German Catholics seek to ban pope cartoon series

Munich, Germany - The archdiocese of Munich said that it had filed a legal injunction against MTV Germany to try and block the broadcast of Popetown, a "blasphemous" British cartoon series about the pope.

The bishops in Pope Benedict XVI's largely Catholic home state of Bavaria, southern Germany, want to stop the private television station from broadcasting the series.

Their injunction also concerns an advertisement for the show, the first episode of which is scheduled for Wednesday, following a green light from German television's regulatory body (FSF).

Popetown, which was originally made for the BBC but cancelled in Britain in the wake of protests, is a comic series about daily life in the Vatican.

In the words of the injunction presented to the civil court in Munich, it is "a collective insult to practising Catholics".

The archdiocese claims that the dialogues in the dubbed German version of the cartoon are even more blasphemous against the pope and the eucharist than the excerpts available on the internet.

According to the church, the cartoon pope is shown declaring that he hates orphans "like the plague" and that receiving them is "really crap".

Last week, the president of the conservative Christian Social Union group in Bavaria's regional parliament, Joachim Herrmann, filed an injunction against MTV over the advertisement.

The ad, published in "TV today" magazine, shows an empty cross next to a man with a crown of thorns and bloody wounds, giggling in front of his television.

Under pressure from church representatives and political leaders over the proposed broadcast, MTV Germany suggested a compromise solution last week, by proposing to organise a televised debate following the first episode of "Popetown" on Wednesday evening.

The archdiocese of Munich described this behaviour as "perfidious" and vowed to do all it could to prevent the ten-part series -- which is available on DVD -- from being broadcast.