Roman Catholic Bishops Accuse BBC of Bias

News Observer [Vatican City]
Downladed October 18, 2003

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A Roman Catholic bishops group accused the British Broadcasting Corp. on Friday of having an anti-Catholic bias, pointing to recent programs on contraception, abortion and clergy sex abuse.

The Roman Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales, which has been holding talks in Rome, criticized two BBC programs as offensive in a statement distributed in the Vatican's daily bulletin.

One program was an Oct. 13 documentary, "Panorama - Sex and the Holy City," that investigated how the world has been affected by the church's teaching on contraception and abortion.

The bishops said the documentary unfairly argued 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 program was "Kenyon Confronts," which aired Oct. 15 and was about cases of clergy abuse more than 20 years ago. They said that program "regrettably persisted in using a single, uncorroborated source of proven unreliability as the basis for serious allegations against the Church."

The BBC denied being anti-Catholic. It said both programs examined serious issues of public interest and that it was "entirely legitimate for the BBC to investigate and report them."

The BBC said it asked representatives of the archbishop of Birmingham in central England for their views on the fairness and accuracy of "Kenyon Confronts" before it aired.

"The archbishop was offered the opportunity to respond in any way he chose. As yet we have received no formal complaint about the accuracy of the program," the broadcaster said in a statement Friday.

The bishops also accused the BBC of insensitivity in the timing of the shows, coming just before celebrations marking Pope John Paul II's 25th anniversary as pontiff.


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