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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
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If you would like to comment on The Sex and the Holy City programme, then click here to find an email form.

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Due to the high number of e-mails we get we cannot guarantee to publish every single message we receive. We may also edit some e-mails for purposes of clarity and length. The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC.

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I am ashamed to think that I was brought up in the Catholic faith if this is the attitude it takes within global society in the 21st Century. I am also amazed at some of the comments made by Catholics in this country. I suggest that the next Panorama should investigate why the average church going Catholic couple within the UK only appears to have two or three children. Is this because they only copulate to procreate and abstain the rest of the time?
Maggy Canty, UK

Would the opinion of the fervently anti-contraception Catholics on here change if the next Pope issued an encyclical allowing Catholics to use birth control?
Karl, UK

Having seen the programme on Sunday evening, and feel calm enough now to put thought to screen, I would like to say how angry the BBC has made me. Where is the crime in following the teachings of the Church. The evil presented in this programme has been created by man, and not by the Catholic Church.

Your programme presented an image of a callous, ignorant man, sitting in the wealth of Rome. This man, Pope John Paul II, is a gift from God to the world. His teachings are not those thought up on a whim, his teachings are not something new - they are Cannon Law, and more over Scriptural law.

I finally know now what is meant in the Scripture "Blessed are the poor..." The people portrayed in the programme are the poor of the world in many aspects - poverty, education, health... but they are so very rich because they choose to cling to the Word of God and respect the faith they have and live... Yes, the Kingdom of Heaven certainly belongs to them, and it is down to the rest of the world to emulate their love of God to make us worthy of His kingdom too.
Ingrid Butters, UK

They are Catholics because they choose to be...If they don't agree, they should join the Church of England or pick any faith that agrees with them
Martin Green, U.K.

While not a Catholic, and indeed opposed to several of their views, I have a greater trust of the RC's report than the WHO report. Both clearly have agendas and trust level would not be high for either. I have spent a good deal of time in Africa and have gained some understanding of the Luganda culture. The campaigns to promote condom usage is, at best, a stop gap measure. They have been very successful at reducing the HIV rate but it is through change in moral pattern not so much condom usage (which has only increased 3% according to the national paper, the New Vision).

Condoms "cover" up the real issue and the transmission of bodily fluids during intercourse is not limited to semen in the vagina (saliva can transmit HIV and in most intercourse events there is as much saliva exchanged as semen deposited). Abstinence is still the best method and you denigrate the ability of society to change if you do not present abstinence as the only fool-proof method.
David Griffith, Windsor, ON, Canada & Kampala, Uganda

With reference to the comments of Jean Mundell on the website; the Catholic Church does not take away the right to choose of members of the Catholic faith. They are Catholics because they choose to be, because they agree with the churches teachings. If they don't agree, they should join the Church of England or pick any faith - or none - that agrees with them. The church's laws are not unjust or inhumane; the programme seemed to be based on the assumption that abortion is not wrong, but if the Church is right and abortion is murder then, although the circumstances in which it is carried out might be mitigating, they don't stop it being murder. The plight of the rape victims is appalling, but if abortion is wrong then that option is out of the question; we have to find some other way of helping them. The rights of women do not come into it.

As far as birth control is concerned, it is the duty of both men and women to behave responsibly or accept the consequences. Which is more responsible, to follow your sexual urges unquestioningly and rely on technology to divorce your actions from their consequences or to learn to either accept the consequences of your behaviour or to moderate it? As for the church's teachings being outdated. What is right and what is wrong does not change with the date on the calendar. An insight into family life can be valuable, and many members of the clergy do have such an insight, but sometimes a degree of objectivity is helpful when trying to see what is right and what is wrong.

I think the mention of the Pope's vision of womanhood in the program was a red herring. It seemed to be an attempt to belittle the Pope in some way since it has no bearing on whether or not the church's teachings are correct. However, I don't see much wrong with his vision. Who is the better role model for women, the Virgin Mary or, for example, Madonna.
Martin Green, U.K.

As a practicing Catholic - or rather one who attends church, I am utterly dismayed and furious at the mind-control exercised by the church in poor countries as shown in your programme. I thought the programme did well to highlight the sad business. Millions (not thousands as your webpage says) are affected by the situation. The sad thing is that there seems to be no real mechanism to oppose this very misguided and misleading propaganda.
Dr. Padraig Quinn, Ireland

These people are having sex regardless of what the church teaches and people need to protect themselves
Nicola Dumps, UK

You cannot blame the Catholic church for AIDS in Africa. Why is AIDS not prevalent in Spain, Ireland, or Italy big Catholic countries. Thought this programme had an agenda and was a total waste of licence money.
David Breese, England

A completely biased, one-sided rant against the Catholic Church. The Church stands up for what it believes in, and some left-wing bigots at the BBC don't like that. The Pope calls it the 'Culture of Death'. The reporter was convinced that the raped girls should have killed their unborn children and failed to understand that respect for human life is fundamental to the human rights issue. Code words, such as 'reproductive rights' and 'interruption' were used meaning abortion, ie killing unborn children. Misinformation was handed out by the BBC as if it were fact. This was poor, sloppy journalism. When are they going to apologise? Do we get a right to reply?
Steve Vogt, UK

I found last nights programme very interesting and was surprised by the level of criticism. Suggestions that the BBC are some how responsible for wars are absurd. That aside I'm not sure that some of the commentators truly understand the effects of HIV/AIDS in some countries in Africa. It is in no way comparable to the situation in the UK or Europe. In some communities in Africa as much as 50% of the community are infected. These people are having sex regardless of what the church teaches and people need to protect themselves. The Catholic Church is entitled to its opinion on contraception but it should not be backed up by misinformation. Also it appears that in many areas people do not have a choice. Many Catholics in the UK choose to ignore the ban on contraception but this is not an option if it is not available and people are not given both sides of the story. This is the case in places where the Catholic Church is influential on government.
Nicola Dumps, UK

