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Media's Rising Anti-Christianity

5/29/2007 - 6:00 AM PST

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Prejudiced Attacks Recycled

By Father John Flynn

ROME, MAY 29, 2007 (Zenit) - Sexual abuses mixed with allegations of Church abuse make for an explosive media formula, as Italians can testify. The state-owned television broadcaster, RAI, sparked a debate after it announced that it wanted to buy the rights to transmit a BBC program, "Sex Crimes and the Vatican."

Last Tuesday the RAI announced its purchase of the documentary. But owing to strong protests over the program's credibility, RAI director general Claudio Cappon stipulated that the talk show that will host the transmission, "Year Zero," also has to give time to Church representatives for a rebuttal.

Along with presenting an account of child abuse, the BBC program makes accusations concerning a supposed Vatican-ordered cover-up. The documentary also accuses Benedict XVI of complicity in covering up sexual abuses in the past when he was a cardinal.

The tendentious nature of the BBC program was exposed in a declaration made last year by English Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is chair of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.

In an Oct. 2 press release, which came the day after the BBC broadcast the program in England, the archbishop acknowledged the distressing fact of child abuse. He clarified, however, that the part of the program that attacks the Vatican and the Pope "is false and entirely misleading."

The prelate said it was false because the BBC program misrepresents two Vatican documents. The program refers to a 1962 document, "Crimen Sollicitationis," which Archbishop Nichols explained, was not directly concerned with child abuse, but with the misuse of the confessional. A second document, "Ad Exequendam," dated 2001, does not, he argued, hinder investigation of child abuse, but is rather "a measure of the seriousness with which the Vatican views these offenses."

BBC bias

This isn't the first time BBC programs have taken on the Catholic Church. After strong criticism the BBC eventually decided not to transmit its 2004 cartoon series, "Popetown." The cartoon ridiculed Pope John Paul II and the Church.

The cartoon resurfaced last year in Germany, where MTV bought the rights with a view to transmitting it just before Good Friday, reported Deutsche Welle on April 12, 2006. Protests failed to block the program, with MTV deciding to broadcast the entire 10-part cartoon, after a test transmission of the first part, reported Reuters on May 9, 2006.

The BBC's attitude toward religion was examined by the English newspaper Daily Mail in an article published Oct. 23. Following what was termed an "impartiality" summit convened by BBC Chairman Michael Grade, the paper cited "senior figures" as admitting that the broadcasting corporation was guilty of an anti-Christian bias.

Moreover, the Daily Mail reported, during the meeting, BBC executives admitted they would happily broadcast the image of a Bible being thrown away -- but would not do the same for the Koran.

Attacking Mary

The BBC is not alone in its hostility to religion and the Catholic Church. Another recycled show, this time an American cartoon, "South Park," recently came under fire in New Zealand. A May 23 press release by the New Zealand group Family Life International detailed a complaint made by Catholic bishops about an episode insulting the Virgin Mary, broadcast last year.

The bishops presented evidence in an appeal against the decision last year by the country's Broadcasting Standards Authority, which refused to uphold their complaint about the insult to Mary, along with complaints about other episodes.

A lawyer for the bishops, Richard Laurenson, told the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday that the program breached the broadcaster's obligation to maintain good taste, decency and fairness. A decision has been reserved in the case.

Another recent case comes from Canada, where a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation pilot program that portrays altar boys as drug addicts and the communion host as snack food has sparked protests, reported the Ottawa Citizen newspaper on May 16.

The program, "The Altar Boy Gang," was denounced by the Catholic Civil Rights League. "With this program, the CBC has moved into the area of blasphemy of sacred rituals," the organization declared. It also accused the CBC of double standards, noting that the insults toward the Catholic Church came after it hired a Muslim consultant last year to ensure that Islamic practices were respected in the program "Little Mosque on the Prairie."

Earlier this year, it was a recycled Italian export that took on the Church, this time in the United States. The University of Minnesota decided to perform a play, "The Pope and the Witch," by Italian author Dario Fo.

A Feb. 22 ...

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