Bishops' statement on Catholic coverage by BBC


 The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales issued the following statement on Friday evening: During this week, the BBC, mainly through its Religious Affairs Department, is giving good coverage to the celebrations of the 25 years of the Pontificate of John Paul II and to the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This is much appreciated. In this same week, however, BBC News and Current Affairs, has broadcast two programmes which have been biased against and hostile to the Catholic Church. In doing so, they have given offence to many Catholics. The first was a BBC Panorama programme, on Sunday, October 13, entitled 'Sex and the Holy City'. The main argument of the programme, which cannot be sustained, was that while the Pope preaches peace and life, his teachings and the actions of the Catholic Church (in opposing abortion and contraception) bring about widespread poverty and death. The second was a 'Kenyon Confronts' programme, on October 15, which focussed on past cases of abuse of children involving priests over 20 years ago. The programme did contain significant disclosures: the whereabouts in America of a priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham and a tape recording from 1985. But they were set alongside contentious and biased reporting of the Church's actions, both past and present. For example, the programme regrettably persisted in using a single, uncorroborated source of proven unreliability as the basis for serious allegations against the Church. For many decades the BBC has deserved the enjoyed a worldwide reputation for fairness and objectivity, especially in its News and Current Affairs. This reputation is increasingly tarnished. In England and Wales, there is considerable concern that elements within the BBC are simply hostile to religious beliefs and to any traditional sense of the sacred. Furthermore, the decision to broadcast both of these programme in the week when Catholic people throughout the world are celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the Pope and the life of Mother Teresa is a distressing sign of this insensitivity. It contributes to a further loss in the trust of many in the BBC as public service broadcaster.

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