To all you Catholics out there, please can one of you explain to me why a woman who has been raped should be forced to give birth to a child when she may not know the man who raped her? Why should she be forced to carry the child of someone she does not love, where is the moral value in that? As a mother I am disgusted that a religion should condone that children who have been raped carry a baby to term! Let me ask you -what if it was your primary school-aged daughter?
Sarah, UK

If your 8 year old daughter was raped, would you feel comfortable with the RC Church's binding advice to let her carry the pregnancy to full term?
Hendrik Jan, Netherlands

Congratulations to the Panorama team and the BBC for having the guts to air this documentary. It covered a controversial issue and based on the response I say it worked. Of those who criticise the BBC for showing an unbalanced view I would like to narrow down the discussion to one question: "If your 8 year old daughter was raped, would you feel comfortable with the RC Church's binding advice to let her carry the pregnancy to full term?" (think before you answer)
Hendrik Jan, Netherlands

The majority of people commenting about last night's programme need to wake up to reality. Why should any religion take away the human right of individual choice. The programme highlighted the fact that people of the Catholic faith are not allowed to choose for themselves the right to avoid pregnancy, whether sexual consent is there or not. It is yet another case of women being second class citizens. How can the Pope and his stream of Cardinals insist on a law that is unjust, inhumane, and certainly outdated, when they have no insight into family life and the long term effects that these girls/women have to endure. It is not shame on the BBC for televising the programme, it is shame on hierarchy of the Catholic religion for giving their blessing in allowing such atrocities to happen.
Jean Mundell, England.

Now it would be a good moment to show a "pro-life" programme. I think it is fair, it is the another point of view. If the BBC accepts, people will see how horrible, cruel and inhuman the abortion is. We should put pressure on the BBC to broadcast that programme.
Tomas , The Netherlands

It's sad to see and read of the many people who hate Jesus and the Vicar of Christ and the Catholic Church, they are so consumed by their own evil lust that they will attack anyone who suggests anything different. The BBC is the most bigoted institution in this country, and is trying to encourage hatred and anger towards the Church which Jesus our saviour and redeemer instituted nearly two thousand years ago.
Mervyn, UK

Having watched the programme and read the comments written here, the blinkered bias of many of your correspondents is summed up perfectly by the numerous references to the BBC referring to abortions as 'interruptions'. If the correspondents had actually watched the programme and removed their blinkers, they would have seen and heard that the word 'interruption' is used by the government of Nicaragua to describe the termination of a pregnancy when there is a real danger to the woman and not a euphemism invented by the BBC.

It also amazes me that people are also trying to equate what's happening in these countries with the UK. In countries like the ones highlighted, if a husband wants to have sex - he does. His wife has absolutely no say in the matter - hence the woman in Manila with nine children. Rape of women is commonplace and, as well as the trauma of the rape, the woman, or child, is then expected to carry and care for the child produced as a result of being raped. Assuming, of course, in the case of an eight or nine year old girl, she survives the birth of the child in the first place.
Lee, Gloucester, UK

We may, or may not, agree with the theological teachings of the church but it should at least be acknowledged that these have been the subject of much thought and prayer and are genuinely held
William H M Bradley, UK

Last nights supposedly 'unique' programme on Sex and the Holy City left me with a feeling of disgust at the way the BBC and, in particular, Steve Bradshaw handled the most important matters of HIV, over-population and the anguish of women left to deal with children resulting from rape. His attempts at objectivity were a travesty of the Catholic Church's true position on these issues. The kindest thing to say would be that he did not understand it. But I suspect that he deliberately chose to misrepresent it.

All the discussion about holes in condoms was fatuous. I would accept that there could be much ignorance in the Church and elsewhere about such issues but this does not excuse the blatant partiality in this programme. Of course the issue about Aids is one of the most serious issues to face our world at the moment but to bring it all down to a question of whether or not condoms are porous to the HIV virus does us all a great dis-service.

I fully accept that the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception and pro-life issues is controversial. There is always a tension in moral issues of any kind. If there wasn't something would be wrong. Yes there are very severe problems in the world over aids, pro-life issues and over-population. The Catholic Church is deeply involved with many other agencies in doing its best to deal with such problems so please give some credit where credit is due.

Also we may, or may not, agree with the theological teachings of the church but it should at least be acknowledged that these have been the subject of much thought and prayer and are genuinely held. They are not just the views of a few seemingly elderly geriatric celibate men which can be dismissed as pure nonsense. This programme was offensive not only to Pope John Paul but to the millions of Catholics who care very deeply about the issues highlighted. So please, please could the BBC try to bring some real objectivity back into programmes such as Panorama. Nor would a public apology to Pope John Paul be out of place. Shame on you BBC!
William H M Bradley, UK

I watched your programme on Sunday 12th October and felt the church takes an irresponsible view. Does the church punish the fathers of the young girls they have sex with? Do they consider it a crime? Or is this acceptable? Why does the church not support all the families living in run down areas, slums or the people forced to live on the streets? Or would this cost them too much? If they do not allow the people to use condoms, they should accept the responsibility to look after all the children and their families. I really feel they have lost it and should realise what this means to every day people. They clearly need to review this "law".
Ms C Geddes, U.K.

