Papal news blackout in Belarus?

Minsk, May. 03 (Forum 18/ - About 20 percent of Belarus' population is Catholic, but less than an hour of the late Pope John Paul II (bio - news)'s funeral Mass, and none of Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news)'s inaugural Mass, was broadcast on state TV, the Forum 18 news service has found.

The only Catholics able to view full live coverage of the funeral were those who can receive Polish TV broadcasts. Catholics were surprised by the small amount of TV coverage, but, "there was no outcry," a Catholic laywoman told Forum 18.

That the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI was not shown on Belarusian television, and given virtually no coverage in news broadcasts, "offended us a bit, as we wanted to hear about who the new Pope was," a Belarusian Catholic journalist remarked to Forum 18. She did not believe the lack of television coverage to be the result of Belarusian state policy. Several observers believed that the minimal coverage simply reflected simply a lack of professionalism.