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Abuse ‘cover up’ rejected

LONDON (CNS): The president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has condemned the BBC over a documentary which accused Pope Benedict XVI of covering up priest sex abuse against children.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster made a formal complaint to the director-general of the BBC about the documentary screened on October 1.

The documentary claimed to reveal how the Pope issued a “secret Vatican edict” instructing bishops to put the interests of the Church before the safety of children.

In a letter on October 2 to Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director-general and a Catholic, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor expressed the “enormous distress and alarm of the Catholic community” at the decision made by the publicly funded broadcaster to show the documentary called “Sex Crimes and the Vatican”.

The cardinal’s remarks came a day after Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, England, criticised the documentary as an “unwarranted” and “deeply prejudiced attack on a revered world religious leader”.

Archbishop Nichols said the film misrepresented two Vatican documents and “uses them quite misleadingly in order to connect the horrors of child abuse to the person of the Pope”.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation stood by the film.

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