Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Normally Christmas is thought of as a time of goodwill and kindness to all people. But the Roman Catholic Church, it seems, would prefer to use it as a time spread a message of prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people. So on Christmas Day the Archbishop of Westminster spoke out in forthright terms against proposals to equalise marriage laws in England & Wales.

Being Christmas, you might think the media would avoid reporting such unpleasantness. And, indeed, the Archbishop of Westminster's sentiments were given short shrift on ITV. They were mentioned briefly in ITV's news at 1.15pm and again in their 8.30pm news bulletin.

However Archbishop Nichols was given pride of place on most of the BBC's morning and early afternoon news broadcasts. It was a case of poor editorial judgement, because a viewer could easily be forgiven for assuming that the BBC is in tune with what Vincent Nichols had to say.

Contrast the BBC News at One with ITV's news bulletin at 1.15pm

ITV's evening news on Christmas Day began at 8.30pm. Two sentences, and no more, were given over to Vincent Nichols' remarks -

Nick Thatcher: From Westminster Cathedral there was a controversial message from the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Archbishop Vincent Nichols attacked the Government's plans for gay marriage, saying there was no mandate for changing the law and calling the proposals undemocratic and shambolic.

The BBC evening news on BBC One was broadcast at 10.45pm. Once again, substantially more time was devoted to this item -

Mishal Husain: Well, in his Christmas address the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has attacked the Government's proposals on gay marriage. The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said the process has been undemocratic and shambolic. Our Religious Affairs correspondent, Robert Pigott, explains.

Robert Pigott: (strains of 'Once In Royal David's City') With carols, candles and holy communion, Roman Catholics at Westminster Cathedral proclaimed the joy of Christmas. The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols used the occasion to criticise the Government's plans for gay marriage. Ministers say no church will have to provide same-sex weddings, but Archbishop Nichols accused them of behaving in an Orwellian fashion to create a sham version of marriage.

Vincent Nichols: Frankly the process is shambolic. There was no announcement in any party manifesto. There's been no Green Paper, there's been no statement in the Queen's Speech. And yet here we are, on the verge of primary legislation. From a democratic point of view it's a shambles.

Mr Pigott went on to talk about the final sermon by Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. Pigott's report included this piece to camera -

Robert Pigott: Rowan Williams was an Archbishop with the bearing and presence of a holy man: widely revered by Anglicans - often misunderstood by others. His extraordinary intellect and eloquence were largely wasted by a Church pre-occupied by disputes about sexuality. The Church will now look to Justin Welby for harder-nosed leadership, to overcome its own divisions and win the respect of an increasingly sceptical society.

No comments: