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Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 16:28 UK
Build up to Papal visit marked with series of debates

To mark Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Birmingham on Sunday, 19 September BBC WM is holding a series of debates on key issues surrounding Catholicism.

Experts will join Ed Doolan to discuss women priests, contraception, recent sex abuse claims against priests and opposition to the Papal visit.

The Pope's four-day tour of the UK will culminate in Birmingham on Sunday, 19 September 2010.

An open-air Mass will be held in front of 70,000 pilgrims in Cofton Park.

BBC WM Debate 3: Clerical Sex Abuse
Pope Benedict XVI

Over the last two decades a number of cases of sex crimes committed by Catholic priests, or members of the religious orders, have emerged.

Many of the cases involved children.

Since 2001, the Vatican has looked into sex abuse allegations concerning around 3,000 priests dating back 50 years and the Catholic Church now say it is leading the way in cracking down on clerical sex abuse.

Two independent enquiries have been held resulting in over 70 recommendations implemented to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.

Joining Ed Doolan for the discussion were Theology student and Pro Life campaigner Peter Williams, Dr Margaret Kennedy, who runs a support group for victims of clerical sexual abuse, and Sue Cox, who was sexually abused by a priest as a child.

BBC WM Debate 2: Contraception

Pope Benedict XVI

The Catholic Church has been opposed to the use of artificial birth control methods for centuries.

It is against using condoms and advocates either fidelity within marriage or sexual abstinence.

Joining Ed were Father Michael Leadbeater - Dean of Catholic Churches in Walsall, Keith Porteous Wood - executive director of the National Secular Society and Robert Colquhoun.

Mr Colquhoun teaches the issue of chastity in schools.

But with an estimated 22 million people affected by AIDS in Africa and an ever-increasing trend for couples to co-habit, these views are called into question.

BBC WM Debate 1: Women Priests

Pope Benedict XVI

Currently the Vatican does not allow women to become priests but that policy has been challenged by campaigners keen to see women ordained.

Joining Ed for the debate were Father John Redford, Director of Masters Degree in Theology at the Catholic Maryvale Institute in Kingstanding and Reverend Chris Hobbs of St.Stephen's and St.Wulstan's in Selly Park.

Also taking part was Pat Brown from the Catholic Women's Ordination.

The Vatican forbids the ordination of females on the basis that Jesus only chose men as his disciples and never ordained women.

The issue was previously discussed in 1994 - when the ordination of women in the Church of England began - with the Vatican declaring the Catholic Church had no power to do so.


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