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Bishop of Paisley complains to BBC Scotland over video mocking Communion

Bishop John Keenan (Picture courtesy John McSherry)

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley has sent a letter to the Director of BBC Scotland complaining about a recent BBC short film: ‘Homophobia in 2018, Time for Love’.

In the April 23 letter, Bishop Keenan described the content as “beyond the pale, and unworthy of the BBC as a public service broadcaster.” Particularly insulting was the depiction of the Sacrament of Holy Communion as a Mini-Cheddar, wrote the Bishop, while a voiceover claimed that it “tastes like cardboard and smells like hate.”

The Bishop of Paisley put the video in the context of recent Scottish Government research finding that Catholics are the victims of fifty-seven percent of religiously aggravated crime in Scotland despite constituting only sixteen percent of the country’s population.

“In the current climate of growing hostility to Catholics, I would appeal that the BBC guard against adding fuel to the fire,” he wrote.

Bishop Keenan stressed that the Catholic community “is now worried that some elements in the Corporation have adopted an agenda” that “amounts to ‘LGBT views good, Catholic views bad'”.

He added: “When it comes to important public debates about the wellbeing of the human person and the truth and meaning of human sexuality Catholics feel their views are becoming increasingly marginalised, almost criminalised.”

Bishop Keenan requested a meeting with the Director to voice his concerns and restore some impartiality in broadcasting. The Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, Peter Kearney, has also complained to the Head of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs at BBC Scotland that the film breaches Corporation Guidelines.

He wrote: “The Guidelines make it clear that ‘Programme makers dealing with religious themes should be aware of what may cause offence.’ While also stating ‘Deep offence will also be caused by profane references or disrespect whether verbal or visual, directed at deities, scriptures, holy days and rituals’.

He added: “The gratuitously disrespectful representation of the Mass constitute exactly the type of disrespect which the Guidelines seek to avoid.”

BBC Scotland told the Catholic Herald: “The BBC appreciates that some of our audiences will find it challenging in its approach to tackling some very difficult themes but we do believe it important that we should provide platforms such as The Social to allow appropriate space for artistic freedom of speech.

“We do however regret that some Church members found it to be offensive.”