Sunday, October 29, 2006

GPs to quiz children on sex

Background briefing.

Children visiting their GPs with minor ailments could be closely questioned about their sex life. The measures are proposed in draft guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice). Doctors will be expected to spend 15-20 minutes inquiring into the sex-life of each teenager, even if the teenager comes in for an ailment such as a sore throat. Dr Trevor Stammers, honorary senior tutor at St George's Medical School in London and a trustee of the Family Education Trust, says: ''Guidance such as this will compound the growing sexualisation of very young teenagers'. [Sunday Telegraph, NACF News]

See the Sunday Telegraph story here.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Post Abortion Trauma

Background briefing. The official recognition of the negative side-effects of abortion on women is always fiercely resisted by pro-abortionists.

From SPUC.
A group of physicians in the UK have drawn attention to research suggesting that abortion can increase the risk of mental problems in women. In a letter to today's Times newspaper, the 15 doctors write that women should be warned about the psychological problems of abortion, and they call on the bodies which regulate obstetricians, gynaecologists and psychiatrists to change their guidance. The research which they cite was published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in January. [The Times, 27 October] The newspaper also carried an article about Ms Sue Hulbert who suffered from long-term depression after an abortion. She said: "I had never suffered from any mental illness before and I had never been depressed and, really, I am the last person who you would expect to react like this. But I was haunted by my abortion and it robbed me of all my confidence." Ms Hulbert was helped by British Victims of Abortion. [The Times, 27 October]


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Education and Inspection Bill - victories

Background briefing.

Latest update: Lord Baker's amendment defeated. See the Universe report here.

Members of the British House of Lords have rejected by 173 votes to 85 an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill which would have made personal, social and health education in schools a statutory part of the national curriculum. The change was backed by many children's charities. [Community Care 25 October]

The government has abandoned plans to force faith schools to admit 25% of their pupils from outside their religion. Lord Baker, the former Conservative Minister for Education, still intends to introduce an amendment to the Bill to that effect. See the BBC story.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

BBC admits bias

Background briefing. See also update.

Update: The Vatican has decided to 'filter' requests from the BBC in the light of the Sex Crimes and the Vatican programme. The Catholic Herald reports that 'all future requests from the BBC and independent television companies for Vatican press accreditation will now be scrutinised carefully.' Withholding press accreditation is one of the few ways in which the Vatican can directly punish specific journalists and organisations.

BBC claims the leaked 'Impartiality Seminar' was intended to be public, and was broadcast on the web. Can we see it again, then, Sue Lawley?

The BBC's new Robin Hood series leaves out Friar Tuck and refers to Maid Marian simply as 'Marian'. The BBC's Christianophobia strikes again.

Thanks to Valle Adurni for the reference to this story.

Key quote: '[At an 'impartiality' summit] executives were given a fictitious scenario in which they were asked to make a judgment. In the illustration, Jewish comedian Sasha Baron Cohen would participate in a studio program in which guests were allowed to symbolically throw in a garbage bin things they hated. What would you do, the executives were asked, if Cohen decided to throw kosher food, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bible and the Quran in the trash. Everything would be allowed, the executives said, except for the Quran, for fear of offending the British Muslim community.'

For the full story, see here for a US source, here for the Daily Mail.


Monday, October 23, 2006

EU funding for coercive population control

Current status: pro-life ammendments defeated. See update.

From SPUC: This Thursday (26th October) Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote on amendments to the European Union (EU) budget for 2007, specifically three amendments seeking to prevent any EU funds going to organisations, governments or programmes that are implicated in so-called 'family planning' programmes where coercion has been used in contravention of human rights.

Kathy Sinnott MEP writes: "At present the EU development funds have been given to governments and organisations for projects that include coercive abortion, forced sterilisation and infanticide...Governments such as those in China and Vietnam are currently heavily involved in such practices and international organisations have as yet failed to take proper action to avoid providing them financial support. Additionally there are aid projects in other countries that include one or more of these practices...These amendments will not lead to an end of diplomatic negotiations with any country or affect organisations or humanitarian aid which are not implicated in these human rights abuses."

