In these instances, we have writing in which the context is Catholic, but the content is contrary to Catholic teaching peddled as sophisticated and acceptable behavior. On a non-sectarian program, these scenes wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Audiences are accustomed to viewing sexual encounters as the usual fare on television. In this context, the deception is glaring.
Ms. O’Connor, who graduated from St. Agnes High School, College Point, NY, has publicly stated that she wants to show Catholicism in a positive light. Given these examples, how would she portray the faith in a negative light? Who made the decision to include these scenes in the programs? Were they essential to the integrity of the show? Was she coerced into spicing up the episodes against her better judgment?
October 10th: “Burning Bridges”
The October 10th episode both misrepresented and caricatured the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
When Commissioner Reagan attempts to protect one of his gay officers from possible harm, a reporter asks him, “How do you line up your anti-gay faith with your role as an equal-opportunity employer?”
To which Commissioner Reagan demurs without correcting the reporter’s error: “What my men and women do in private is their own business.”
“So you only condemn homosexuality on Sunday?” the reporter illogically queries. Again, the Commissioner fails to set the record straight on Catholic teaching and feebly responds: “Well, I do believe the Church is a little behind the times on this. But then, I still miss the Latin Mass. Next question.”
Even Cardinal Brennan, the prelate debuting in Season 5, can’t seem to articulate the Church’s teaching. The scene closes without resolution. Frank will not rescind his public statement, and the entire dialogue casts the Catholic Church in an unattractive light. The content of the script is erroneous.
Cardinal Brennan, presumably the prelate of New York, is depicted as a haughty clergyman who, in a private meeting with Frank, his former classmate, extends his hand so that Frank may kiss his ring. This portrayal of the Cardinal, though fictional, is historically inaccurate. The Cardinals of New York do not fit this description. For many years, they have enjoyed warm relations with New York City officials. The depiction in this episode, intended to cast the Church in a negative light, is odious. The writers seem determined to paint Cardinal Brennan as an overbearing prelate—at least up to the present.
Last but not least, we come to Sister Mary. In “Burning Bridges,” Frank must tell her as the principal of St. Dominic’s, the school he attended as a boy that he could not help her cause. He has failed in convincing the Cardinal to keep the school open. He perceives this as retaliation for not rescinding his remarks on homosexuality. And Sister Mary’s response? She implies that she lived in a lesbian lifestyle before her entrance into religion—she kissed her girlfriend goodbye the day before entering the convent. Why this non-sequitur from this glib, garrulous woman? Is her brazenness aimed at shocking an official who is not easily shocked? Cui bono!
(Column continues below)
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Sister Mary feels compelled to add: “There’s not a day I regret answering Our Lord’s call or a day when I’m ashamed of who I was before. So thank you.”
We are relieved to have this assurance!
For the Writers of “Blue Bloods”
In all these instances, the writers of “Blue Bloods” have tried to be savvy and sophisticated in matters of Catholic faith. They are neither. Their goal has been to embarrass the Church, their means, puerile and pedestrian.
The Catholic faith proposes a rich hierarchy of teaching rooted in the dignity of the human person and the family, and the sanctity of life. Reason supports faith. The Church seeks to speak meaningfully to today’s men and women but in a way that never loses sight of their dignity and respect for each other and for their final destiny. Would the scenes in question have taken away from the enjoyment of the programs presented?
The writers of “Blue Bloods” owe viewers of the program the truth when depicting all matters Catholic—simply Catholic. They have an ethical obligation to avoid cute, slippery deception and instead present the unvarnished truth about Catholicism. If Mr. Selleck is the mortar holding the structure of “Blue Bloods” together, then the program also needs a Catholic theologian to hold together a Catholic script to prevent it from falling into the gutter.