Polands Papal advertising ban

Pope Benedict is planning to visit Poland next week, which has prompted a ban on anything that might offend his Shelteredness.

Broadcasters have banned the promotion of inappropriate products during Benedicts visit, as well as ads carrying any whiff of sexual innuendo. The three state-run channels have demanded to see in advance material due to be shown during his tour, which begins on Thursday. There is always the risk that the faithful may feel hurt if programming devoted to the Popes visit is interrupted by frivolous ads, said Zbigniew Badziak, head of advertising at the state network.

The channels have also decided not to show any adverts before or after televised masses which Benedict will lead in Poland, whose inhabitants were devastated by the death of their hero John Paul last year.

The ban has been criticised as being typical of the extremely conservative Law and Justice party, whose leaders condemned gay and lesbian people and espoused the death penalty on their way to winning the general election last autumn. Support comes from Radio Maryja, which has been condemed by the Vatican for its political agitating and anti-semitic and xenophobic views.

Belgians boycott Carrefour

The Brussels Journal reports that Carrefour Egypt has stopped importing and receiving Danish products from any supplier, and is removing all Danish products already on its shelves. This has triggered an email campaign in Belgium calling for a boycott of the French supermarket chain.

In other news, Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita has joined the fray by publishing two of the cartoons.

The editor, Grzegorz Gauden, commented that the European press has divided into two camps: those who decided to publish and those who explain why they are not going to do it. The editorial board, while recognizing the controversional nature of pictures’ contents, totally rejected the methods resorted to by the opponents of the publication: burning of national banners, terrorist threats, etc. Free press and free states cannot give in to this sort of pressure, was the unsurprising conclusion.

Radio Polonia reports that the paper has been criticised by Polish politicians.

Censored catholics

A couple of stories, both drawn from Index on Censorship. Ill leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

Poland: Editor suspended over youth debate on Pope

Pawel Sito, the editor of state Radio Poland’s youth educational channel Radio BIS, was suspended on 12 May.

The order followed a two-hour public debate about Pope John Paul II on broadcast live on 9 April from one of Warsaw’s liveliest and controversial clubs, Le Madame in the city’s old town. Sito was censured after Radio Poland management objected to some of the live comments about the pope, a week after his death. Le Madame is known for its controversial free public debate, late night music and art shows, which have brought it into dispute with the city authorities. Reporters sans Frontières expressed concern at the action, warning that it would foster self-censorship. Radio BIS’s webpage on the Radio website now carries a prominent link to more conventional tributes to the late Polish pontiff.

US: Catholic magazine editor ousted by new pope

The resignation of the Rev. Thomas Reese as editor of the weekly Jesuit magazine America - allegedly on the orders of an old foe, now new Pope Benedict XVI - has set off a stiff debate on the freedom of Catholic speech and press.

His sin, in the eyes of the Vatican and some US bishops, was allowing America magazine to serve as a forum for discussions that sometimes criticized the churchs handling of such sensitive issues as same-sex marriage, sexual misbehaviour by priests and the denial of Communion to politicians who disagreed with the church on abortion rights. Thomas Reese, who was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1962, had been editor of the New York-based magazine for seven years. He has endorsed his successor, fellow priest Drew Christiansen, who takes over on 1 June. Media reports said Reeses superiors in Rome said the resignation came after several complaints from then-Cardinal Ratzinger, whose subsequent election as Pope Benedict XVI made it doubly difficult for Reese to continue.