On December 8, Catholic League president Bill Donohue issued a news release describing the script of a “South Park” episode that defiled the Virgin Mary: it showed a statue of her “bleeding out her ass.” Later in the show it had a cartoon character of Pope Benedict XVI conclude that the bleeding was coming from her vagina.
This episode, “Bloody Mary,” was aired on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, and on the holy day itself; the station is Comedy Central. Because of its vile nature, Donohue asked Joseph A. Califano, Jr. to intervene (the distinguished public servant and practicing Catholic sits on the board of directors of Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central). He asked Califano to seek an apology and a pledge to permanently retire this episode; failing that, he requested Califano to issue his own statement of condemnation.
Donohue’s request reached Califano on December 9, and that evening Califano released the following statement:
“Today I viewed the South Park segment about the Blessed Mother. I found it an appalling and disgusting portrayal of the Virgin Mary. It is particularly troubling to me as a Roman Catholic that the segment has run on the eve and day of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day for Roman Catholics.
“I have talked to Tom Freston, the president and chief executive of the New Viacom, and asked him to review this show and determine whether any action should be taken. That decision is his.”
Bill Donohue commented today on Califano’s statement:
“Joe Califano did not let us down. His unequivocal condemnation of this incredible assault on Catholic sensibilities is very much appreciated. We await Mr. Freston’s response.”