Church fails to halt 'Popetown' cartoons in Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania - A controversial "Popetown" TV cartoon series will begin airing in Lithuania after a court rejected a request by the church to ban the show, series broadcaster MTV said.

"The request by Lithuania's Bishops' Conference said the cartoon should be banned as it mocks the Catholic church and clergy, who are shown in a vulgar manner. It also said that such a depiction of the church incites hatred," Ema Segal, spokeswoman for MTV Lietuva, told AFP.

"But the court rejected the request saying it found no evidence to confirm any threat to the Church," she added.

"We are happy that the court once again confirmed that media in Lithuania are free," Segal said.

According to Popetown's website, the series "takes you into the side-splittingly surreal world of the

Vatican as the long suffering and good-hearted Father Nicholas struggles to walk the narrow path of righteousness whilst surrounded by money-grabbing cardinals and a pogo-stick-riding infantile pope."

Segal said Popetown will begin airing Wednesday on MTV.

The music television station had planned to release the controversial cartoon series on Christmas Eve, but abstained after strong criticism from the church and politicians.

It then conducted an Internet poll, asking whether Popetown should go ahead.

"Eighty-six percent said the cartoon should be broadcast and 14 percent were against," Segal said.

Around 80 percent of Lithuanians are Catholics.