Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gun battle at the church

LONDON (Reuters) - The Church of England has expressed outrage at Sony's PlayStation game "Resistance: Fall of Man," which depicts a shootout in the nave of Manchester Cathedral. Anglican church leaders have accused the Japanese entertainment giant of "virtual desecration" and demanded that it apologize and withdraw the gun-filled computer game.

It also urged Sony to contribute funds to help Manchester Cathedral fight gun crime that has gripped the northern England city.

"The video footage of the cathedral battle on YouTube has shocked and dismayed us beyond words. They can only be described as virtual desecration," Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester Cathedral, told reporters.

"We are shocked to see a place of worship, prayer, learning and heritage being presented to the youth of today as a location where guns can be fired," he added.

Manchester Cathedral said Sony had not asked permission, but the company released a statement claiming that it has sought and received all permissions necessary for the creation of the game.

"Sony Computer Entertainment Europe stressed that the game "is a fantasy science fiction game and is not based on reality."

Asked what Sony's next move would be, a spokesman said on Monday: "We are now in contact with the Cathedral authorities and will be dealing with them directly."

Cathedral Dean Govender, clearly dismayed by the game's content, said: "We were sickened to discover that the millions of people who play the game have a choice of weaponry to use within the cathedral."

Govender said it was well known that Manchester had a serious problem with gun crime, noting that three youths had recently been shot.

"Every year we invite hundreds of teenagers to come and see the cathedral so they might appreciate an alternative to the violence they experience in their daily lives," he said.

Laying out the cathedral's conditions, he said Sony should apologize unreservedly and withdraw the game.

He said the church authorities would also ask Sony to make a substantial donation to its education department for work in trying to combat Manchester's gun culture.

"For the global manufacturer Sony to recreate the interior of any religious building such as a mosque, a synagogue or in this case a cathedral with photo realistic quality and then encourage people to have gun battles in the building is beyond belief."

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