Pete Davidson and the Catholic Church at Odds

Pete Davidson is once again in the spotlight, and this time not for the right reasons.  On the “Saturday Night Live” episode that aired on March 8th, Davidson made a comment, saying “this guy [R. Kelly] is a monster and he should go to jail forever.  But, if you support the Catholic church, isn’t that, like, the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan? I don’t really see the difference, only, like one’s music is significantly better.”  

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Davidson is referencing the arrest R. Kelly on ten counts of felony aggravated criminal sex abuse charges.  Kelly as been accused for more than 20 years of various sex crimes, none of them sticking until now. He was acquitted for a crime in 2008 and paid monetary settlements to several women who have accused him of both sexual and physical abuse.  These recent investigations into Kelly come after the shocking docuseries Surviving R. Kelly and the BBC documentary title Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes.  In addition to the 10 counts of crimes he is charged with in Illinois, Kelly is also facing three separate criminal investigations in Atlanta, New York, and Chicago.  R. Kelly is a predator and is finally getting served some justice.

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But what does this have to do with the Catholic church?  Davidson’s comment is in reference to allegations of Catholic priests abusing young children within the church.  Some criticize the church for not mishandling the cases and not taking responsibility for their priests. Nonetheless, the church did not think Davidson’s comments were amusing.  The Diocese of Brooklyn made the following statement: “Apparently, the only acceptable bias these days is against the Catholic Church. The faithful of our Church are disgusted by the harassment by those in news and entertainment, and this sketch offends millions.  The mockery of this difficult time in the Church’s history serves no purpose.” They go on to say “The clergy sex abuse crisis is shameful, and no one should ever get a laugh at the expense of the victims who have suffered irreparably… It is likely that no other institution has done more than the Catholic Church to combat and prevent sexual abuse.  The insensitivity of the writers, producers, and the cast of SNL around this painful subject is alarming.” The Diocese is demanding an apology.

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Davidson’s comment was edgy and topical.  Although how productive was it? Both Catholic priests and R. Kelly have committed reprehensible crimes.  Both should be held properly accountable. But all Davidson’s comment did was reignite past emotions and fuel to the fire.  It didn’t offer healing in any sort of way. All it did was remind people just how bad things can really be. I don’t know if an apology is necessary, but reflection certainly is.