The cartoon in the picture appears in a newspaper owned by a company whose chairman is a Knight Commander of The Order of St. Gregory the Great.
Notice the depiction of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's expression. It is malevolent, the image of a tortured, conflicted individual. That the Holy Father generally projects an expression of togetherness and calm which could put a Californian hippy to shame seems to have escaped the cartoonist.
Instead, they have chosen to depict Benedict XVI as something akin to Roland Rat. What's next? Cormac Murphy-O' Connor as Kevin the Gerbil? Basil Hume as Errol the Hamster?
The really intriguing thing about the cartoon is the cartoonist's ignorance of Papal history. The condom upon Benedict's XVI's head is intended to be a travesty of the Papal tiara. Pope Paul VI renounced his tiara, and all his successors have declined coronation. The cartoonist is therefore associating Pope Benedict XVI with an item of headgear he has never worn, about as absurd as depicting Barack Obama in a 'See You, Jimmy!' wig.
There is a moral for our cartoonists and satirists in this. When depicting popes wearing condoms on their heads, do not act like johnny-come-latelys.
The reason for this cartoon is that the Holy Father has once again mentioned the unmentionable, and spoken the truth that condoms are not the solution to the AIDS epidemic. All those committed internationalists who would be out of work if HIV and AIDS were ever to be brought under control in sub-Saharan Africa must have sighed and thought to themselves, 'Oh crap, the crazy old Bavarian fart's gone off on one again'; yet the fact remains that he's not wrong.
In 2004, I wrote a commentary on this very subject entitled 'The BBC's War On The Pope', concerning the very biased treatment that the state broadcaster gave it in a 'Panorama' programme entitled 'Sex and the Holy City'. If you want the science that condoms are not universally effective in reducing the rate of HIV infection, here it is, under a rather misleading title -
"This review indicates that consistent use of condoms results in 80% reduction in HIV incidence".
So, even with a consistent use of condoms, HIV infection is reduced by 80 per cent. Notice the presence of the word 'consistent'. Presumably no data exists on those victims of HIV whose partners were inconsistent. Even amongst those whose partners' concept of fidelity include insulation, as if the act of lovemaking were akin to lagging a pipe, their chances of contracting HIV still stand at one in five. Those are not good odds.
The published conclusion also presumably assumes that the condom manufacturing process adheres to the highest possible levels of quality control; a conclusion which, given the nature of the manufactured article's purpose and its intended durability, requires an enormous leap of faith. Sorry, but isn't it only crazy old Bavarian farts who do faith?
The expression 'the sex industry' is often defined all too narrowly as solely meaning the labours of 'sex workers'. However, it is surely appropriate to include the manufacture, distribution, advertising, promotion and sale of all types of contraceptives under the 'sex industry' banner. There is absolutely no reason why the grinders of pills and the hawkers of rubbers should be exempted from the contumely which still attaches to pornography and pimping. Without sex, the pornographer and the pimp goes out of business. Without sex, the grinders of pills don't get professorships, and the hawkers of rubbers don't get to run train companies.
It is difficult to formulate a riposte to this type of cartoon. That it's ineffably ugly anti-Papal, and by extension anti-Catholic, propaganda straight out of the Tudor era should be taken as read. Or seen. One can safely say that the cartoonist should be considered a propagandist.
Putting a pinpricked condom on the Pope's head also indicates to this writer that the cartoonist should be considered a pin.
The cartoonist should not feel offended; the slightly less civil ex facie competent alternative also certainly seems applicable.