement on its website thanking Pret A Manger for the quick response: “Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger [...]

  • [...] t'deecishun to withdraw t'crisps, he wrote on t'Protect t'Pope site: “Clif' Schlee and Pret A Mang'r deserve air unreservd thanks fer a'listnin to air concerns [...]

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