So, the Catholic Church is to blame for the spread of HIV/AIDS, 'because of what she preaches' - like what? Abstinence? It needs to be said that the chief cause of HIV/AIDS infection is irresponsible sexual activity, otherwise known as lust. This kind of lifestyle is advocated by the 'it's your choice' brigade, not the Church.
Patrick McKay, UK

Regardless of whether the latex in condoms is porous or not, the fact is that condoms greatly reduce the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy. Regardless of whether or not non-marital sex is sanctioned or unsanctioned by the Catholic Church, it happens it happens all the time. The Church's decades old abstinence education program clearly has not been effective for all the "sinners" out there. Indeed, assistance education program introduced in the US by Bush have recently been shown to be less effective in terms of preventing teenage pregnancy than safe sex education. Given that people will continue to have sex regardless of the Church's imperatives, contracting disease and producing children destined for unreasonable poverty, the systematic obstruction and attack on condom use by the Catholic Church is reprehensible. Moreover, the basis on which the Church lays their claim to sexual authority is completely undermined by the lack of direct, honest sexual experience itself by any of the highest ranking Church leaders. The Christian message has been lost in these matters. Kindness, openness, mercy and compassion have been squandered for petty dogmatism.
Mathias, UK

The church needs to love the born more than the unborn
Julie, England

I know a fair amount about the history and the law relating to abortion in this country and was therefore particularly interested to see "Sex and the Holy City". Your programme was utterly compelling. The presenter was appropriately sensitive whilst being upfront and very clearly passing on factual information to the viewer. By the end I was very worked up. What is this preoccupation with the unborn child? What about living children?

Having read many of the fellow viewers' comments this morning I am no longer worked up, I am seeing red. I just cannot begin to fathom how any decent human being could watch your programme and then write in to defend the Catholic Church? Did they see the seven children living in a small shed in Manila? Did they see the sadness in the eyes of the little girl who has had to mother the child of her own father? Did they see the children who were HIV positive? There are millions of children living like this. It sickens me that these viewers are motivated to defend the pope rather than the thousands upon thousands of children and adults who lead lives devoid of their most basic human needs. Why didn't they see that?
Lucy, UK

I am Catholic but I am also a woman, a mother and a human being. I was appalled at the harm this policy does, from hungry and unloved street children to poor societies ravaged by aids. It cannot be better to condemn irresponsible sex than to protect people from it's worst consequences. People are living and dying in hell because of this policy. The church needs to love the born more than the unborn.
Julie, England

Isn't it funny that by and large the messages on this page which support the conclusions of the Panorama team are dripping with hatred: "pope is one of the most evil men in the world", "self important hierarchy", "churches made of gold" etc ad nauseum. And the messages supporting the Catholic view point are more measured, rational, reasonable. It isn't religion that causes wars, its the BBC and bigoted extremists like them.
James Rogerson, UK

The programme, which purported to be a serious investigative documentary, obviously had its anti-Catholic conclusion written before it started. It was a calculated insult to Pope John Paul II on his 25th papal anniversary and at a time when his enemies, especially in the media, are capitalising on his frailty and hoping for his 'imminent' death. It has also confirmed recent claims of institutional anti-Catholic bias at the BBC.
Anthony Ozimic, London

I was in Poland when there was the situation with the abortion boat. I thought it was disgusting how the Poles treated the crew by intimidating them. This is influenced by the RC Church who has Poland under the thumb since there is a Polish Pontiff. I was disgusted that it does not spend money on these issues such as poverty and unemployment that are massive problems in Poland but chooses to spend millions of pounds on worthless churches that are dripping in Gold. Ironically the Polish Hierarchy thinks this is far more important.
Martin , Scotland

This was one of the most biased, bigoted anti-catholic programmes I have ever seen
Tony Mercer, Wales

I sat through last night's programme in a mixture of incredulity and utter rage. I, like so many others, could not believe what I was seeing. When one has not been witness to these horrors it easy to continue as if they are not happening. Now that I've seen these things, it would be impossible to forget them.
Katherine, UK

This was one of the most biased, bigoted anti-catholic programmes I have ever seen--shame on you BBC !
Tony Mercer, Wales

I watched every minute of your programme last night, even though it caused me much pain. I was pained to hear about the tragic situations of poor people around the world and I was equally pained at the clear bias against the Catholic Church.

There was some serious omissions from the Panorama "investigations". Firstly, where was the scientific investigation of the latex rubber in condoms? Why did we have to be presented with arguments between a cardinal and the WHO? Why didn't BBC go to the scientists who advised the cardinal and the WHO and get the real truth - surely there have been electron microscope scans of this type of rubber that would prove definitively whether or not the pores are larger than or smaller than the HIV virus.

Why didn't Panorama show the statistics of the rise in AIDS, promiscuity, pornography and prostitution in recent years as the availability and use of contraceptives has also risen. There is a huge smoke screen being put up - not by the Catholic church, but by the media and those who say that contraceptives will solve all these problems.

On the abortion issue, the story of a pregnant nine year old girl was presented. This girl was an innocent and tragic victim of a crime. But Panorama failed to explain the Catholic belief that an even more innocent victim was at stake - the unborn child, who was equally entitled to fullness of life and love. Did BBC really expect a cardinal to come out in a TV interview and say that it was OK to use contraceptives or to have abortions? Come on, let's get real here. Of course they can't say that on TV because that would give the whole world a licence to do what they like. Please do not tell me that individual priests and nuns working in poor countries do not do their very best for the people under their care.

Do not insult the hundreds and thousands of people who look after the poorest of the poor. What about Mother Teresa who dedicated her life to the poor children in Calcutta? The problem is not with the Catholic church teaching, the problem is with us in the rich nations who do not share our wealth with the poor people in developing countries. And need I remind you of one of the major players in the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel Third World debt - yes, it was Pope John Paul II.

You see, the Catholic church simply must take a universal view, while still ministering quietly to people on a local level. There simply must be some source of moral authority in the world. Love it or hate it, the Catholic church believes strongly in what it teaches, and has the arguments and evidence to back it up. These arguments and evidence are based on the dignity of all human persons and the fact that each individual is created in the image and likeness of God.

