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JAN
24
3 YEARS

Catholic League Targets Jay Leno for Mocking the Church's Teachings (Video)

The watchdog group has mounted a campaign against the late night host for comments he made during Monday's "Tonight Show."

Jay Leno
Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Jay Leno is on a roll with insulting religious groups. The fallout from jokes regarding a Sikh holy site are still rolling in and now a Catholic group is taking offense to a gag from Monday’s Tonight Show monologue.

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Apparently, the host was joking about Los Angeles area Bishop Gabino Zavala who resigned from his position after confessing that he had fathered two children.

“I thought bishops could only move diagonally,” Leno joked with accompanying hand movements to illustrate his point. “I didn’t know they could move up and down.”

“Isn’t it amazing the bishop of L.A. confessed to fathering two children?” Leno also says. “But, hey, he didn’t use birth control, so at least he followed the church rules. Yah gotta give him credit for that.”

Well, the New York-based Catholic League took offense to the thinly veiled reference to sexual assaults by Catholic priests on children and the religion’s stand on birth control.

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“There are those who will say, sure, Leno was tough on the bishop, but what do you expect from a late night talk show host?” Catholic League President Bill Donohue says in a press release. “After all, had there been no wrongdoing, there would have been no wise crack. This view is seriously mistaken.”

It points out that the comedian would never insult Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish rabbis (who it asserts has the most serious cases of sexual abuse against minors) or gay people (who it also asserts has a greater chance of contracting HIV/AIDS than the rest of the population). Donohue qualifies its use of the two groups as examples saying that the League considers jokes against them equally as offensive to those about Catholics.

“But if there is one wayward Catholic clergyman,” Donohoe’s statement continues. “It’s not only acceptable to ridicule him, it’s okay to mock the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The League has mounted a campaign, which asks viewers to contact NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke to register their complaints over the comments. NBC did not immediately return THR's request for comment. Also for the record, Monday's episode was a rerun of a Jan. 5 episode.

The League has most recently targeted NBC’s new midseason comedy Are You There, Chelsea? for its themes of drinking and sex, and for what they feel is a negative portrayal of Chelsea’s Christian sister (actually played by Chelsea Handler).

Watch Leno's gag in question below at about 3:10 in.

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro