WASHINGTON (December 16, 2005)—A recent episode of Comedy Central's South Park that mocked the Blessed Virgin Mary in a "tasteless and ugly fashion" reflects "extreme insensitivity," said Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a letter to Tom Freston, co-president and chief operating officer of Viacom International which operates Comedy Central.
Bishop Skylstad made his criticism in a December 14 letter to Freston.
"I hope you will appreciate the gravity of the hurt this program has caused and that you will not permit your networks to be used to give similar offense in the future," Bishop Skylstad said also
The letter follows.
Mr. Tom Freston
Co-President and Co-COO
New York, NY 10036
December 14, 2005
Dear Mr. Freston,
Viacom has shown extreme insensitivity in airing a South Park episode on Comedy Central which mocks the Blessed Virgin Mary in a tasteless and ugly fashion. 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.
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.
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 number of your viewers.
I hope you will appreciate the gravity of the hurt this program has caused and that you will not permit your networks to be used to give similar offense in the future.
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend William S. Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane