by Christopher Howse
TO DROP the televising of Mass would be a very serious decision. according to Fr Michael Mitchell, who took over this year from Bishop Agnellus Andrew as head of the Catholic Radio and Television Centre.
Fr Mitchell was responding to press reports that the BBC was considering whether to cut religious services as a routine broadcast. The head of BBC religious broadcasting, the Reverend Colin Morris has said "The BBC has no plans to abandon religious worship on TV." But he admitted that they were considering radical ways of making religious broadcasts more effective.
Fr Mitchell said he welcomed the debate at the BBC and had no fears that a decision would be made without consulting Catholic representatives. But he added that televised Masses were valuable as representing an element of national life. Ttfey were important for the sick and housebound who most benefitted froth them, he said.
The BBC has said that it relies heavily on the advice of the Central Religious Advisory Committee. Up to now Catholic services have figured among those of mainstream churches broadcast on Sunday mornings. But there has been some concern among Catholics that viewing figures, low by television standards, might tempt the corporation to drop church services entirely in favour of programmes designed for studio presentation.
Many Catholics unable to attend Mass find the broadcasts helpful, but some involved in planning religious coverage, doubt the value worship through the medium of television.
• Cartoon page 1.