Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has today ( Monday, 2 October 2006) sent the following letter to Mr Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC.
“Dear Mr Thompson,
In May 2005 I wrote to congratulate the BBC on its coverage of the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
It is with deep disappointment that I now write to express the enormous distress and alarm of the Catholic community at your decision to broadcast Sex crimes and the Vatican. No-one can deny the devastating effects of child abuse in our society and the damage inflicted on the victims and their families. This is particularly shameful if such abuse is committed by a priest and it is of course legitimate to portray heart-rending elements of this evil.
However, your programme sets out to inflict grave damage on Pope Benedict, the leader of a billion Catholics throughout the world. It is quite clear to me that the main focus of the programme is to seek to connect Pope Benedict with cover-up of child abuse in the Catholic Church. This is malicious and untrue and based on a false presentation of church documents.
I cannot understand why no-one from your Corporation made any attempt to contact the Catholic Church in this country for assistance in seeking accurate information about this matter. I must ask if within the BBC there is a persistent bias against the Catholic Church. There will be many, not only Catholics, who will wonder if the BBC is any longer willing to be truly objective in some of its presentations. What a pity if the respect in which the BBC is held worldwide were to be seriously undermined by the bias and lack of integrity shown in the decision to broadcast a programme such as this.'