NOTHING NEW ABOUT THE LATEST “NOTHING SACRED”

Catalyst December 1997

William Donohue offered the following comments on the Nov. 6 episode of the ABC show, “Nothing Sacred”:

“Most of the Catholic League’s criticisms of ‘Nothing Sacred’ have focused on the lead character, Fr. Ray. Our central complaint has been the positive spin that has been put on this dissenting priest and the negative spin that has been put on Catholics loyal to Church teachings. Now it appears that Fr. Ray is being rehabilitated. What hasn’t changed, however, is the bottom line of the show: Fr. Ray is simply passing his political torch to others.

“The interaction between Fr. Eric and a young seminarian, Nathan, demonstrates what’s happening. Fr. Eric, the show’s ‘traditionalist,’ is busy preaching tolerance to a young seminarian, Nathan. Labeled as ‘rigid,’ Nathan proves his rigidity by defending the teachings of the Catholic Church. To the rescue is Fr. Eric, the enlightened priest who brandishes his enlightenment by questioning the wisdom of Church teachings. Anyone with an I.Q. over 10 gets the message.

“Though Fr. Eric rightly refuses Holy Communion to a protesting non-Catholic, he cannot do so without expressing second thoughts. ‘If following a rule means shutting someone out,’ he says, ‘then maybe it’s time to rethink the rule.’ This triumph of popularity over principal, stated in the language of compassion and inclusion, is what drives the show. It sets in motion the show’s theses: the Church must accept the will of dissidents or pay the price of irrelevancy. Though social science data uniformly prove the opposite, i.e., the more trendy the religion the less adherents it has, none of this seems to matter.

“When Fr. Eric speaks of the disillusionment that priests encounter, and the need to ‘minister in the present,’ he shows the influence of Fr. Ray. No wonder he defends his unorthodox mentor by saying that ‘his heart is in the right place.’ It’s a shame his head isn’t.”

William Donohue offered the following comments on the November 13 episode of the ABC show, “Nothing Sacred”:

“Though new messengers are evident on ‘Nothing Sacred,’ it’s the same old message. Instead of having Fr. Ray buck the Church, we now have Sister Mo. The exchanges she had with Rachel, the brazenly unrepentant young woman who continues to work at the church after having her abortion, were the high point of the show.

“Rachel is welcome by Fr. Ray and Sister Mo precisely because they themselves are incapable of defending the Church’s teachings on sexuality. Moreover, it was striking to hear how upset Mo was when Rachel broached the subject of excommunication. She would prefer her not to dwell on such ‘oppressive’ Church teachings and simply get on with her life.

“As always, this show depicts those who oppose the Church’s teachings as victims. Poor Rachel admits that though she never had any interest in going to Communion before she had her abortion, now that she wants to go, she can’t. She can’t because she won’t go to Confession: to do that, she would have to admit that what she did was wrong, and that is not something she is prepared to do. No matter, the scene portrays the Church as the ogre, thus affording Rachel victim status.

“It was touching to hear Rachel ask Mo if she would hear her confession. Given her earlier experience with Fr. Ray, it’s hard to blame her for shopping around, even if Mo has no more authority to attend to the sacraments than does the resident atheist, Sidney. In fairness, Rachel was on to something when she suggested to Mo that they start their own church. This seems to us just right. One suggestion—they should take the dysfunctional, depressed and doubting priests with them.”


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Written by Bill