Saturday, May 29, 2010

BBC plans to help Catholic Church “revitalise” itself during Pope’s visit

The plea from Catholic leaders for the faithful to “watch the Pope’s visit on TV” raises the next objection – the amount of airtime that is going to be devoted by the BBC to this increasingly niche event.

We know that the BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson, himself a pious Catholic, has had talks at the Vatican about how the visit will be covered, and no doubt he promised hours of outside broadcasts.

But can this be justified now?

Do we really want our cash-strapped licence-payer-funded broadcaster spending a small fortune on something that relatively few people want to see?

If you look at this report by the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent, Robert Pigott, you will see that the Church thinks the Pope’s visit will be “priceless” in the sense that it will “revitalise faith” in a Church that is reeling from an endless litany of accusations of criminal activity, and decades of precipitous decline in mass attendance – even before such accusations became such public currency.

Is it really the job of our national broadcaster to come to the aid of a Church that is under fire all over the world for unspeakable crimes against the most vulnerable and innocent children?

The NSS wants to know whether the BBC intends to raise questions about the Pope and his complicity in all this while he is in this country, or whether it will allow itself to become a propaganda mouthpiece for an institution that is in severe need of investigation.

Important questions also need to be asked about the malign role of the Vatican in contributing to overpopulation, poverty and AIDS deaths through its policies on contraception and interfering in the democratic process by bringing undue influence to bear on Catholic public officials requiring them to seek to enforce dogma that often even most Catholics do not, regardless of whether they believe it to be for the public benefit.