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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 22:33 GMT
Cardinal attacks sex in the media
Archbishop of Westminster
The Cardinal said sex is trivialised in the media
The leader of Catholics in England and Wales has accused the media of threatening the health and happiness of children by its portrayal of sex.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said he suspected "more often than not" that there was "no real context" to the presentation of sex in the media.

And he said it was shown as "something which has no real significance" with love "hardly ever mentioned".

The Cardinal was speaking at the University of Wales Swansea.

In our culture there is much more at stake than the size of the magazine market, or the health of the advertising industry
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
He told the university's theology society: "Sex divorced from love, from commitment, from fidelity, and from the desire to have children is a trivialisation of something profound and extraordinarily important.

"In the market place it would appear that sex sells. But in our culture there is much more at stake than the size of the magazine market, or the health of the advertising industry."

He said a breakdown in family life, increased divorce rates, and "peripheral" sexual relationships were "in danger of inflicting very real and long-lasting damage on our society".

'Constant fear'

In Wednesday night's speech, the cardinal went on to speak out against a growing sense that there was a right to a "risk-free" existence.

He said aversion to risk sometimes led to doctors, teachers and social workers living in "in constant fear" of accusations of malpractice and litigation.

"Everything which goes wrong has to be someone else's fault, heads must roll, compensation must be paid," he said.

"But there is an even greater danger that we end up running away from reality and that we lose our freedom and our courage in the process."

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