I am completely intrigued by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and their new coloring book and comic book. I guess it is good that they are willing to face the fact that priests abused thousands of innocent children. I guess this attempt to remedy the situation just seems very oblique. It's a glancing blow at a huge elephant in the room and seems like it would raise more questions in the mind of a bright young child than it would answer.

The coloring book is easily the most interesting to deconstruct.
To me the scene is fraught with strange images. The priests expression is so leering, and why is he facing the door like that. It looks to me like he's trying to convince the angel, "It's OK, I'll just shut the door for a minute or two". The little boys eyes are not the wide open innocent eyes of a boy excited to be an alter boy. The tight smile and wide open eyes lead me to think he is positively terrified, like he's rushing to put his robe on and get the hell out of there. If the catholic church was trying to paint priests in a good light in this picture they failed. Maybe my knowledge of their past informs my interpretation of the image. What do you think?

The comic book is odd in it's own right. Here is the most pertinent image from the comic followed by my interpretation.

Any child old enough to read this knows about the child abuse scandal. Rather than face the issue head on they ignore it. Teenagers know when they are being misled or fed a line of bull and I think most will see right through this one. Also, anyone who knows anything about the scandal will immediately assume that the main character (The dark haired boy) has been abused by a priest. Unfortunately the dialog in the center of the page is the only direct reference to his abuse. The church missed the opportunity to confront the problem head on and correct it. Instead they obliquely reference it in the context of abuse by "a bad man from the community".

The church needs to realize that children aren't stupid. They also need to realize that they have a golden opportunity to both address the issue directly and to apologize in a medium that is conducive to children. I'm not saying that the coloring book should be a picture of a a molesting priest with a red slashed circle around him. In fact the coloring book is the most direct statement they make. The coloring book just needs to be changed to appear less, well, twisted.

They really should have reworked the comic book plot to directly address the priest issue, even if it wasn't the main plot point. At least address it as a sidelight and a view into the past of the main character.

Instead the church is perpetuating a continuum of the last couple millennia and I'm sure in a hundred years there will be another scandal. C'est la vie.