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The Pope to Broadcast Thought for the Day on Christmas Eve

Wednesday 22 December 2010, 16:32

Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to London in September 2010.

BBC Radio 4 has just made this announcement:

Pope Benedict XVI, will deliver his Thought For The Day on Radio 4, Friday 24th December at 7.45am.

Pope Benedict's Christmas message to the British people follows his UK visit in September. In an unprecedented move - the Pope has not presented material specifically written for a radio or television audience before - Pope Benedict recorded Thought For The Day in Rome on Wednesday 22nd December.

Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4 said: "I'm delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience. It's significant that the Pope has chosen Thought for the Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast - and what better time to do so than on the eve of one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar."

Thought for the Day is broadcast within the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 at 7.45am Monday - Saturday. It offers approximately three minutes of personal reflection from faith leaders and believers from a range of religious denominations. Those contributing to the programme have included Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Indarjit Singh and Mona Siddiqui.

Thought for the Day was first broadcast in 1970, succeeding earlier religious thought strands Ten to Eight (1965-1970) and Lift Up Your Hearts on the BBC Home Service (1939-1965).

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    Comment number 61.

    The nutty religious lot moan 'but this is Christmas, a religious time'. Actually if this Jesus character was born (and from sperm meeting egg, not a supernatural event) then the scientific evidence (of comet etc) suggests 25th of Dec isn't anywhere near the right date - a date made up at the say of a Roman emperor. This time of year has always had celebrations long before Christmas was invented; it is just yet another example of the Christian church muscling in on past pagan and other celebration to help enforce their church over others in order to eradicate them.

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    Comment number 62.

    Well, now you've heard it - or had a chance to. I wonder how many of the people who posted above before the event actually listened.
    No pope has ever broadcast like this before. Pope Benedict is a brave man as well as being our gentle, loving shepherd. He came on our radio to thank us for the welcome we gave him in September. And we still get all this drivel written by clever clogs who think they know more than God. If people don't want to celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity they don't have to. The shops would be much quieter in the winter then.

    We don't know the exact date of Christ's birth and I'm sure Pope Benedict would be the first to agree with that, but we need a date to celebrate it, so why not this date?

    And as for child abuse - hasn't that been overdone by now? Just count the number of lay people, men and women, who have been convicted for child sex abuse. It comes to a lot more than all the Catholic priests. But anything Catholic - or Christian - is an easy target.

    By the way, Queen Elizabeth was very welcoming to the Pope in Scotland and I thank her for that. I accept her as the queen of my country, but she isn't the head of any church - sorry. Read your history and you'll find out that the Church of England was founded on the need for a divorce, despite the fact that a lot of theology has developed around it in the intervening five hundred years. To read history, as Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, is to cease to be protestant.

    Catholic and proud of it!
    Happy Solemnity of the Nativity to you all!

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    Comment number 63.

    I’m sure that The Pope would like to thank Mr Thompson and Gwyneth Williams for providing him with an unchallenged platform to depict himself as “the source of all good” and also with another opportunity to whitewash his involvement in the ongoing cover up of the rape of young children by his employees. Not since the BBC gave him entirely disproportionate coverage during his recent visit to what one of his Cardinals called the UK “a third world country” could he have felt so lucky.

    As a head of state the chance to project himself in this way on the BBC to the British people when instead he should be answering on the program for his attacks on women's reproductive rights; enabling the HIV epidemic in Africa by opposing the use of condoms; and his continued persecution of Gay and Lesbian people and his denial of their human rights, (to name but a few of his more popular views) has been a great propaganda victory for him. As such I’m sure he is very grateful to you all in being given the opportunity to provide such a distraction from the reality of what he really represents; especially at this time of year when the magic act is in full swing.

    P.S. That "thought for the day slot" I suspect even the Pope wonders how the BBC keep getting away with privileging religion in such a blatant and shameless way with no apology to the millions of secular people it alienates and excludes; the same secularists the Pope liked to Nazis during his recent visit

    Shame on you BBC.

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    Comment number 64.

    62. At 2:37pm on 24 Dec 2010, Mary Hutchings wrote:

    And as for child abuse - hasn't that been overdone by now? Just count the number of lay people, men and women, who have been convicted for child sex abuse. It comes to a lot more than all the Catholic priests. But anything Catholic - or Christian - is an easy target.


    You miss the point Madam. True, child abuse is not peculiar to the Catholic Church. What is peculiar and repugnant is the cover up that the Pope was and continues to be involved in. Evidence being: the refusal to hand over files on Paedophile priests held in the Vatican to Law enforcement officers and the harbouring of child abuses in the Vatican. There’s plenty more should you be Christian enough to engage in what you don’t like to see or hear. I rather suspect that Jesus would have put the needs of the victims before the protection of the Church.

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    Comment number 65.

    The term 'God' is referenced 31 times in Genesis chapter 1. However there is no attempt to describe what God is in Genesis's 50 chapters. But if for any reason your approaching 50 and decide to read all 50 chapters, even if you’re like me an Atheist / Secular Christian ? ( omitting the paint drying bits about genealogy ). You may like me conclude these 31 references to God may well be conveniently implied as a super being and or creator. But by the time I read all 50 chapters, my overwhelming impression of what the term God refers to, is ourselves.

    Prompts the quote ‘I am that I am’. God says to Moses my name is I AM (Exodus 3 14). Whether you want to use the term God to represent the best of ourselves, or when we do something superhuman, exceptional, for mankind.

    So has the Pope read the Genesis cover to cover, who knows. People that study the bible I've noticed take a bit here and a bit there. However what God is from by the Pope’s recent statement: 'God often surprises us', to me implies God is some super being. But just from reading the start of the Bible, I conclude there are currently over 6 billion Gods on earth. So what is the Pope talking about And not just the Pope, how many other religious imply God is a super being, and not as the bible again and again describes God as being ‘someone's God’ ( the God of Jacob Israel, for example ). The God of Michael Barnett. The 6 billion Gods currently on earth, doing their best to get on with each other despite the yoke of tribalism that appears to control us.

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    Comment number 66.

    Thank you, BBC, for allowing the Pope to speak to us on Christmas Eve. Public Service Broadcasting at its finest. Peace and love to all those who feel angry, and a very Happy Christmas!

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I'm closing comments on the Radio 4 blog for the next few days while there's only a skeleton moderation team on duty. Thanks for all your comments in the meantime and seasonal best wishes to all!

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog


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