Updates: The European parliament yesterday rejected three amendments to the European Union budget which would have removed funding from government and organisations' programmes which include coercive abortion, involuntary sterilisation and infanticide. Shortly afterwards, the parliament condemned China for allegedly shooting refugees. Ms Kathy Sinnott, MEP for Ireland south, welcomed the condemnation but said: "Why do Tibetans try to escape from China? Because of these very barbaric practices that in addition to the religious and political persecution blights the life of all the minorities and conquered peoples within the territory China now claims to rule." She asked the European commission what part EU aid was playing in that suffering. [Ms Sinnott's office, 26 October]


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Liberal Democrats and Ruth Kelly

Current status: update - Lorely Burt 'clarifies' her remarks.

A Liberal Democrat spokeswoman has called upon Ruth KellySecretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, to reign solely because of her Catholic faith.

Key quote: Lorely Burt, Lib Dem equality spokeswoman, said: "We had always feared Ruth Kelly's personal beliefs would make her unsuitable to be a champion of gay rights. Unfortunately these fears have become reality and she should now stand down."

See the full Telegraph report.

This amazing demand -- discrimination on the basis of religion, in order to save a law which outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation -- neatly sums up the debate on the Sexual Orientation Regulations. (On these, see here.)

Please send messages of support to Ms Kelly.
And protests to Lorely Burt and Lib Dem leader, Sir Menzies Campbell.

You can use the parliament email form for each of them, see here.

Update: Lorely Burt writes a letter to the Catholic Herald.
Saying the CH report on her remarks weas 'a complete distortion of my position', she goes on: 'My disquiet with Ruth Kelly concerns not her beliefs but her actions. They are based on reports that she has actively delayed partliamentary consideration of regulations to extend the same protection already granted to religious groups, Catholics included, to those of different sexual orientations.'

What Burt actually said (quoted in the Telegraph): "We had always feared that Ruth Kelly's personal beliefs would make her unsuitable to be a champion of gay rights. Unfortunately these fears have become reality and she should now stand down."

Burt is clearly embarassed by the reaction to her comments.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Education and Inspection Bill

Current status: action, please: contact MPs and Peers.
See here for a good article by Archbishop Nichols in the Telegraph.

Daily Telegraph report

Catholic Education Service press release condemning the Bill

From CFNews:
The Education and Inspection Bill reaches its Third reading in the Lords on October 30th. That is the very last chance of influencing its contents. It came from the Commons religiously neutral but has been so amended in the unelected chamber that it is now a very grave attack on Catholic schools. Very few MPs are aware of its changes. The Government has gone back on the assurances it had given through Lord Adonis.

The amended Bill states that:

(a) Local authorities will decide on the Catholic/non Catholic admission ratio in conformity with their perceived requirement of social cohesion.
(b) This will be subject to appeal to the Government in certain circumstances
(c) Admission policies will be looked at again and parental first choice will not receive preference.
(d) New statements made this week suggest that there will be new controls over what is taught and by whom in socially sensitive areas
(e) This will apply to all new schools.
(f) There will be a revised inspection code.

There is no suggestion that our existing schools will radically alter but it is manifestly unfair, costly and is an insult to the Catholics of this country. Consider the impact on families, parishes and the schools you know. The bishops have been misled and pushed aside so it is now down to us the laity to do what we can. What can we do? We can raise our voices!

1 Write, phone (020 7219 3000) , or email your MP. If conservative or Lib Dem ask him/her to ask their party not to support this. If Labour, to withdraw the amendment itself which was only first outlined by Lord Adonis in his speech on 17/01/06

2 Write to the Prime Minster at Parliament, SW1A 1AA

3 Write to your local paper or use any other media contact you have

4 Talk to your parish priest of teachers you know

5 Talk or write to local county councillors

6 Pray [CFNews]


Dossier on Advent Group

The dissident support group for ex-priests and nuns, Advent Group ('working for a renewed priesthood'), was allowed to use St Chad's Cathedral for its AGM, Saturday 11th November 2006.

Advent's dissent is clearly visible from its website.

1) One of the aims of ADVENT

is to "work for change in the Church and its ministry"

2) Its members write articles for the dissenting "Catholics for a Changing Church" website ("Celibacy, the Eucharist and the People of God")

For a flavour of this article, posted on the Advent site: "Would it not be better to have a closer look at our historical evolution and, instead of freezing the frame in the late Middle Ages, allow a different model of church to emerge? This would be to cultivate a vision for the future and perhaps apply in this context an expanded form of Paul’s dictum in Galatians: “There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, cleric and lay: for you are all one person in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28)." (Italics in original.) This is clearly dissents from the recently reiterated teahing of the Church on homosexuality in the priesthood.

