21 Dec 2010

Prior to papal visit Sinead O'Connor says Pope and Vatican are anti-Christian, UK Cardinal says BBC is anti-Christian

The Guardian - U.K. September 5, 2010

Pope should resign, says O'Connor

In a new film, Sinead O'Connor argues that Catholicism has been brought into disrepute by an 'anti-Christian' Vatican

Riazat Butt

The pope should resign because he is anti-Christian and has brought Catholicism into disrepute through his handling of the paedophilia scandal, according to the Irish singer Sinead O'Connor.

In a film being shown on Channel 4 to coincide with the papal visit, she describes herself as "Catholic by birth and culture" and a campaigner on child abuse for more than 20 years.

O'Connor, who once tore up a picture of John Paul II on an Irish television programme, said: "'Catholic' has become a word associated with negativity, with abuse, with violence, but the essence of Catholicism is beautiful. The fact is, tragically, it's been brought into disrepute by the people running it."

"Benedict is in no position to call himself Christ's representative. The pope should stand down, the Vatican should stand down, not only because of the cover-up, they're incredibly arrogant, they're anti-Christian. They don't have the remotest relationship with God."

She appears in one of seven films commissioned by 4thought.tv, the channel's religion and ethics strand.

Other contributors include a mother of eight, Ann Peoples, who believes a papal blessing saved her unborn child from death and wants to thank Benedict for his stance on abortion, 19-year-old student Christine Parrano who thinks he is a "great man" and would like to sing Ave Maria for him, and Winnie Seruma, a Catholic with HIV, who wants Benedict to rethink his position on condom use. Lucy Pilkington, from Channel 4, said: "These are people's personal stories, their views and reactions to the pope.

"It's love, anger and the whole range of human emotion. For us, the whole idea is diversity and seven anti-pope films don't sound very diverse. Some people think he's amazing, others don't. Religion means different things to different people, this isn't intellectuals coming down from on high or someone who has been put forward by a religious institution."

That same week human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will explore Benedict's beliefs and policies in an hour-long documentary, The Trouble With the Pope.

He looks at the impact papal pronouncements have had on the developing and western world – with filming in the Philippines, Italy, Germany and the UK – and examines the plans for the beatification of Cardinal Newman, the nineteenth century theologian on the verge of sainthood, and the lifting of the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop, Richard Williamson.

The documentary also includes a first-person testimonial from sex abuse survivor, Sue Cox, who was raped by a priest and an interview with Catholic historian John Cornwell.

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The Telegraph - U.K. September 5, 2010

Catholic church accuses BBC of 'anti-Christian' bias

Britain’s most senior Catholic has accused the BBC of harbouring an institutional bias against “Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular”

By Heidi Blake

Cardinal Keith O’Brien said the BBC’s news coverage is contaminated by “a radically secular and socially liberal mindset”.

The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said the corporation’s intolerance of religion is equivalent to its “massive” political bias against the Conservatives in the 1980s.

He also accused the corporation of plotting a “hatchet job” on the Vatican in a documentary about clerical sex abuse on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain.

Cardinal O’Brien believes that atheists like Professor Richard Dawkins are given a disproportionate amount of airtime while mainstream Christian views are marginalised.

He is also angered by a 15 per cent slump in religious programming over the past 20 years and believes the broadcaster should appoint a religion editor to address the decline.

He said: “This week the BBC’s director general [Mark Thompson] admitted that the corporation had displayed ‘massive bias’ in its political coverage throughout the 1980s, acknowledging the existence of an institutional political bias.”

“Our detailed research into BBC news coverage of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, together with a systematic analysis of output by the Catholic church, has revealed a consistent anti-Christian institutional bias.”

He added that insiders at the BBC had privately admitted that there is a cultural intolerance of Christianity at the corporation.

“Senior news managers have admitted to the Catholic church that a radically secular and socially liberal mindset pervades their newsrooms.

“This sadly taints BBC news and current affairs coverage of religious issues, particularly matters of Christian beliefs.”

Cardinal O’Brien joined calls by the Church of England for the BBC to appoint a religion editor to spearhead the corporation’s coverage of faith issues.

The Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester and the Church of England’s lead spokesman on communications, made the request last month in a submission to the BBC Trust’s ongoing review of BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 7.

He wrote: "We see no logical distinction between the genre of arts, science and business (all of which include reflecting and discerning between different opinions and perspectives, and have BBC editors) and that of religion.”

Cardinal O’Brien also voiced fears that the broadcaster will use a forthcoming documentary called Benedict –Trials of a Pope to humiliate the pontiff on the eve of his visit to Britain.

The programme, which charts the clerical child abuse crisis that has dogged the Catholic church, has been made by Mark Dowd, a homosexual former Dominican friar. It will be aired on September 15.

Senior Catholic figures have suggested that the Pope could meet with victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests when he visits Britain later this month.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols told BBC1’ Andrew Marr show yesterday: "The pattern of his last five or six visits has been that he has met victims of abuse

"But the rules are very clear, that is done without any pre-announcement, it is done in private and it is done confidentially, which is quite right and proper so I think we have to wait and see.”

The BBC dismissed Cardinal O’Brien’s criticism of its religious coverage and denied that it had marginalised mainstream religious issues, which it said were placed “at the heart” of its schedule.

A spokeswoman said: “The BBC’s commitment to religious broadcasting is unequivocal. BBC news and current affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent, and works closely with BBC Religion, ensuring topical religious and ethical affairs stories are featured across all BBC networks.”

In response to the Cardinal's attack on the forthcoming documentary by Mr Dowd, she said: "Mark is just one presenter in a range of programming that will include live news and events coverage of the visit itself, and other documentaries across radio and TV."

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