Catholic bishop says BBC and Sky should show compassion

By staff writers
January 30, 2009

Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Birmingham, a member of the Holy Land Co-Ordination 2009, a delegation of bishops from Europe and North America who visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem earlier this month, has expressed regret at the refusal of the BBC and Sky to broadcast the Diststers Emergency Committee (DEC) Gaza crisis appeal.

"I deeply regret that the BBC and Sky could not see their way to broadcasting the very reasonable humanitarian appeal on behalf of the people of Gaza," said Bishop Kenney, in a short statement on Thursday 29 January.

His comments came as BBC director general Mark Thomspon prepares for a meeting with staff next week, in an attempt to quell the tide of anger and rebellion over the issue within the Corporation.

Senior executives are wanting to maintain a low profile and hope the media coverage will subside, but people are continuing to protest the BBC's decision - which MPs of all parties, the Charities Commission, churches, charities and a substantial proportion of the public believe to be misplaced and wrong.

Bishop Kenney, who is also spokesperson on European Affairs for the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, added: "At a deep level all human beings are willing to stretch out a hand and help each other, in particular at time when the ordinary people - men, women and children of all ages - in Gaza are facing appalling hardship and suffering."

The DEC, which includes Christian Aid, CAFOD, Tearfund and World Vision among its members, says that the Gaza appeal has so far raised over £1 million, but stresses that the need is still great.

Meanwhile, Oxfam, another DEC member, has refuted critics who claim it is biased, pointing out that while it criticised Israeli military action in Gaza, it also deplored Hamas rocket attacks.

"There is an attempt in some quarters to suggest that the DEC agencies are partisan," an NGO analyst told Ekklesia. "But as in the case of Oxfam, the critics are themselves highly partial."


You can donate to the DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal at by calling 0370 6060900, or at any Oxfam, Red Cross, Save the Children or Islamic Relief shop, high-street bank or post office.

Comments to the BBC about its decision may be made here:

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