3) The ADVENT website states that

"We are regularly out on the web. When we find a great site we list it here for you to enjoy."

Below are what ADVENT thinks are "great sites"!!

4) This links to various

"Women Priests" sites

5) And other also other "Church Renewal Groups"

i.e. dissident groups, such as Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, We Are Church, Catholics for a Changing Church, etc.

Relevant here is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 'The Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person', 1986:

(See here for the full text.)

17: 'All support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and the to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous...'


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gay Police Association

Current status: updates
Spokesman apologises
ASA uphold complaint
Private prosecution planned: see update.
CPS refuse to prosecure

GPA Apololgy

GPA spokesman Kevin Boyle, in an interview on Christian radio statioin Premier Radio, said he found it 'devastating' that Christians were offended, and would 'obviously offer apologies'.
[Catholic Herald]

NB contrary to the Catholic Herald headline, this was not an apology from the 'Police'. Boyle's apology is welcome, but the advert was clearly intended to be controversial, as the GPA admitted at the time; they also admitted that they decided against a parallel advert featuring the Koran.

Christian Concern for Our Nation email: 'Many of you may have heard about or seen the Gay Police Association's advert, published in the Independent on 29 June, which features a picture of the Bible next to a pool of blood beneath the title 'In the name of the father'. Many of you have asked for further information on what to do. We hope this email and its attachments will be of assistance to you. The advert is about homophobic violence and impliedly accuses Christians of bearing the responsibility for an alleged 74% increase in homophobic 'incidents' this year. Clearly this is a hurtful, antagonistic, and above all, false, claim to be made in a national newspaper. We would urge everyone who feels strongly about this issue to look at the advert and then respond to one or all of the following organisations: (1) Independent Police Complaints Commission; (2) The Advertising Standards Authority; (3) The Press Complaints Commission; and (4) The Independent Newspaper. Following an extremely high number of complaints, the police investigation into this issue has been transferred to Holborn Police Station. All metropolitan police stations have been told not to open any further files relating to the advert. This means that any new complaints will not be recorded on a new file, they will be forwarded to the Holborn officers who are handling the case. All complaints are still being recorded so it gives the police an extremely useful indicator of the strength of feeling on this issue simply by the number of complaints being made. The complaint is currently being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who will decide whether there is a case to answer. One of the CPS's criteria for deciding whether to prosecute, is whether it is in 'the public interest'. Therefore the more members of the public who feel strongly about the advert who actually contact the police, the more likely the CPS will be aware of the public interest in prosecuting. []user posted image


The Crown Prosecution Service

has announced that they had decided not to prosecute the Gay Police Association for any offence in relation to the publication of the advert in late June, depicting the Bible beside a pool of blood and accusing Christians of causing a 74% rise in incidents of violence against homosexuals. The following press release from the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship illustrates that it is a decision that is open to strong criticism. 'Just hours after announcing their decision not to prosecute the Gay Police Association for its controversial anti-Christian advert, placed in the Independent Newspaper, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Metropolitan Police have come under fire for alleged double-standards. After taking almost 3 months to come to a decision, the CPS announced that there was 'insufficient evidence' to prosecute the Gay Police Association. The news has surprised many of the 50,000 organisations and individuals who formally registered complaints with the police after the advert, accusing Christians of causing a 74% increase in violence towards homosexuals in 2005, was placed in the Diversity section of The Independent newspaper in June of this year. Andrea Minichiello Williams, Public Policy Officer of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF), commented 'what we find hard to understand is the appearance of discrimination against Christians by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). In this case, the CPS has decided that despite thousands of complaints that the advert was misleading and insulting to Christianity and Christians, they will not prosecute. But what further evidence of the advert being an 'insulting' publication causing 'harassment, alarm or distress' which is religiously aggravated contrary to section 31 Crime and Disorder Order Act 1998 to Christians could be needed? The decision does not sit well with other prosecutions which the CPS has decided to pursue. In 2003 the CPS said that the evidence of a small group of homosexual protestors was sufficient to prosecute a Christian preacher who displayed a sign saying 'Stop homosexuality, Stop immorality. Jesus is Lord'. The CPS considered the small number of complaints sufficient to make out the test that the sign was 'insulting'. The policy is confused and is leading the police and the CPS to apply double standards'. Thomas Cordrey, a Public Policy Analyst at LCF, added 'At a time when the national media are picking up on the apparent Christianophobia prevalent in the behaviour of the police and other public bodies, it seems strange that once again the police and CPS have had such little regard for the views and opinions of Christians who make up such a sizable proportion of the population. Only recently Stephen Green was arrested for peacefully handing out Christian tracts which set out the Bible's teaching on practising homosexuality, whilst Muslim extremists are left to shout intimidatory hate abuse at Catholics with no sanction. In a world of competing rights and confused messages such behaviour by public authorities makes it increasingly hard for organisations like the Met to deny the accusations that they are Christianophobic'. It is astonishing that despite the LCF's formal letter of complaint on this matter we have never received a formal written acknowledgement or reply. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have not yet issued their response on this matter If you are concerned about the Crown Prosecution decision and want to take it further please write to the Director of Public Prosecutions who is the head of the CPS. It would be good to ask about policy and how these decisions are made as everything seems to be very unclear. You can send an email to:

