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Sony Assailed Over Cathedral War Game

The Church of England has accused Sony Corp. of using a cathedral in Britain as the backdrop to a violent computer game, and says it should be withdrawn from shop shelves.

The church said Sony did not ask for permission to use Manchester Cathedral and demanded an apology.

The popular new PlayStation 3 game, "Resistance: Fall of Man," shows a virtual shootout between rival gunmen with hundreds of people killed inside the cathedral. Church officials described Sony's alleged use of the building as "sick" and sacrilegious.

A spokesman for the Church of England said a letter was to be sent to Sony on Monday, and that if the church's request for an apology and withdrawal of the game was not met it would consider legal action.

Sony spokeswoman Amy Lake told The Associated Press on Saturday that the company's PlayStation division was looking into the matter and would release a statement later.

The British Broadcasting Corporation reported that Sony had described the game as taking place "in an alternate and mythical version of Europe in the 1950s".

David Wilson, a Sony spokesman, told The London Times: "It is game-created footage, it is not video or photography. It is entertainment, like Doctor Who or any other science fiction. It is not based on reality at all. Throughout the whole process we have sought permission where necessary."

The Very Rev. Rogers Govender, the dean of Manchester Cathedral, said: "This is an important issue. For many young people these games offer a different sort of reality and seeing guns in Manchester Cathedral is not the sort of connection we want to make.

"Every year we invite hundreds of teenagers to come and see the cathedral, and it is a shame to have Sony undermining our work."

The bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch, said: "It is well-known that Manchester has a gun crime problem. For a global manufacturer to recreate one of our great cathedrals with photorealistic quality and then encourage people to have guns battles in the building is beyond belief and highly irresponsible."

During the game, players are asked to assume the role of an army sergeant and win a battle inside a cathedral.

Patsy McKie, whose son was killed in Manchester's gun violence, told Britain's Sky News: "We know that young men are killing each other. We know that; that's a reality. I'm standing here as the reality of a mother who lost a son. So we know that! So we can't say 'well, it's just a game!'"