Boycott threat to Sunday paper
BY JOE JENKINS
THE BISHOPS of England arid Wales could urge Britain's Catholics to boycott The Sunday Times after branding the cover of last Sunday's Magazine as "deeply offensive".
The cover photograph was of the actress Raquel Welch, scantily-clad and tied to the Cross. The picture, shot by celebrity photographer Terry O'Neill in 1966, was accompanied by the coverline "Heavenly Bodies". Its use has added to the controversy surrounding the award of a papal knighthood to owner Rupert Murdoch in January.
Last week Mgr Kieran Corny, Director of the Catholic Media Office, wrote to John Witherow, Editor of the newspaper. after advertisements in The Times used the striking image to promote the forthcoming Sunday Times. "You must be aware that the advertisement for next weekend's Sunday Times Magazine featured in The Times of 24 September will be deeply offensive to many people, and not all of them Christians," he wrote. "I assume that the image of the bikini-clad woman on the cross will be used in the magazine.
"Whatever defence is made of it, it will be seen as a callous and arrogant disregard of the legitimate sensitivities of a large number of readers.
"I look forward to your reply and your explanation of the choice of this particular image."
But the Catholic Media Office this week suggested that if the reply from Mr Witherow is unsatisfactory. the Church could call on the Catholic community to boycott the paper.
A spokesman said: "We've had many complaints from members of the public. We are encouraging people to write and complain themselves to show The Sunday Times the strength of feeling and give a message to other papers that this sort of image is unacceptable. Depending on the response we get, it could be that we would urge people not to buy The Sunday Times."
Fr Tom Connelly, spokesman for the Scottish bishops, said: "I find it distasteful that a quality paper would publish such a picture."
Ann Widdecombe MP said: "I think the Media Office is absolutely right.
"We're seeing a situation where every faith in this country is accepted. except for Christianity. They are just getting on this bandwagon.
"Everybody should be given a chance to repent, so let's just see what The Sunday Times has to say."
The Sunday Times has yet to comment on the complaint. Editorial Comment —p9