Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 6, 2005
Anti-Catholic web cartoon protested
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
A cartoon animation depicting Pope Benedict XVI marching towards a gigantic statue of the Virgin Mary and giving the Nazi salute, along with the caption "Heil Mary," is degrading and insulting to Catholics says the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL).
The cartoon was posted on the rabble.ca website, published by feminist author and commentator Judy Rebick, who is best known as former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.
"The Catholic bashing at that level is unacceptable," CCRL executive director Joanne McGarry said in an interview.
McGarry said that the CCRL is examining its options on whether to file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission under hate crimes legislation.
She said the CCRL's preferred approach is "constructive dialogue."
She said she would expect people like Rebick and her sponsors to be "more sensitive to what a serious charge it is to call someone a Nazi."
"The definitions of hate crimes are pretty strict," McGarry said. "We're not sure we're ready to go to that level."
McGarry also noted that the play on the "Hail Mary" is a jab at one of the most frequently prayed prayers in the world.
Rebick told Canwest News she finds the cartoon funny. According to Canwest, she said that Toronto artist Mike Constable "has complete artistic freedom to do whatever he wants to do."
"If he annoyed people, he was successful," she said according to an article that appeared May 27 in Canwest papers.
"Canada has a long history of satire. Sometimes very biting satire," she said.
Ottawa based author and broadcaster Rabbi Reuven Bulka disagrees.
"There is no room for this type of satire in this civilized world," Bulka told the May 28 Ottawa Citizen. "How dare Rebick and her cohorts play loose with all this, with the pope's dignity and with the life of devotion he has led and continues to lead."
The CCRL wrote to International Cooperation Minister Aileen Carroll asking her to examine the funding relationship between CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) and rabble.ca because of the site's relationship with Alternatives, a Montreal-based NGO that has received CIDA funding.
Rebick said the website is not publicly funded.
"It's not public funding. We're hired by Alternatives to do a job," she told Canwest.
Responding to Rebick's remark, CCRL President Phil Horgan told CCN: "What job was Alternatives hiring them to do?
"To demean the faith claims of 13 million Canadian Catholics and abuse the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church?"
"The league does not believe that any public money should be directed to a publication that freely insults Catholics, or indeed any other identifiable group," the May 25 letter to Carroll said.
"No matter how small the amount involved may be, it is unacceptable."
Carroll, who is Roman Catholic, told CCN May 30 that she hadn't seen the cartoon, but she considers the content "utterly disrespectful" and "totally inappropriate.
"I do not approve of that kind of work," she said.
Carroll said, however, that CIDA's funding to Alternatives and One World, another NGO linked to rabble.ca had already come to an end for reasons unrelated to the website.
As a teenager in Nazi Germany, Pope Benedict XVI was drafted into the Hitler Youth but quickly stopped attending meetings.