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Catholic school issues Red Nose ban

Pupils at a Catholic secondary in Wales have been banned from fundraising for next Friday's Comic Relief event amid concerns that the money will be spent on charities that support contraception and abortion.

St Joseph's RC Comprehensive in Port Talbot objects to the bi-annual event - which since 1985 has seen schools across the country organising inventive fundraising pursuits - because of the charity's alleged connections with activities that offend catholic doctrine.

A spokesperson for St. Joseph's, one of several schools in the area that have boycotted Red Nose days in the past, said: "We encourage our pupils to raise money for charities like the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development instead."

The school's concerns revolve around claims by Catholic organisations that some money raised by Comic Relief has previously been used to promote abortions in Africa.

But Comic Relief denies these claims. In a statement, the charity said it had opened a dialogue with the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in 2000 to help communicate the facts: "They (the bishops) issued a statement confirming that, after careful examination of our records, they were satisfied with Comic Relief's assurance that we do not fund, and have never funded, abortion services or the promotion of abortions."

But this failed to reassure some schools. In 2005, three large secondaries in the Diocese of Menevia, which includes St Joseph's, were involved in a red nose ban.

The diocese has not issued an official policy on fundraising this year, and the other schools involved were unavailable for comment.

Since its launch in 1985, Comic Relief has sold more than 50 million red noses and raised over Pounds 600 million. Red Nose Day 2009 will be held on Friday March 13.

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