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Sex and the Holy City

In the West, many Catholics ignore the Church's teachings on sex. But in poorer countries the words of the Church still matter, whether spoken from the pulpit or through a government minister.

Pope John Paul believed everyone - not just the world's billion Catholics - should follow the Vatican's teachings. And he tried to make sure the world listened, becoming a key player in the bitter global debate over women's rights and reproductive health.

In this unique documentary, BBC reporter Steve Bradshaw investigates how the late Pope, who tried to act in the best interests of women, came to be accused of ruining so many lives.

'Deeply disturbing...When religious doctrine is blindly invoked and scientific fact twisted beyond recognition to put millions of lives at risk, then the integrity of the Roman Catholic church in all matters should rightly be called into question.' Tony Kerridge, Marie Stopes International

'SEX AND THE HOLY CITY does an excellent job explaining the origins of the Catholic Church's current misguided and often just plain inaccurate teachings related to sexuality, especially concerning contraception and abortion. It also illustrates -- often very poignantly -- how disconnected these teachings are from the realities of modern life. That disconnection has a tragic impact, especially on some of the world's most vulnerable people. Viewing the film is truly an eye-opening -- if deeply disturbing -- experience.' Merrill Wolf, Senior Associate, Public Information, Ipas

'Sex and the Holy City exposed one of the most shameful secrets of the Vatican's War on modern sexuality. It exposed the Vatican's willingness to lie about the effectiveness of condoms, to claim that condoms cause rather than prevent HIV/AIDS. From high ranking Cardinals to parish priests in Africa, some church leaders would rather see others die from AIDS than change their minds about sex. The film is a wake up call to the world's Catholics and the public health community, pointing out that flawed religious teachings can be dangerous to your health and that anyone who cares about human life must challenge religion when it does damage rather than good.' Frances Kissling, President, Catholics for a Free Choice

'Sex and the Holy City would make a good discussion starter in college classes where human rights, women's rights, or health issues are debated. General library collections are also a potential home for it... An interesting look at a topic that has a global reach.' Mary Northup, Educational Media Reviews Online

'Recommended for selective high school and academic libraries.' Library Journal


Main credits

Bradshaw, Steve (reporter)
Woods, Chris (film producer)

Other credits

Camera, Dean Johnson, Nick Hughes, Ian Kennedy; film editor, Rob Moore; editor, Mike Robinson.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Developing World
Global Issues
Human Rights
Reproductive Rights
Social Justice
Women's Studies


Pope, sex, reproductive health, abortion, HIV/AIDS, contraception, condoms; "Sex and the Holy City"; Bullfrog Films