As the Vatican defends against lawsuits and launches a public relations blitz to defend the Pope, editorial cartoons may be the most visible, powerful and damning criticism the church faces. The cartoon floodgates have opened as editorial cartoonists around the world have released a deluge of Pope bashing cartoons.

By an odd coincidence, the Catholic Church has a strong presence in countries that happen to have a strong tradition of cartooning and the passionate anger of cartoonists who were raised in the church has been on display recently like never before.

Here is a selection of church scandal cartoons from around the globe.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Daryl’s cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading now. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.