Finally, it is really shocking that the BBC chooses to air such a blatant attack on Pope John Paul during the week of his silver jubilee. If any other prominent figure was celebrating a silver jubilee, wouldn't there be programmes celebrating his/her achievements over the 25 years? Instead, BBC practically blames him for all the world's problems. I am extremely hurt and offended by the anti-Catholic bias of BBC.
Fionnuala, Ireland

Watching your programme tonight I was filled with complete anger and disgust at the unbelievable attitude of the Catholic Church towards contraception. Being brought up as a Catholic and attending a Catholic school, I am a fully aware of the narrow minded teachings of the church on contraception and abortion. I firmly believe that the Catholic Church is about nothing but control, like so many other religions, and this is no where more apparent in it's teachings on contraception and abortion. For the Vatican to say that it is unacceptable for a child of 9, who has been raped, to have abortion is beyond belief. How about protecting the rights of women? They seem to get totally ignored in the pro life argument. The worlds population is out of control and the images of the shanty towns in the Philippines clearly illustrated this. It is all very well for the Pope to preach to the world that using contraception prevents pro creation and for these people to continue having children when they are living in poverty, when he is sat in the Vatican City which is smothered in gold. The Catholic Church needs to wake up and live in the real world and realise that the world around them is dieing through Aids. We need to focus on those who are all ready living, too much emphasis is placed on the rights of the unborn.
Kelly , England

This was a cynical and shallow exposition of the issues clearly aimed at vilifying the Catholic Church and therefore Catholics. The responses so far indicate that Mr Bradshaw has been successful in not raising a debate but giving a further platform to those issues which some would use to divide people. Is this a responsible use of license fees?
Jl, UK

To me, it seems the only solution to stop this criminal behaviour is to launch an pre-emptive strike on the Vatican
Bart Vliegen, Belgium

I would like to congratulate you on your programme last night. And would like to ask for more programmes like this. People need to now that there is injustice all around the world, against women, children, and the human race in general. I was really moved by the stories of all the people in the programme. It is true that ignorance can kill you.
Alex, UK

I think Christ would weep if he could see what is being done in his name by the Roman Catholic Church.
Liz, Oxon, UK

To me, it seems the only solution to stop this criminal behaviour is to launch an pre-emptive strike on the Vatican. A regime change is needed as soon as possible.
Bart Vliegen, Belgium

One small omission that I may have detected in last night's broadcast - much was given to the WHO's assertion that latex (that makes condoms) was not sufficiently porous - but no attempt seemed to have been made by the BBC to find scientific basis for the Catholic Church's claim that it is. If such a scientific basis exists - and I think it does, though I stand to be corrected - then the BBC's reporter is guilty of selective reporting to fit his theme.
Mel, Leicester, England

At my strict, Jesuit-run school I was taught, of course, that contraception was wrong. But also that if for medical reasons someone was prescribed a medicine or operation that had a contraceptive result it was all right to use it, provided the primary purpose was not to avoid conception. It seems therefore the church is ignoring or changing its own 'immutable' teaching by forbidding condoms to those already suffering from Aids. But there is a deeper point: the Church hates sex. This is clear from Jesus himself ("eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven" as well as insistence on virgin birth), Paul and every Church father you can think of. It is the overwhelming feeling everyone who has undergone Catholic education will tell you (nuns forbade girls at my wife's school to wear shiny shoes in case boys could see their knickers reflected). It's modern flim-flam about sex in marriage is unhistorical - all sex is hated (marry only to avoid succumbing to lust). This hatred of sex is corroding the far greater teaching of charity for those who suffer and forgiveness for those who succumb ("who shall cast the first stone"). It also in a spiritless age has narrowed its testimony of the reality of Spirit to a narrow fundamentalism on the one issue that by definition a celibate church knows nothing about. That is truly a reason for despair. Buddhism is even more negative on sex, but does the Dalai Lama denounce modern decadence or does he rather preach compassion all and for all? He has the Peace Prize, John Paul doesn't.
Michael, Dorset, UK

I was very disappointed with your programme. It's sole aim seemed to be to hold the church up to ridicule
Marian Tonius, UK

A superb programme this evening. I don't think for a second that the catholic church is trying to anything but help with the worlds problems however it would appear to have its blinkers on and be seriously ill advised when it comes to contraception, sex and transmitted diseases and death. It was a fair programme with everyone being allowed to have their say and put their point across. We appear to have let the beliefs of the Pope manipulate a vast majority of the world, although not surprised that Bush is cancelling $30 million of aid. The figures speak for themselves and re-education on a major scale is required. Hopefully the next Pope will have a more down to earth approach to things.
Mike, Scotland

I was very disappointed with your programme. It's sole aim seemed to be to hold the church up to ridicule. There seemed to be no attempt to balance your criticism of the Catholic church. There are many voices within the church which you ignored and you failed to put the question of abortion and contraception into its wider context of the church's teachings on social justice. In my view, a shoddy piece of tabloidesque journalism unworthy of the calibre of your programme.
Stephen Convill, Wales

Given that the BBC considers Catholic teaching to be absurd, and those who promote to be "ignorant and superstitious" (especially if they are black, of course), I was curious to know why the programme makers could not risk having an extended debate with the hierarchy, and felt that the only way to win the argument was to practically silence any intelligent dissent. It wouldn't be that the Beeb's line is not as self evident as they might think would it?
Marian Tonius, UK

Exactly how much pressure did the pharmaceutical industry put on Auntie Beeb to make tonight's hour-long condom advert? Did you feel you owed them something because of all the flack you gave them about Seroxat?
Brook, UK

I watched your programme this evening, and I can say it was biased against the Catholic Church. Your presenter has shown no respect to the Holy father and the Catholic Church as whole, I would not be surprised if he is not a Catholic. The programme was not balanced at all. I want you to look at the UK, where is the morality? What are you doing about under-age pregnancy? What are you doing about the sex as a recreational activity? Are you going to do something about it before you waste our TV fees on such bias programme?
A. Ringo, UK

Giving out condoms does not make people have sex. People will have sex whether or not there is contraception available to them
Georgina McDonald, UK

Excellent programme. It mentioned Bush's withholding of $34 million from UNFPA. UNFPA estimate this shortfall will result in 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 unsafe abortions and 4,700 maternal deaths. There is a campaign to right this wrong.
Roger Plenty, UK

Your programme "Sex and the Holy City" seems to suggest that the Catholic churches rejection of contraception is a recent policy, to be associated particularly with John Paul II. This is inaccurate: the Catholic church has produced encyclical documents against contraceptive practices for at least the last 150 years. Such documents include Casti Connubi published over 100 years ago. These teachings are not a novelty introduced by the current pope, but a continuation of the church's 2,000 year tradition and thus cannot be changed even after a BBC documentary.
J Friend-Pereira, UK

The Catholic Church, as well as condemning the use of any form of contraception and sex education, promotes family life and monogamous sex within marriage. Obviously this stance is highly effective and well-observed within the Catholic populations of the world, when, in one instance alone, the population of 80 million people in the Philippines is set to treble with the next thirty years.

Several emails on this bulletin board have alluded to the current sexual health and levels of promiscuity within the UK, saying that they have only worsened with the wide availability of contraception and sex education. Giving out condoms does not make people have sex. People, religion notwithstanding, will have sex whether or not there is contraception available to them - indeed, many people in the developing world are completely ignorant that sex leads to pregnancy, let alone HIV and AIDS - and the only way to even begin to combat this ignorance is to teach them, without any bias, and make them aware of their choices.

There are too many people on this earth already, and if the world population continues to grow at its current rate, we will all eventually be wiped out through the lack of resources available to ensure our survival. And for any intelligent, educated person of any religious belief, to say that an eight year old child who has been raped and made pregnant should then be forced to go full term and give birth is totally and utterly abhorrent.
Georgina McDonald, UK

My goodness, how the BBC hates the Catholic Church. Is it possible for you lot to get anything right these days?
Eileen McCloy, Scotland

Mr Bradshaw, you were too rude to the Archbishop of Nairobi. Your own personal outrage at what you found in your extensive research overtook your obligation to be an impartial BBC correspondent. You did a great injustice to millions of licence-fee paying British Catholics who might have been half sympathetic to what you meant by your programme. It appeared that you thought no dignity was owed to the Pope. Your cutting cynicism was obvious. You wanted to offer good journalism? You gave biased propaganda.
Damian, Channel Islands

What Scientific evidence have the WHO got that condoms prevent the passage of the Aids virus?
Judith Stockton, England

I have just viewed the Panorama programme. A very complex subject treated not very even handedly, but cutting through the hype and the mumbo-jumbo the most important factor is that condoms correctly used prevents AIDS. As a South African I recognise that any step at all to counter the pandemic in Africa is a valid one and the idea advanced by various RC clergy that the latex used in condoms is permeable to the virus is mischievous to say the least. The abortion debate is devalued by not dealing with preventative measures and retro virals in the AIDS crisis.
John Groves, UK

Were the critical Catholics watching the same programme as me? The programme never said that condoms were a 100% safe way to solve the Aids problem, neither did it claim that family planning could lead to the abolition of poverty.

It also noted that the WHO actually advises that the best way to prevent AIDS is through abstinence or monogamy with an uninfected partner. It simply also makes a recommendation that people use condoms, which significantly cuts the risk of transmission.

But I guess you were too busy adjusting your blinkers to notice.
Adam, England

My goodness, how the BBC hates the Catholic Church. Is it possible for you lot to get anything right these days? Tell you what, lets hope there is a big long queue of litigants waiting to sue Aunty Beeb when they act on the advice of the BBC, use condoms, and inevitably become infected with HIV.
Eileen McCloy, Scotland

I am appalled that so many 'Christians' are prepared to stand by and watch unplanned and unwanted children suffer such needless poverty and in many cases death
Sue Horder-Mason, England

I am outraged by the Catholic Church, and in particular our very own Pope John Paul amongst others. It disgusts me how we portray the church as our saving grace when what we see in countries that do not have the education and resources of other so called developed countries (Chris from Belgium). I feel as many others do, who were brought up Catholic that they are wrong not only in their teachings but as guardians of life and of moral guidelines. I am Pro Life and very much Pro Choice, what I think fails the documentary is not the content but the fact that it will have no impact. I am passionate in my disgust for "The Catholic Church" but not for people who find solace in God because everyone needs something to believe in and if it's the catholic or the Jehovah's or even Allah himself. Who am I to intervene because that is what choice is about! But the most valid point is, If we are all about life why would anybody ignore signs of a health epidemic within their own country and only take advice from a man who has never been in touch.
Clare Smith, Scotland

After watching Panorama tonight and reading the many comments posted on this site. I am appalled that so many 'Christians' are prepared to stand by and watch unplanned and unwanted children suffer such needless poverty and in many cases death. I am also saddened that they feel the words and beliefs of one man more important than the millions of people who are dying and will die of Aids because of the lack of a condom.
Sue Horder-Mason, England

The church is fighting for the good of humanity. Its message (not portrayed on panorama) is that contraception is wrong, fidelity is right. According to church teaching it is wrong to use contraception, condoms or not. this promotes marriage and stable families, a solid foundation for society. HIV/AIDS is a blighting and cruel disease. it is not wanted by the church nor is its spread. It needs to be diagnosed in every sufferer and they need care. if they then stick to church teaching wholly they will not transmit the disease. Anyone wanting to judge the Pope's understanding, sanity and intention should read his writings and know church teaching.
James, England

It is quite appalling that an influential leadership as the Holy City can do all that has been outlined in today's edition of Panorama. If they would take such a strong stand against condoms and contraceptives, they could at the least offer the countless millions of their followers the alternative that scientifically works to curb the evil of sexually transmitted diseases. Having said the above I strongly believe that the issue here is not the evil of STDs, nor contraceptives, but rather the masses being adequately informed of the exact/proper role the sex plays in our lives as human beings. And it must be stressed it is for two mutually consenting adults who have publicly (via marriage) declared their love and vows one to another. Parents should pick up the responsibility they have for years left to the government and teachers, by being the first source of sex education to their children.
Babatunde A. Ogunyinka, Nigeria

Perhaps you could have featured Uganda, a country turning round the AID'S crisis by the teaching of abstinence in Government programmes
Mike Meenan, Scotland

Perhaps the BBC can explain to us all why, in producing the Panorama programme "Sex and the Holy City", it so uncritically adopted and promoted the religion of the World Health Organisation over against the bimillenial teachings of the Catholic Church. The BBC is meant to be an organ of objectivity and impartiality, but its reporter Steve Bradshaw was anything but objective and impartial, peddling the Malthusian, infanticidal polices of the WHO as though they were self-evident first principles. Well, presumably they are for those who are ideologically fixated on the so-called 'reproductive health care' that is only too happy to kill millions of unborn children in their mothers wombs rather than have them pollute this earth with their untidy, squalid existences. How apt that the WHO has a symbol of Satan on its logo.
Timothy Johnson, England

Perhaps you could have featured Uganda, a country turning round the AIDS crisis by the teaching of abstinence in Government programmes. Also the Church doesn't teach sex is only for procreation, it teaches sex also unites man and woman in love. Maybe you could do a feature on natural family planning, e.g. the Billings method which is 97% effective, that doesn't fill the coffers of the pharmaceutical and contraceptive industry and doesn't pollute women's bodies or the environment
Mike Meenan, Scotland

In your latest blatantly anti-Catholic broadcast, Steve Bradshaw was championing the use of condoms with which you yourselves say the WHO reports a 90% reduction in HIV infection. Your reporter appeared to be advocating this in preference to sexual abstention (which one assumes is 100% effective). He seemed to think that Kenyan women should be willing to use condoms when their husbands were HIV+ve. I would be interested to know if he would be happy to put his own wife at risk if he himself were infected.
David Rhoden, England

The Pope is in a position of tremendous power and trust, and would be tremendously influential in preventing Aids from spreading, if he was in touch with the realities of people's lives. For young girls who have been raped and have become pregnant, aren't these young lives already violated? Have they not suffered enough? I find it incredible that an institution in which the recent sex abuse scandals have come to light, has the gall to preach their form of the "gospel" and walk the high moral road. isn't it time the Catholic Church and indeed all churches bow their heads in shame and admit accountability?
Olga Allen, UK

What man would want a child of eight to give birth. Only a Pope who has never fathered a child or had to give birth.
Margaret Salsbury, England

I find it hard to believe that even the BBC would stoop so low as to insult the Catholic population with yet again another propaganda 'Catholic Bashing' programme in this, the week of our Holy Father's jubilee. It disgusts me and angers me that we Catholics have to, not only put up with your blatant anti-Catholic attacks, but we also have to pay for the privilege by the compulsory licence fee for television which is undoubtedly the gutter press of the UK. Where is the democracy in this? As the president of a large pro-life group here in Jersey, after watching your Panorama programme this evening, I feel even more sorry for the world than ever - with irresponsible media like yours, no wonder we have bigots, racists and an ill-informed public who, unfortunately are brain-washed by your biased and misleading drivel. I would like to see you try to go 'Islam Bashing' in the same way as you constantly pop at the Catholics and let's see if you would get away with it? - I think not.
Fiona Hagg, United Kingdom

Having watched this hard hitting and revealing programme I now have to admit my ignorance. I always believed having sex with many partners indiscriminately was what caused one to be infected with the aids virus not whether or not I used a condom. obviously using condoms will prevent such things as unwanted pregnancy, disease, poverty and famine. Or it will at least absolve capitalism, globalisation and a weakening of morality of any guilt or responsibility in contributing to the problems of the third world.
Catherine, UK

Louise Thomas's assertions about the un-married Catholic Clergy and Church Estates is complete nonsense. I accept there are problems highlighted in the programme, but that is just nonsense.

I know you will think I am sexist. But it is only a man, like the Pope who has the nerve to tell women not to protect themselves from Aids by use of a condom. A man who has never had sex or produced a child who can ask a woman not to protect herself from Aids and men demanding sex of their wives, without protection. What man would want a child of eight to give birth. Only a Pope who has never fathered a child or had to give birth.
Margaret Salsbury, England

Abortion and contraception are not the same and should not be treated in the same way. Abortion kills and contraception saves. All life is sacred, but it can be prevented from forming in the first place. Also the issue of man abusing and destroying life was not addressed. The Vatican is male and it is allowing women to be treated as second class , unless the issue of contraception and male dominance is addressed the situation will prevail
Jo Reid, England

What gives the Catholic Church the right to use its strength and massive powers in such evil ways
James Nicoll, Scotland

I was disgusted at your attempt to vilify the catholic church. I am a Catholic who abhorres child sex, promiscuity, homosexual acts. Surely even the liberal producers of your programme cannot condone such acts. When the journalist interviewed the mothers with the children who were obviously not planned, would he not like to have suggested which ones should have been terminated. As for condoms he should read the box ie. warning not 100% safe so surely if you can get pregnant while using a condom why cant the Aids virus pass through it ? Don't blame Catholics, Muslims, Jews or any other respectful people for the state of our sexual morals - put it where it belongs, in the hands of our liberal friends
V White, England

I watched your programme tonight and I have to say that this was one of the most depressing things that I have watched in recent months. I cannot believe that as we sit at the start of the 21st Century so many peoples lives are still being ruined (and prematurely ended) by a group of men who's ideas and values emanate from the dark ages. What gives the Catholic Church the right to use its strength and massive powers in such evil ways? These self righteous, ill-informed, power hungry fools should take a look at themselves, they should search their consciences, and look at the life's that they have ruined and continue to ruin. How on earth can they believe that an eight year old child should carry a child to term? How can they get away with their lies about condoms? They are killing thousands on a daily basis and it must stop. Hopefully this programme causes some soul searching amongst the Catholics who watched and that this may lead us to a more hopeful future.
James Nicoll, Scotland

I was shocked to hear that the anti-contraception ruling of the Catholic Church was such a relatively recent thing. It makes the consequences of it seem all the more tragic. I broke my remaining ties with my Catholic upbringing when I learnt that the non-marriage of clergy rule was brought in a few hundred years ago to stop church estates being passed on to offspring. Whether old law or new, I am still shocked to think that any church could do so much harm in the name of 'pro life' when in fact the denial of contraception is only going to increase the causes of abortion.
Louise Thomas, UK

Dear Chris Woods. Thank you for this vitally important programme. Can't say I enjoyed it. Too livid with rage. This vile religious mumbo jumbo and superstition must be attacked with the truth at every opportunity. Very brave. Keep up the good work.
C.Worthington, U.K.

