Tag Archives: Catholic

CBS’ Blue Bloods: Dissenting in prime time

13 Oct

By Judy Roberts

OCT. 13, 2014 — For a season and a half, my husband and I were fans of the CBS television series Blue Bloods, starring Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan, head of a New York City law enforcement family.

bluebloodsWe liked, for the most part, the way the show reflected some of our Catholic practices in its portrayal of the Reagans, mixing the excitement of a cop show with a light message about the importance of family and faith.

We saw Commissioner Reagan gather each Sunday with his widowed, ex-police commissioner dad, two sons who were on the force, and his prosecutor daughter along with their kids and one spouse for a family dinner at which everyone said grace — some making the Sign of the Cross. We even saw Frank go to Confession and son, Jamie, seek solace in a church and the counsel of a priest after the death of a fellow officer.

Amid this, we noted, but were willing to overlook, story lines that suggested several adult characters, including widowed Frank, single son Jamie, and divorced daughter Erin, were engaging in occasional extra-marital sex. The married characters — detective son Danny and his wife Linda — remained faithful to each other.

Aleteia’s English edition spirituality editor, Susan E. Wills, has called the show “the most affirmingly Catholic, high-quality weekly drama in memory.” That probably says more about the dearth of good television than it does the quality of Blue Bloods, but still, for a time, the show’s good points made it worth watching and allowed us to look past its weaknesses.

Moral nosedive

Things, however, began to deteriorate last season when Erin had a little heart-to-heart with teen daughter Nikki about premarital sex. Their chat had been precipitated by Mom finding her daughter in a disheveled state of dress while supposedly studying with a male friend.

After Nikki reassures Mom that she is not having sex “yet,” Erin expresses confidence that her daughter will make a good choice. The only requirement governing that choice seems to be whether Nikki loves the guy, and she isn’t sure about that.

Although we didn’t expect Erin and Nikki to pore over the Catechism of the Catholic Church or watch a Theology of the Body DVD together, it seemed to us that Blue Bloods could have done better. Instead, Erin chooses this moment to let her daughter know she wasn’t a virgin when she married her dad, freeing the daughter to follow in Mom’s faltering footsteps.

After that episode, we decided to say, “Bye-bye, Blue Bloods,” and didn’t watch it again until a few weeks ago when one of the story lines involved Erin inviting a male colleague to spend the weekend with her while Nikki was out-of-town.

Little did we know that the show was about to take a nosedive into distortion of the Catholic faith. The Oct. 10 episode, which has unleashed a torrent of comments on the show’s Facebook page, focused on a gay cop who is “outed” when he tries to prevent a beating outside a gay bar.

In the aftermath, the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is misrepresented and the clergy caricatured. Commissioner Reagan responds to a reporter’s question about the “anti-gay” Catholic Church condemning homosexuality as a sin, not with a clarification of the statement and the teaching, but with “Well, I do believe that the Church is a little behind the times on this.” In a curious non sequitur, he adds, “But then I still miss the Latin Mass.”

Later, the commissioner is shown kissing a cardinal’s ring after dining with the cleric in an opulent setting, advancing the stereotype of Church leaders as rich, pompous and out of touch. Finally, the show wraps up with a nun confessing to Frank that when she entered the convent decades ago, she had to say good-bye to her “partner.”

Viewer outrage

Fortunately, many fans have reacted strongly on Facebook by defending Catholic teaching in postings like this one: “Your episode tonight has lost you a loyal proponent because you misrepresented the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Your writers, obviously, have an agenda, and it has nothing to do with the truth.”

Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) and his family pray before a meal on the CBS series Blue Bloods.

Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) and his family pray before a meal on the CBS series Blue Bloods.

I applaud those who have defended the faith so valiantly on Facebook — as I do the friends who first told us about the series and have written to Leonard Goldberg, executive producer of Blue Bloods.

But what more can we do when our faith is presented so inaccurately — and blatantly so? Should we stop watching such shows altogether or continue to monitor them so we can speak out when they depart from the truth? Can we spend our time more profitably by reading or viewing more wholesome films and programs?

Most of us who try to hold to the truths of the faith in a decaying culture and a divided Church are weary and battle-worn these days, and it is difficult to know where to best direct our energies.

