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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 21:04 GMT
Senior Bishop denies church rift
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has been criticised
One of the Catholic Church's most senior Bishops in England has denied he is at odds with his superiors after defending recent media coverage of the church.

The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Reverend Crispian Hollis, said the Church itself was at fault for the bad press it had received over paedophile priests.

But this contrasted with the message given by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who last month accused journalists of relentless attacks on the Church and on the Roman Catholic faith.

Bishop Hollis said on Monday there was "absolutely no dispute" between himself and the Cardinal.


The Church is not the victim in all this, the children are

Bishop Crispian Hollis
In an earlier letter issued to priests in his diocese, Bishop Hollis said: "It does not help to castigate the media for the bad coverage we have been given.

"They, by and large, are doing their job and we are at fault for our mistakes, however uncomfortable and unhappy that may make us feel.

"The Church is not the victim in all this, the children are."

Last month, Father Michael Hill, former chaplain at Gatwick airport was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of young boys.

Cardinal O'Connor was severely criticised when it emerged he had given Hill the Gatwick post even though he knew he was a paedophile.


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