I thought the film was a revealing portrayal of how, in refusing to face the fact that people don't lead ideal Christian lives, the Catholic Church is condemning many of the poorest and most deprived women to misery and even death. I thought it exceedingly ironic that the men who were busy pontificating on how women should mange reproduction and extolling their view of the "perfect" family life are forbidden by their own archaic Church to have the first hand experience of a family themselves!

The interviews did not make the Cardinals "appear" ignorant - they are ignorant and what is worse, they are risking the lives of those they profess to care about, by peddling superstition and promoting ignorance.

However it is not just the Catholic Church that does this. As the programme mentioned, George W Bush is also endangering women's lives by banning aid to any aid organisations that promote abortion or family planning. How can people believe that condemning thousands of children to a life on the streets of Manila as shown in the programme is better than allowing their mothers to limit the size of their families and give them a better quality of life?
Susannah Lord, Norwich, UK

I sat and wept during this programme, when will the Catholic Church open its eyes to the suffering of women and children around the world?
Melanie, UK

Your Sex and the Holy City programme tonight was absolutely disgraceful. It was completely biased towards the utilisation of condoms in a world of free sex. You twisted the concept of free sex into an attempt by the Catholic movement to 'murder' people whom chose to have free sex. You made great highlight of the Catholic community condemning the use of condoms, and therefore making the consequence death if people do not use such contraception. You failed to highlight enough the Catholic teachings of the very fact that if people do not have free sex, then this itself is a natural form of protection against the evils of free sex - often pain and unfortunately death.

People have the choice - god or sinful sex. I would ask the question to any proud parent that have not been subjected to evil life - if it was your choice to control your own loving daughters future, and your choice to permit her to have sex with anyone they so wished, even under the influence of alcohol or drugs, would you let her sleep with someone known to you to have slept with all of your friends daughters in the town, even with a condom. If you would answer yes to this, then you have no respect for your daughter or her life.

If however you have this respect, then you would choose for your loving daughter not to have sex at all, only with a person whom you know to be faithful and free from evil. You the BBC, must fall in this category of accepting your daughters to sleep with anyone. My God have pity on you and help you to realise the true teachings of his love. Also, may God never give you daughters on whom your evils will be experienced.
Paul Hackwell, England

How can it be right to say that a child as young as 9 years old should continue a pregnancy - the church will provide for the mother up until the birth - what happens then? I sat and wept during this programme, when will the Catholic Church open its eyes to the suffering of women and children around the world?
Melanie, UK

I watched the programme tonight, and I was appalled, I am a Roman Catholic myself and believe in the Catholic Church and what it stands for. It is not only the Catholic Church who do not believe in birth control, Muslims do not practise it either.
Isabella Sowerby, England

Although the programme was interesting, the language and tone of it appeared to me to be biased and very accusing, as if to cause angry response, and I therefore find it hard to trust that the case was presented objectively. It seemed to me rather biased and subjective. Little was considered about whether or not the teaching of abstinence could help to prevent things like the spread of HIV or the huge population growth. I believe that effects of such teaching on teenage pregnancy in some US states could be examined.
Stephen Mason, Scotland

It was clearly hostile to moral teaching in general and the Catholic Church in particular
Peter Sefton-Williams, UK

I have lived in black African countries, recently in the Gambia in the bush. Although I am Christian I have found that the Muslim population paid a lot of respect to the AIDS epidemic and that condoms are easily obtainable and are deemed a "must" in the outlying villages.
Hugh Mitchell, UK

Your programme 'Sex and the Holy City' was biased and prejudiced. It was clearly hostile to moral teaching in general and the Catholic Church in particular. It failed to reveal that - if we take the UK as an example - sexually transmitted diseases are rising steadily among the non-religious, non-Catholic, majority. The argument that sexually-transmitted diseases will be cut if people are told to wear condoms has been shown to be untrue. The Vatican is telling nothing but the truth when it says that the adoption of the "condom culture" has resulted, as it always will, in a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. I challenge the BBC to broadcast an honest, objective, report on the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.
Peter Sefton-Williams, UK

Having just watched Steve Bradshaw's programme, Sex and the Holy City, I would love to see him conduct a similar programme about the Islamic view of the same question, I wonder whether he would dare?
Robert Ellis, England

Tonight's programme was an absolute travesty. No attempt was made to understand or explain Catholic teaching on sexuality. The programme was totally biased and no more than crude propaganda. How sad that the BBC should choose to mark the 25th year of Pope John Paul's pontificate in this way. How sad that the BBC has completely abandoned its own former standards of fair play, objectivity, impartiality and integrity. Why should I have to pay a licence fee to such a corrupt institution?
Patrick Martin, England

Abortion is already a euphemism for kill. I find it really strange that the BBC for all its plain speaking finds another even more dishonest word "Interruption" for cutting out of human life. It is this glib, gloss-over of the Western European culture of death and sexuality that stuffed into our faces on TV and in our everyday lives, that the Pope is determined to counteract.
Eve, UK

Your presenter didn't make the obvious logical assertion to the Catholic church's representatives that if condoms are banned from use by their flock in HIV/AIDS-torn countries, then assuming that the more enlightened non-Catholics use them, it will only be Catholics who die from aids. That is, natural selection will reduce the influence of their church.
Paul Swets, UK

The fact that the Catholic Church is trying to do something to stop promiscuity has been overlooked again by the likes of your programme
Geraldine Reid, Scotland

I turned on Panorama only at the end, and I am absolutely horrified that the Vatican, priests etc are telling people that condoms don't fight in the war against Aids. At the moment I feel so incensed that I have an ache in my stomach at just the thought of it. I cant believe that they could say such evil things. The reality of it all means that the Catholic Church will loose so many of its parishioners because they will die from Aids and then perhaps then their will be no more Vatican, what justice. I am a lapsed Catholic and my husband wonders how evil the church can be well this really takes the biscuit. I really hope that this programme stirs up some real positive reaction.
Nuala Briggs, UK

Having just watched your programme I find it, yet again, extremely annoying that you put over just one point of view regarding sex. In this country where there is little 'moral stance' given by many churches (other than the Catholic Church) or by the state, the use of condoms hasn't done anything to curb the levels of underage pregnancies, overage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and general free use of sex as a recreational activity.

