|UK||TV CARTOON SERIES LAMPOONS POPE AS RETARDED JOKER|
A British television cartoon which lampoons the Pope as a man with an emotional age of seven has outraged Catholics.
The $A13.1 million series set in the Vatican is being considered by the BBC and Sky. The 26-part series, called Popeman, is currently in production by Channel X, the independent company founded by the television presenter Jonathan Ross. However, the subject matter has shocked many of Britain's Catholics, some of whom are angry that it is being made at a time when the Pope is in declining health.
The Pope character - who the makers say is not based on a real person - is mentally backward, enjoys playing practical jokes and terrorises guards at the Vatican. One episode involves the discovery of an errant slip from the original Bible that reads: 'Page 9: 'God does exist' should read 'God does not exist'.' In another, a fridge bought from Chernobyl not only generates enough snow to build a ski slope in a Vatican crypt but its radioactive state brings dozens of previous Popes back from the dead.
Fr Kit Cunningham, at St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, central London, described the project as 'horrendous' and the creation of a 'pathetic' mind. He said: 'I believe this show will disgust most people, even those who are not Catholics. I will pray for the poor morons who produced it.'
But Phil Ox, the project's French director, said that the programme would not be tempered to avoid upsetting the Catholic Church. He said: 'I do not think the Church has any problem irritating me sometimes. I support gay rights and believe abortion is a solution sometimes. We do not want to question the fact that people believe in God and just want to question the establishment of the Church.'