In recent weeks certain bellicose correspondents have stormed onto your letters page, purple in the face and shaking their fists at Garret Gaston for daring to make fun of the Catholic church in his cartoon La Petite Camera [June 21]. Last week’s missive by Raymond E. Drake of something called the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property was especially priceless: “This blatant, filthy mockery of the papacy and the church is a grave insult to God and to all Catholics” read one passage. “We have no other option than to stand up and defend the honor of God and the Catholic faith” said another. At the end of the apoplectic fit we learn the TFP will “launch a nationwide campaign…to protest this blasphemy” if the Reader doesn’t send along an unqualified apology within a week. Hey Ray! What’s with the namby-pamby protest stuff? Fire up the Inquisition!

Just to stoke the tempest in Mr. D’s teapot, God, if there is such a creature, has a vast universe billions and billions and billions of light-years wide to play with and, I’ll wager, scarcely notices what the Catholic church does in His (Her?) name nor is the least bit nettled by what Mr. Gaston might say about it. Moreover, the Catholic church is an institution founded by men that serves the purposes of men (or at any rate a particular group of men), and as such the decisions, policies, and actions of its top executives and representatives are as likely to invite ridicule as those of any other. Finally, setting aside all questions concerning its ability to influence the Most Infinite of Holies, the Vatican itself has been strangely silent about everything written in La Petite Camera pertaining to religious matters. Seems to me they’d want to do the job of rousing America’s 70 million Catholics against the debased cartoonist themselves if they thought the need was all that urgent.

Mr. Gaston gets one unqualified endorsement from me (straight white male, raised Catholic) for the work he turns in, and the Reader gets one for printing it. I will be crestfallen if either of you apologizes for anything.


Frank Rawland

W. Thomas