ASA decision

In light of 553 complaints, the ASA investigated the GPA under five headings, and upheld complaints under three of them. Thus:
1. Decency (suggestion that Christianity is homophobic): updeld
2. Decency (image of the Bible next to a pool of blood): not upheld
3. Violence and anti-social behaviour (incitement of violence against Christians): not upheld
4. Truthfulness (suggestion that the 'homophobic incidents' were violent): upheld
5. Substantiation (of the cited statistics): upheld.

The ASA's 'action':
"We told the GPA to ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause undue offence and also reminded them that they should ensure the use of imagery did not send misleading messages to consumers. We asked them to ensure any statistics could be substantiated and reminded them to show supporting data to the ASA upon request. "

For the full ASA report, see here.
For a BBC report, see here.

Private prosecution planned

The Reverend George Hargreaves, has made an application to the Director of Public Prosecutions (attached to this e-mail) to launch a private prosecution in the case. Mr Hargreaves, a member of the Metropolitan Police Service's Safer Neighbourhoods All Faith Forum Steering Group, and the Chair of the Metropolitan Police Service's Stop and Search Community Consultative Committee, has said that "I believe there is a case to answer in this matter, and that there is sufficient evidence to prove the necessary legal test set out in the Public Order Act. I also believe that it is not in the public interest for this case to be dropped - to do so would give the impression that Police officers are above the law". His views are echoed by many who cannot reconcile the decision by the CPS not to prosecute in this case, compared with the decision to prosecute Christians in situations where the evidence appeared to be less substantial.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Permanent vegetative State

Background briefing: the latest addition to a growing list of cases of so called 'Permanent vegetative State' patients recovering.

A boy who had been diagnosed as being in a so-called permanent vegetative state (PVS) has regained consciousness and is continuing to recover. Devon Rivers collapsed and became comatose 22 months ago and doctors considered his case hopeless. His mother, Carla Rivers, continued to visit and care for him and, in August 2006, he began to show signs of consciousness. Devon is to receive occupational therapy to recover motor skills, and is able to play with his siblings. A 1996 study published by the British Medical Journal found that 43% of PVS patients are wrongly diagnosed. [LifeSite, SPUC]


Thursday, October 12, 2006

IVF for single mothers

Background briefing

IVF treatment given to women wanting to become mothers without a partner has more than doubled in the last five years. Figures revealed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) also reveal that since 2001, the number of IVF cycles given to lesbian couples has risen fourfold. The Government intends to scrap the section of the HFEA Act 1990, which requires the need for a father because of fears over discrimination. [Sunday Telegraph, SPUC]


Monday, October 09, 2006

Gordon Brown

Current status: background briefing.

