AUCKLAND Thousands of words attacking the papacy and Catholicism appeared in an Auckland community newspaper in late May.  The North Shore Times, owned by Fairfax Media, carried an insert called The South Pacific Signs of the Times.
The text refers consistently to popery. It shows a text-number matrix that claims to show the name Vicarius Filii Dei (Vicar of the Son of God) produces the number 666 (the mark of the beast). It also attacks other churches and the Jewish community.
The editor of the North Shore Times, Peter Eley, told NZ Catholic that he could not say much as his general manager, David Penny, had said he would deal with it.
Im not going to run away from this, Mr Eley said. I am going to apologise, as it was a disgraceful piece.
Mr Eley said he didnt know about the insert before the paper was distributed.
The Head of Content for Suburban Newspapers, Matthew Gray, said in a statement that, This insert was provided to us at our printing plant, pre-printed and bundled by the organisation that produced it, Hope International. The content does not reflect the views of the North Shore Times and we regret any offence it may have caused. The paper has changed its procedures with inserted material received from third parties, to ensure this does not happen again.
The Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn, had earlier written to the newspaper expressing his concern.
I am very surprised that an insert of this nature, with its offensive comments . . . managed to find its way into the North Shore Times.
Your paper has a long history of service to the community. . . . I feel sure that you would not want to align yourselves with the kind of distasteful and scaremongering material in this tabloid insert.
Bishop Dunn said it would be appreciated if the paper publicly disassociated itself from any endorsement of the derogatory comments in the insert.
The insert fails to say who produced it. However, an imprint on the last page refers to Patriotic Christian Distributors (PCD). An online search brings up websites describing PCD as a Seventh Day Adventist company in Christchurch.
A browse of the site of one advertiser in the insert, Hope International, reveals more anti-Catholic statements.