Subscription Cancelled

Fr. Peter Daly

Parish Diary

August 11, 2010


Fr. Peter Daly talks about his reaction to an anti-Catholic cartoon in the Washington Post and his reasons for cancelling his subscription.


            I cancelled my subscription to the Washington Post. Now, for the first time in my adult life, I begin my day without a printed newspaper.

            There were four reasons: financial, environmental, technological, and personal.

            The financial reason was simple. Times are tough. The parish had been paying a lot to have the paper delivered. Cancelling the paper was just one of many things we did to try to balance our budget. Every penny counts. We also cancelled some phone lines, got rid of equipment, and cut back on utilities.

            The environmental reasoning was also obvious.  Everyday this paper pulp was delivered and every day I threw 90 % of it. I never read the sports section. I got that from TV and radio. I never read the Style section. Who cares what they are wearing in Milan?

But every day I stacked up unread newsprint and once a week we hauled it to recycling. Three years ago our parish made a decision to “go green.” Being a good steward of the environment meant less waste.

            Technology has also by-passed the daily paper, which incidentally was disappearing before my eyes. It just wasn’t worth the subscription.

            There were many other ways to get the same information the paper contained and most of them are free. I get two daily newspapers on line. Even my basic cable television has twice as many stations as I ever had when I was growing up. 

            Moreover, the paper was also disappearing before my eyes. Every month there was less and less to read. They eliminated the business section. They did away with the Sunday book section.

            When I was on retreat, a young priest said to me, “I don’t subscribe to any print media. I get it all on line.” Finally, even a baby boomer like me did not see the point.

            But the final reason for cancellation was personal.

            In Holy Week this year, the Washington Post printed a vicious cartoon by Tom Toles. It was a throw back to the anti-Catholic cartoons of Thomas Nast in the New York Post 19th Century.

            The cartoon came out as the pedophilia scandal in Europe was in the headlines.             Toles drew a cartoon of two bullet-head evil looking characters in clerical cassocks. They were labeled, “Decades of abusive priests.” One priest had a lasso in his hand which lay on the ground in front of a poster of Jesus, ready to ensnare a child. The poster read, “Let the little children come to me.”  The priest exclaimed, “What a great recruitment poster!”

            In the subtext, a tiny priest said, “How will we ever forgive ourselves?”  The other priest said with delight, “We are priests!”

            I was stunned.

            It was a vicious attack. It made a mockery of who I am and what I do.

            Abusive priests deserve criticism and condemnation. But this?

            It went way beyond legitimate criticism. It betrayed deep anti-Catholicism on the Post editorial staff.

            Would the Post have published a cartoon in Ramadan, showing Imams as fomenting terrorism?

            Would the Post have published a cartoon at Yom Kippur showing Hassidic rabbi’s as religious zealots who cause violence in the Middle East by their fundamentalis extremism?

            Would the Post printed an Easter cartoon attack Protestant televangelists as money grubbing frauds?

            So why do this to Catholic priests in Holy Week?

            Evidently because the editorial staff just of the Washington Post does not respect me or my religion.

            So as a matter of personal integrity I cancelled my subscription.

            The Washington Post has every right to think and say what they want.

            But I don’t have to pay for it.

            I have been a newspaper junkie for forty years, but I went cold turkey.

            I am surviving just fine.