'Disgusted' new Catholic Senator defends Pope

Within hours of taking up his appointment on Friday, Queensland Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce issued two media releases expressing his outrage at two separate TV programs depicting the Holy Father as a figure of fun.

The programs are Popetown, which airs this week on The Comedy Channel on Australian pay TV, and In Search of the Perfect Penis, which went to air on SBS TV on Friday evening.

The animated satire on the Vatican Popetown was made by the BBC, which yielded to public opinion and did not show it in the UK. However the series was sold to several overseas markets, including New Zealand, where it was aired on free to air TV last month.

"The program is a huge insult to the Catholic Community and to all Christians, who have a great respect for the Papacy," Senator Joyce said. "There is a line between what's considered satirical humour and what's just offensive. 'Popetown' crosses that line".

In New Zealand, Catholic Communications Director Lyndsay Freer watched Popetown along with members of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy. They all agreed that the program was "too puerile to warrant any serious action being taken against CanWest's decision to run the series on its C4 channel".

The other program - In Search of the Perfect Penis - angered Senator Joyce more for the manner of its promotion than the documentary itself, which he nevertheless labelled "inappropriate and disgusting".

The media release, titled Senator Disgusted At Late Night Viewing, said that Senator Joyce is "horrified advertising for the documentary included pictorial references to the Pope."

Senator Joyce, a 37-year-old father of four girls from St George in western Queensland, grew up in the New England region of NSW and went to boarding school at the Jesuits' St Ignatius College, Riverview. Since moving to St George, he has been closely involved with the St Vincent De Paul society, becoming President of the local branch (1998-2004). He has described himself as "right-wing on social issues and left on economics".

Senator disgusted at late night viewing (Queensland National Senator Barnaby Joyce 1/7/05)
Religious comedy crosses the line (Queensland National Senator Barnaby Joyce 1/7/05)
First episode of "Popetown" too pathetic to warrant concern (Catholic Communications 14/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Senator Barnaby Joyce
Offical Popetown site
Catholic Communications (New Zealand)
C4tv (NZ) | New Shows: Popetown
The Comedy Channel (Australia) | Popetown
SBS: In Search of the Perfect Penis

Catholic politician completes Howard's Senate majority (CathNews 29/10/04)
"Popetown" too pathetic to warrant concern (CathNews 15/6/05)
Popetown spoof for screening on NZ TV (CathNews 3/6/05)
UK Catholics angry over BBC's pogoing Pope (CathNews 25/3/05)

Joyce will cross the floor if unhappy with Telstra deal (ABC Radio AM 2/7/05)

4 Jul 2005