Joel Pett Cartoon Crosses Line, Smears Catholic Priests

A recent cartoon by nationally syndicated political cartoonist Joel Pett has smeared Catholic priests as deprecating, sick pedophiles.

Mike Allen, the director of family life ministries for the Diocese of Lexington, wrote about the cartoon for an excellent op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader. He wrote in part:

For the record, I have never heard a single Catholic bishop, or priest for that matter, point a finger in angry condemnation of a woman's desire for birth control. Yes, the Catholic Church views contraception and sterilization as morally incompatible with a rightly ordered sexuality, because sexual intercourse is naturally oriented toward the intimate union of spouses, and true spousal love is intrinsically total in its self-donation (a gift of the entire self, including one's fertility) and generously open to the possibility of new life.

Many people, including some Catholics, reject this view, largely because they have either discarded the intrinsically marital meaning of intercourse — making sex primarily about pleasure exchange — or have discarded the intrinsically procreative meaning of intercourse — viewing fertility as a disease or obstacle rather than a gift.

Yet the church holds all her children within her bosom, not screaming with pointed finger but patiently exhorting us to an interior conversion that will recognize the truth of human sexuality amid the multiplicity of false voices around us.

Mr. Allen has written a very nice analysis.

Meanwhile, the cartoon also ran up in the Philadelphia area for the Daily News. It did not go without criticism. Here is part of a letter that the paper received:

I get that the cartoonist and the majority of the country view the church's stance on contraception and abortion as antiquated and out of step with today's society. My problem with the cartoon is the gratuitous shot at the priesthood.

The vast majority of our priests are dedicated men who not only turn their lives over to a higher calling, but also attend to a needy flock. The typical priest's lifestyle is one of great self-sacrifice, not just in terms of sexuality, but in terms of material wealth, the inability to choose where they live, attending to the sick and dying, etc. Yes the institution of the Catholic Church erred greatly during the dark years of the pedophilia scandal, but those in the church who made those errors were a percentage that numbered less than 1 percent. Our current priests deserve reverence, not just from practicing Catholics, but from all people. They certainly do not deserve to have a national cartoonist use the image of a bishop uttering a double entendre in regard to a young boy. I'm well aware that the cartoonist is not on staff, but because your editor did not have the decency to pass on this particular syndicated cartoon, you can now count me as a past reader of your paper.

Jim Dougherty

Thank you, Jim. Not everyone is on board with Pett's narrow worldview. And painting all Catholic priests as pedophiles is not only unfair, but patently false.