BBC admits falsely describing Catholic Church as 'silent' before Hitler

Pope prays in St Maximilian Kolbe's cell - image ICN

Pope prays in St Maximilian Kolbe's cell - image ICN

In a significant finding, the British Broadcasting Corporation has conceded that in their main evening news bulletin, seen by millions, it falsely described the Church as being 'silent' in the face of Nazism and that it has not reported correctly on the Church's opposition to Hitler, David Alton writes in his blog.

He continues: The finding was made by the BBC's internal watchdog after Fr Leo Chamberlain and I jointly lodged a complaint. Fr Chamberlain, a Benedictine, is a historian and former headmaster of Ampleforth College.

The broadcast was made last July during a visit to Auschwitz by Pope Francis. The reporter stated as fact that "Silence was the response of the Catholic Church when Nazi Germany demonised Jewish people and then attempted to eradicate Jews from Europe."

After several unsuccessful attempts to seek a correction we felt that we had no choice but to make a formal complaint to the Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU). We presented a dossier of material - all of it publically available to any reporter.

Having studied this, the ECU said that, in their judgment, the news report had not given " due weight to public statements by successive Popes or the efforts made on the instructions of Pius XII to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution, and perpetuated a view which is at odds with the balance of evidence."

Ironically, part of the BBC report came from St Maximilian Kolbe's cell at Auschwitz. St Maximilian, was executed after taking the place of another prisoner. He had been arrested for publishing a denunciation of the Nazis in his magazine, Knight, which had a circulation of around one million people. Hardly silence, then.

Nor was silence the response of the 6,066 Poles (overwhelmingly Catholic) who have been officially recognised in Israel as Righteous Among the Nations, for their role in saving the lives of Polish Jews.

One charitable interpretation of the Auschwitz report was that it was a sloppy, lazy, throw-away remark - indicative of the sort of religious illiteracy that can cause so much offence; and part of a blurring between the straightforward reporting of news and the desire to add some melodrama to spice it up. Don't let facts or truth spoil a good story.

Less charitably, the BBC report may be seen as the simply latest example of a long running attempt to rewrite history.

To read on see:

See also: ICN 29 July 2016 - Pope Francis prays at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Tags: Auschwitz, David Alton, Fr Leo Chamberlain, Maximillian Kolbe, Pope Francis

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