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Polish priest wins case against newspaper that insulted Pope

A 96 year old Polish priest has won a defamation case against the country's main ex-communist newspaper after suing it for describing Pope John Paul II as a "simpleton curate".

Supreme Court judge Gerard Bieniek said he had ordered the Trybuna daily to apologise for offending the "religious and patriotic feelings" of the priest, Fr Zdzislaw Peszkowski.

"Although Fr Peszkowski was not directly hurt by this article, he is, as a Catholic priest, particularly close emotionally to the Pope, and can therefore make this claim," said Bieniek in his ruling. But the judge dismissed an accompanying claim for financial damages, saying the paper had already published several statements of regret for the article carried in 1997.

Meanwhile a pensioner from northern Victoria pensioner is taking legal action against TV station Channel 7 over the use of the name "Jesus Christ" as a swear word, saying it is time for Christians to be awarded the same respect as other religions.

Andre van der Linden has claimed the use of the name in the British-made series Prime Suspect was insulting and disrespectful to Christians.

He has lodged a complaint with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), alleging Channel 7 breached new racial and religious vilification laws.

He said he wanted to do something to ensure Christians were afforded the same respect in the media as Muslims and Aborigines.

"We don't like to see people vilified in this country. Aboriginal people have taken a lot of time to be regarded on a basis where vilification is a no-no. Muslim people are never vilified in terms of media," Mr van der Linden told ABC radio.

"But I have seen them pour scorn on Christianity more than any other religion," he said.

Channel Seven intends to defend the action, which is scheduled to be heard by the tribunal in two weeks.

A spokesman for the network said it did not believe it had breached its code of conduct, but Mr van der Linden, from Waranga in northern Victoria, said he hoped the case would set a precedent.

"I am not after any money, or anything for me personally, I just want to draw attention to the fact that this (is) actually unacceptable."

Polish priest wins case against newspaper that insulted Pope (Ecumenical News International 21/4/04)
Channel Seven 'took the Lord's name in vain' (AAP/Sydney Morning Herald 21/4/04)

22 Apr 2004