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Open Letter To C4 Regarding Screening Popetown

Thursday June 2, 2005

An open letter to the management of the C4 television channel regarding the decision to screen Popetown

To the management of the C4 television channel,

We are a Catholic organisation who is dismayed to hear of your intention to screen the highly offensive "Popetown" program on your television channel.

As you are already well aware, the BBC in England, who originally commissioned the program, chose not to screen Popetwon because of the offence it would cause to Catholics in that country.

It was with great disappointment that we learnt that C4 has chosen to screen the program, which is nothing more than a mockery of the leadership, practise and beliefs of Catholics, here in New Zealand.

The program, in the words of the creators, portrays the Pope as a "77 year-old eccentric with all the charm of an obnoxious seven-year-old (who likes Father Nicholas so much that he takes baths with him)." Popetown also includes characters such as "the sinister, corrupt and mysteriously wealthy Cardinals; the fame-obsessed TV reporter Sister Penelope; and Sister Marie, who all too often acts before, or even without, thinking."

The claim from the creators of Popetown that it is "not about the Vatican; it is about the hierarchy and bureaucracy in any company" is absolutely ridiculous. Popetown is set in the Vatican; the main characters are Catholic clergy, Cardinals, and religious sisters, and the Catholic Church is not a company. Despite any claims to the contrary, this program has everything to do with the Vatican.

The creators of Popetown also claim that "Despite all the irreverence, Popetown is not meant to offend". This statement is akin to suggesting that "despite the fact that I physically assaulted you, I never meant to harm you."

We are writing to implore you to reconsider your decision to screen Popetown on your television network. It is highly offensive and is nothing more than intolerant deriding of Catholic beliefs, practises, and leadership. Most offensively of all its portrayal of the Pope is disrespectful and degrading.

We also encourage all New Zealanders, who do not wish to see the beliefs of others belittled and mocked on public television, to take a stand by expressing their concerns about the screening of Popetown to the management of C4 television.

Yours truly,

Brendan Malone
Family Life International


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