The November 2 episode of the Fox TV show, “Ally McBeal,” featured a nun who sued the Church because she was dismissed for breaking her vow of celibacy. Throughout the show, repeated attacks were made on Catholic sacraments, teachings and practices. Here is a sample of the lines that were voiced.
Ally: “Nuns are not supposed to have sex except with other nuns.”
Nun: “A priest has sex with a boy, he gets transferred. Me they…At least my lover was of legal age for God’s sake.”
Female Colleague: “Maybe I can talk them into rehiring her. I’m very good at flirting with clergy. At Communion, I always got the extra wafer.”
Nun: “If the sex is great, you can’t be a nun.”
Ally (in confessional): “I went to bed with a guy, partly because he had a uh, uh…It was uh big, big. God, I slept with it…him.”
Priest: “I often hear that size doesn’t matter. How was it?”
Ally: “It was great, unbelievable. You have no idea. I mean, I assume you don’t. It was amazing. Am I forgiven?”
The Catholic League wasted no time issuing the following statement:
“The bigots are at work again. On the September 28 episode of ‘Ally McBeal,’ a cheap shot about priest pedophilia was made. That subject returns this week, only with much more in the way of offense. Now we have Father O’Reilly videotaping confessions about sex for his documentary, ‘World’s Naughtiest Confessions.’ And, of course, we have nuns that are degraded and sexual comments that are designed to disparage.
“We will take our case to Fox, which has already been inundated with complaints. Make no mistake: all of this—every bit of it—is intentional.”
Our news release led to a tidal wave of media interest, hitting both the electronic and print media around the country; even international sources picked up the story. Fortunately, there was a happy ending.
The immediate response from the league was to ask Fox’s Department of Standards whether there were any future shows of “Ally McBeal” that dealt with Catholicism and, if so, whether the content could be disclosed at this time. We were assured that no such shows were planned and, furthermore, that “it won’t happen again.” We plan to hold them to that.
There was one report that said Fox didn’t make these concessions. Perhaps this was a face-saving effort. If not, we’ll do battle again.