In a letter to this week's Catholic Herald, Anthony Ozimic, political secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), writes : 'Sir - Mary Kenny (Comment, September 29) claims - without citing any evidence - that: 'On other social issues such as gay rights or abortion, [Gordon Brown] may not approve, privately, but he consigns the matter to the personal conscience of each individual.' Hardly. In 1990, Mr Brown voted no fewer than 16 times with the pro-abortion lobby: three times for abortion up to birth, including for disabled babies; twice for abortion on demand in early pregnancy; once each to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, for selective foeticide in multiple pregnancies, to facilitate RU486 and to suppress information about abortions on disabled babies; and seven times for other pro-abortion positions. As Chancellor, Mr Brown cut the rate of VAT on morning-after pills from 17.5% to 5%; and launched the International Finance Facility to raise money for the Millennium Development Goals, which the British government interprets as including a universal human right to abortion on demand. Prior to their marriage, Mr Brown's PR consultant wife Sarah did marketing for EMILY's List, which raises funds for female Labour candidates who support (among other things) abortion on demand. Regarding the unborn outside the womb, Mr Brown voted five times in 1990 to promote destructive embryo experimentation, and has recently backed the UK Stem Cell Initiative which funds embryo killing. The last thing Catholics need, already surrounded by the culture of death, is to be told that politicians who support the destruction of the unborn at every available opportunity are 'personally opposed' to it'. [Catholic Herald]


Anglican attack on 'Multi-faith' policies

Current status: background briefing.

The Church of England has launched an astonishing attack on the Government's drive to turn Britain into a multi-faith society. In a wide-ranging condemnation of policy, it says that the attempt to make minority 'faith' communities more integrated has backfired, leaving society 'more separated than ever before'. The criticisms are made in a confidential Church document, leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, that challenges the 'widespread description' of Britain as a multi-faith society and even calls for the term 'multi-faith' to be reconsidered. The document, Cohesion and Integration - a Briefing Note for the House (of Bishops), claims that divisions between communities have been deepened by the Government's 'schizophrenic' approach to tackling multiculturalism. While trying to encourage interfaith relations, it has actually given 'privileged attention' to the Islamic faith and Muslim communities. Written by Guy Wilkinson, the interfaith adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, the paper says that the Church of England has been sidelined. Instead, 'preferential' treatment has been afforded to the Muslim community despite the fact that it makes up only three per cent of the population. Britain remains overwhelmingly a Christian country at heart and moves to label it as a multi-faith society suggest a hidden agenda, it says. [Sunday Telegraph]

For the full text of the Sunday Telegraph article, see here.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

BBC Panorama 'Sex Crimes and the Vatican'

Update: text of responses from bishops - see end of post.

Current status:
official and unofficial protests are continuing; see end of post. For some BBC responses, see here.

Protest at BBC 'attack' on Pope

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
(Filed: 02/10/2006)

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales is to make a formal complaint to the BBC over a documentary which accused the Pope of covering up child abuse by priests.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is to protest to Mark Thompson, the corporation's director general, about last night's "unwarranted" and "deeply prejudiced" BBC1 Panorama programme.

The documentary, called Sex Crimes and the Vatican, purported to reveal how in 2001 the future pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued "a secret Vatican edict" to instruct the world's Catholic bishops to put the interests of the Church before the safety of children.

The programme said that by issuing the document the cardinal was advising bishops to encourage alleged victims, the accused and any witnesses to talk to them about the allegations rather than report them to the civil authorities.

It described the document as an updated version of the "notorious" 1962 Vatican instruction Crimen Sollicitationis – the Crime of Solicitation – which, it claimed, laid down the rules for covering up sexual scandal.

The English and Welsh bishops were denied a preview film by the BBC because the Vatican had refused to co-operate in the making of it.

But a leaked copy was sent to the bishops in Spain, where they were on retreat last week, and they watched it together on Saturday evening and decided that the cardinal should protest vigorously. A statement issued yesterday by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, revealed the extent of their anger.

He said that as a public service broadcaster, the BBC should be "ashamed of the standard of the journalism used to create this unwarranted attack on Pope Benedict XVI".

The archbishop said that viewers would recognise "only too well the sensational tactics and misleading editing of the programme, which uses old footage and undated interviews.

They will know that aspects of the programme amount to a deeply prejudiced attack on a revered world religious leader."

Archbishop Nichols, the chairman of the Catholic office for the protection of children and vulnerable adults, described the evil of child abuse depicted in the documentary as "horrific and deeply distressing".

But he said that the thrust of the programme was "false and entirely misleading" because it misrepresented two Vatican documents.

"The first document, issued in 1962, is not directly concerned with child abuse at all but with the misuse of the confessional," he said.

