Bishops' president blasts South Park episode
The president of the US Bishops has criticised a recent episode of the animated TV comedy South Park that he said showed Mary in "a tasteless and ugly fashion."
In a letter to Tom Freston, co-president and chief operating officer of Viacom International, parent company of Comedy Central, the cable channel that shows South Park in the US, Bishop William Skylstad said the channel showed "extreme insensitivity" in choosing to show the episode.
The episode, which first was shown on 7 December and had repeat showings in the week following, was titled "Bloody Mary." During the episode, a "South Park" character claims to have been sprayed with blood from a bodily orifice of a Virgin Mary statue.
When Pope Benedict XVI investigates in the show, he declares that she was merely menstruating.
The episode's premiere date came the day before the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation for Catholics that honors Mary and commemorates church dogma that she was free from original sin from the first moment of her existence.
"This is especially offensive at a time of the year when the Blessed Mother is most commemorated and honored by millions of Christians, including Catholics," Bishop Skylstad wrote to Freston.
"While I am sure that Viacom feels some responsibility not to air everything presented to it by those who create material for your various entertainment enterprises, it is hard to imagine where you would draw the line, given this offensive programming," Bishop Skylstad added.
"While artists have the right to freedom of expression, you also have the right and responsibility to exercise some discernment so that your organization is not associated with material that grievously and gratuitously offends the sensitivities of large numbers of your viewers," he said.
In Australia, SBS screens South Park on Monday nights. There is no indication of when and if it will show the Bloody Mary episode.
Bishops' president blasts 'South Park' episode lampooning Mary (The Universe 20/12/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
South Park (SBS TV)
South Park: Bloody Mary (tv.com)
21 Dec 2005