We must continue to speak out when we see or hear our faith being misrepresented, even if we don’t expect our objections to bring about change. Indeed, CBS executives are likely more pleased than distressed with the furor created by this latest episode of Blue Bloods because of the attention it has drawn to the series.

That said, we may not be able to change CBS, but we can change how we use our time. For my part, that means no longer spending an hour each week on a show that has begun conveying lies instead of truth.

Lately, I have heard two priests in two different parishes — one rural and one urban — preach about turning off the TV. One reminded us of Mother Angelica’s pronouncement of the television as “the devil’s tabernacle.”

As her description is increasingly being proven right, perhaps we would do well to employ our time in quiet or by reading or viewing content that nourishes our minds and souls. We are admonished by St. Paul in Philippians to fill our minds with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious” (Phil 4:8).

For a while, Blue Bloods entertained us with programs that contained some of these qualities. Sadly, the writers of the series seem to have sacrificed those in the interest of advancing a lie.

JUDY ROBERTS is an Ohio-based freelance writer. She is a staff writer for Legatus magazine and a correspondent for the National Catholic Register.

Make a Catholic Advent

1 Dec

You probably share my frustration. A week or so after Labor Day, you’re walking through The Home Depot or Walmart and you hear “Jingle Bells,” and as you round the corner: Christmas trees and tinsel.

advent-wreath-alt-xmas-eve-10I get it. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Wouldn’t it be great to have the Christmas feeling all year-round!? Yes… and no. All good things are worth waiting for, and Christmas is one of them.

First, let’s get the language right. We need to celebrate Advent and Christmas, not “the holidays.” The incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity is not merely a “holiday,” but rather the launch of God’s ultimate rescue plan for the human race.

Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” Adventus is the translation of the Greek parousia, which means the second coming of Christ. Advent anticipates Christ’s coming from two different perspectives: We share in the ancient longing for the Messiah’s coming, and we develop a heightened alert for his return.

advent wreathThe four weeks of Advent are a time to “prepare the way of the Lord.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “when the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (#524).

What does this mean in practical terms? December is a busy month for everyone, so prioritize. Sift out what’s important and what’s not. In doing so, you can make time to embrace this essential season. That doesn’t mean shopping online so you have more time for baking or entertainment. It means cutting out the non-essentials so you have time to pray and ponder Jesus. Go to Mass during the week. Go to Confession. Make an Advent retreat (yes, they exist). Read a spiritual book. Ponder the empty manger (keep Baby Jesus put away until Christmas).

If you keep a Catholic Advent, you can be sure that when Christmas Day arrives, your heart will be overwhelmed with thanksgiving for what God has done for us through Jesus.

Epiphany Three Kings Visiting JesusOne last thing: Christmas doesn’t end on Dec. 25. It begins. The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Be countercultural. Keep the decorations up a little longer this year. When the neighbors notice, tell them it’s still Christmas!

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of this blog and Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief. This article appeared in the December issue of Legatus magazine. It is reprinted here with permission

Mystery priest … solved!

16 Aug

Iowa-Radio-newAUGUST 16, 2013 — Patrick Novecosky, editor of this blog and editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine, was a guest on Iowa Catholic Radio in Des Moines, Iowa, this morning.

He appeared on the Iowa Catholic Radio Morning Show with Jeanne Wells, Mark Amadeo, and Jon Leonetti. They asked Novecosky about the Missouri mystery priest who appeared — seemingly out of nowhere — while emergency crews were struggling to free a young woman from a mangled car wreck on Aug. 4. The equipment needed to free the woman appeared immediately after he prayed with her, whereupon the priest seemingly vanished.

The mystery man drew speculation and coverage from Catholic and secular media. Some speculated that he was an angel, a long-dead Benedictine monk, a saint from heaven or Jesus Himself. They even went so far as to have a sketch artist draw the face of the mystery man.


Fr. Patrick Dowling

Earlier this week, however, Fr. Patrick Dowling, a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, came forward as the priest who anointed the young lady. Read his story here. He has since made the rounds, appearing on national television, including ABC-TV and EWTN. The story has captured hearts and made international headlines.

Click here to listen to the entire interview.