BBC Documentary on Virgin Mary Alarms Believers

Contains Offensive Speculations, Says Bishop

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PORTSMOUTH, England, DEC. 18, 2002 ( The BBC network is considering the release of an offensive documentary on the Virgin Mary, according to Catholic Church officials.

«I believe that, in an age when we are all doing our best to build up a world of racial and religious tolerance, programs which, however unwittingly, attack the icons of major religious faiths, are unwelcome and troubling,» Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth said, expressing his concerns over reports that BBC is set to broadcast a program which claims to examine the life of the Blessed Virgin.

The documentary reportedly presents a series of historical theories on Mary’s life including that Jesus was the offspring of a Roman soldier who raped her, or possibly the result of an illicit affair.

Reports of the documentary emerged in the Catholic press late last week and have triggered alarm within the Catholic and wider communities.

Bishop Hollis, the chairman of the Church’s Strategic Media Committee and an ex-BBC producer, has indicated that he plans to write to BBC director general Greg Dyke, to express his concerns on behalf of the Catholic community of England and Wales.

On Tuesday, Bishop Hollis said: «I believe very strongly that programs of this nature should maintain sensitivity to those whose cherished beliefs are concerned.»

«The Virgin Mary is clearly a person whose life and times are immensely important to the whole of Christian history,» he added. «As Mother of God, she is honored and venerated by millions of Catholics and other Christians within these islands and all over the world.»

«To include, within a historical examination of her life, confused and unfounded guesswork, which carries with it crude and offensive speculation, is not only unscholarly but runs the risk of undermining the very integrity of the project itself,» the bishop said.

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