The argument you tried to put over is that if the rest of the world, particularly in poorer countries, were to use condoms, there would be no problems. Don't insult my intelligence or your own. The fact that the Catholic Church is trying to do something to stop promiscuity has been overlooked again by the likes of your programme.

Why don't you balance the argument and show where this has worked and people/families are happy with their lifestyles. This country (the UK) has a falling population, is rich in comparison to many third world countries, yet still has a lot of poverty.
Geraldine Reid, Scotland

The manufacturers of condoms should band together and sue either the Pope, the Vatican or the Catholic Church in the European or World Courts. The only things the Catholic Church understands are money and power. Oh and ignorance.
D R Roberts, Scotland

Your programme tonight - which I just finished watching, was totally anti-Pope and anti-Catholic. I say shame on the makers of the Panorama programme and on the BBC for allowing such anti-Catholic sentiments to be spewed out against our church and our Holy Father the Pope. Absolutely disgraceful - and it will be condemned by all Roman Catholics who viewed it.
L. Steen, N.Ireland

What a shock - I thought the Church had lost it's grip on contraception bans years ago. Surely it's about time the WHO or whoever sued the Vatican for "endangerment of the public" or something similar. World Governments must act to protect the world population - this is more important than the "War on Terrorism". More people will die of Aids caused by the spread of Vatican anti-condom propaganda than will ever die from terrorism - George Bush take note! Excellent programme congratulations.
G Slater, UK

Your programme did not satisfactorily explain Catholic moral teaching and the reasons for this teaching
Pat Kiely, Ireland

I found the programme excellent. There are many faults with the West and the ideology of the West, but the Catholic Church has many more as this programme highlighted. The attempts by the Vatican to get the millions of followers to believe Scientific rubbish is absurd and outrageous. They are ten centuries behind the times. No-one can ever say the Church cares, because they don't care about anyone apart from their pathetic beliefs which are ruining millions of lives
John Harding, UK

I'm not a Catholic, but I've just seen your reporter show blatant disrespect to a black archbishop, suggesting he was ignorant and superstitious because he said disease can be transmitted using condoms. While the reporters comments re latex rubber are valid, perhaps he should consider:-

1. Condoms are not 100% safe and their availability doesn't mean they are always used.

2. Your reporter seemed to be championing the use of condoms indiscriminately - intimating that he condoned adultery and fornication.

3. Your programme had earlier intimated that abortion was somehow a viable life saver.

4. So if black is white, would your reporter have spoken to a senior English cleric in such a disparaging way?
Colin Goater, England

As a medical doctor, I found your reporting of this evening's programme jejune to say the least, and extremely biased - in the sense of being one sided. From first hand experience I cannot accept your analysis. Your standards are falling as is your sense of fairness and balance.
David Grant, UK

Your programme did not satisfactorily explain Catholic moral teaching and the reasons for this teaching. Furthermore there was a strong attempt to personally discredit Pope John Paul II, which I consider offensive.
Pat Kiely, Ireland

Every human life, from conception through death, has value and merit. I am happy the Church is consistent in it's teachings of human sexuality. As far as the little girl was concerned on one of your "stories", every attempt should have been made to save both lives.
Richard Kamleiter, USA

By the stance taken against condoms, the church is putting the health of future generations at great risk unnecessarily
Steve Fuller, England

I was outraged by "sex and the holy city" as I never thought that the Catholic Church was using lies (e.g. condoms have pores larger than the size of the AIDS virus) to stop people from using them. Your claim this is "a matter of life or death" is unfortunately very true. Thumbs up for the makers of this programme. This to me is a good example of what good journalism should be.
Peter Neirinck, Belgium

I was astonished while watching the programme throughout the stand taken still being taken by the Catholic Church on contraception and the treatment of young girls. Young girls being raped and becoming pregnant when only children themselves, deserves condemnation worldwide.

The Catholic Church must itself condemn such actions against young girls, not accept it. Contraception is a very important part of family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. The non-use of birth control leads to mass overcrowding as we saw, leading to future shortages of food and medical services.

By the stance taken against condoms, the church is putting the health of future generations at great risk unnecessarily. I think that the church must modernise in it's outlooks for the good of the future health and safety of future generations of Catholics.
Steve Fuller, England

Thank you for a magnificent programme regarding Catholic Church contraception stance. I think it was a highly responsible programme that denounced facts that are in great need to be made public. The Catholic Church lives in cloud cuckoo land spreading very dangerous beliefs.
M Ramos, UK

I am horrified by issues raised by this programme-that people are being taught that you can catch HIV through condoms. How many people could have been saved from catching the dreadful disease with more accurate/truthful information-shame on the catholic church.
Allison, Lancashire England

I watched your programme and I agree with what the Pope is saying, but I think that people with HIV/Aids should not have sex at all with anybody so the disease will not spread and kill as many lives as it does now

Sex and the Holy City
29 Sep 03  |  Panorama
Vatican - condoms don't stop HIV
10 Oct 03  |  Panorama
The Humanae Vitae
10 Oct 03  |  Panorama
Profile: Pope John Paul II
02 Oct 03  |  Europe
Your comments
10 Oct 03  |  Panorama


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