LONDON – The Church of England, accusing Sony (SNE) of "virtual desecration," called on the Japanese entertainment giant on Monday to apologize and withdraw a gun-filled computer game set in a British cathedral.
It also called on Sony to contribute funds to help Manchester Cathedral combat gun crime that has gripped the northern England city.
Anglican church authorities were outraged by the PlayStation game "Resistance: Fall of Man" that depicts a shootout in the cathedral nave.
"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 a statement from the multinational said "We believe we have sought and received all permissions necessary for the creation of the game.
"Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is aware of the concerns expressed by the Bishop of Manchester (Nigel McCulloch) and the cathedral authorities ... and we naturally take the concerns very seriously."
It 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 been shot in the past 72 hours alone.
"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."