The initial groans from the audience during a Saturday Night Live skit when comedian Pete Davidson likened people who “support the Catholic Church” to R. Kelly fans were just a taste of the reaction this skit would receive from some Catholic officials.
In the NBC show’s ‘Weekend Update’ segment on 9th March, Davidson’s link of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals with the R&B singer now facing charges of criminal sex abuse prompted calls for an apology from the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, and the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
In the skit, Davidson described Kelly as “a monster” who should “go to jail forever,” before adding: “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.”
Davidson, who was raised Catholic and attended two New York Catholic high schools and a Catholic college in Brooklyn, briefly, went on to say that when his mother told him she was going to Mass, he told her he was going to “listen to the Ignition remix,” one of Kelly’s songs. Davidson’s mother is Catholic. His father, a firefighter who lost his life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was Jewish.
In an 11th March statement, the Brooklyn Diocese – adjacent to the New York Archdiocese where the show is taped, in New York City’s Comcast Building – demanded “an immediate public apology from Saturday Night Live and NBC” for the “disgraceful and offensive skit.”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, based in New York, similarly took offence at Davidson’s remarks, saying that the comedian “libelled all priests.”
Donohue said the comedian wasn’t comparing Kelly to an alleged predatory priest but to “the entire Catholic clergy.”
“His bigoted remark deserves to be condemned by everyone,” he added.
He also said the comment didn’t warrant Davidson’s firing, which he said would be a “drastic action.”
“Because we are not aware of any anti-Catholic comments that Davidson has previously made, we are not calling for his dismissal. But executives at NBC need to talk to him without delay. If he strikes again, our response will be different,” he said.
Picture: R. Kelly, left, and Pete Davidson are seen in this composite photo. During a recent Saturday Night Live skit Davidson said that supporters of the Catholic Church are like R. Kelly fans, linking the Church’s global sex abuse crisis to the R&B singer facing charges of criminal sex abuse of minors. (CNS photo/Kamil Krzaczynski and Danny Moloshok, Reuters).