"The programme confuses the misuse of the confessional and the immoral attempts by a priest to silence his victim.

"The second document, issued in 2001, clarified the law of the Church, ensuring that the Vatican is informed of every case of child abuse and that each case is dealt with properly."

He continued: "This document does not hinder the investigation by civil authorities of allegations of child abuse, nor is it a method of cover-up, as the programme persistently claims. In fact it is a measure of the seriousness with which the Vatican views these offences."

The row is the latest in a series of clashes between the Catholic Church and the BBC.

In October 2003 the bishops made a similar high-level complaint when the BBC attacked Pope John Paul II in a Panorama special called Sex and the Holy City.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation stood by the Panorama programme and invited viewers to make up their own minds about it. [Telegraph]

Bishops' protest to BBC In a press statement issued on Monday, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, chair of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, says in response to the BBC's broadcast of Panorama's programme Sex crimes and the Vatican on Sunday, 1 October, 'There are two strands to the Panorama programme ´Sex crimes and the Vatican.` The first is a graphic and explicit account of the evil of child abuse and the personal damage it causes to its victims. This is horrific and deeply distressing. Those abused as children have been grievously offended. This is especially so when the abuser is a priest. The film is a reminder to everyone of the need to work ceaselessly in the protection of children and in response to the needs of victims. The Catholic Church in England and Wales is doing so, with transparency and care, and, in every case, cooperating fully and immediately with public authorities. The second strand of the programme is an attack on the Vatican and specifically on Pope Benedict. This aspect of the programme is false and entirely misleading. It is false because it misrepresents two Vatican documents and uses them quite misleadingly in order to connect the horrors of child abuse to the person of the Pope. The first document, issued in 1962, is not directly concerned with child abuse at all, but with the misuse of the confessional. This has always been a most serious crime in Church law. The programme confuses the misuse of the confessional and the immoral attempts by a priest to silence his victim. The second document, issued in 2001, clarified the law of the Church, ensuring that the Vatican is informed of every case of child abuse and that each case is dealt with properly. This document does not hinder the investigation by civil authorities of allegations of child abuse, nor is it a method of cover-up, as the programme persistently claims. In fact it is a measure of the seriousness with which the Vatican views these offences. Since 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger, when Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, took many steps to apply the law of the Church to allegations and offences of child abuse with absolute thoroughness and scruple. The Panorama programme makes clear the suffering of those abused in their childhood. But as a public service broadcaster, the BBC should be ashamed of the standard of the journalism used to create this unwarranted attack on Pope Benedict. Viewers will recognise only too well the sensational tactics and misleading editing of the programme, which uses old footage and undated interviews. They will know that aspects of the programme amount to a deeply prejudiced attack on a revered world religious leader. It will further undermine public confidence in ´Panorama´. This statement is endorsed by the Bishops of England and Wales, and Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, as President of the Bishops´ Conference, is writing to the Director General of the BBC to protest about this programme. This is the text of the letter sent by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, to the Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson.

'Dear Mr Thompson, In May 2005 I wrote to congratulate the BBC on its coverage of the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

It is with deep disappointment that I now write to express the enormous distress and alarm of the Catholic community at your decision to broadcast Sex crimes and the Vatican. No-one can deny the devastating effects of child abuse in our society and the damage inflicted on the victims and their families. This is particularly shameful if such abuse is committed by a priest and it is of course legitimate to portray heart-rending elements of this evil.

However, your programme sets out to inflict grave damage on Pope Benedict, the leader of a billion Catholics throughout the world. It is quite clear to me that the main focus of the programme is to seek to connect Pope Benedict with cover-up of child abuse in the Catholic Church. This is malicious and untrue and based on a false presentation of church documents.

I cannot understand why no-one from your Corporation made any attempt to contact the Catholic Church in this country for assistance in seeking accurate information about this matter. I must ask if within the BBC there is a persistent bias against the Catholic Church. There will be many, not only Catholics, who will wonder if the BBC is any longer willing to be truly objective in some of its presentations. What a pity if the respect in which the BBC is held worldwide were to be seriously undermined by the bias and lack of integrity shown in the decision to broadcast a programme such as this'. [RCDOW]

Anyone who has seen the programme should complain:

The email address is:

Anyone can complain about what is on the BBC website, such as this, and there is a lively discussion going on which can be viewed by the public, here.


Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen