Irish newspaper apologises for anti-priest cartoon

The Irish Times newspaper has described as “a regrettable editorial lapse” a cartoon it published suggesting that no priests can be trusted with children.

The cartoon by Martyn Turner showed three priests, with one holding a paper stating “Children First Bill” and “Mandatory Reporting”.

The three priests were singing “I’d do anything for children (but I won’t do that)”.

To the side of the cartoon was the statement: “But there is little else you can do for them [children] except stay away from them, of course.”

The context was Ireland’s Children First Bill, which authorities say will make it mandatory for some professions to report incidents of harm and risk of harm to children.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said many priests felt hurt about the Turner cartoon.

Speaking on Holy Thursday, Archbishop Martin said he is a strong believer in freedom of speech and of the vital role of satire in social criticism.

But he objected to “anything that would unjustly tarnish all good priests with the unpardonable actions of some”.

The Irish Times took the cartoon down from its website and apologised for the offence and hurt caused.

Several days later, Dr Martin said that he is open to the idea of married priests.

But he said ordaining women to make up for the shortage of priests was “not on the table at the moment”.

There are now only 250 active diocesan priests in Dublin archdiocese to cover 199 parishes.

Dr Martin said he would “wait and see” what Pope Francis decides about married men as priests.

“I’ll wait and see, certainly in missionary countries it must be very important,” he said.

Bishop Erwin Krautler from Brazil has said that Pope Francis is open to suggestions from bishops’ conferences across the world on ordaining viri probati (married men of proven character).

Dr Martin said more focus must also be put on the deacons and discovering where “priests and lay people can take part in a more collaborative way in our parishes”.


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