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Why The Catholic League No Longer Praises Blue Bloods

In one corner, you have Blue Bloods, CBS's family police drama with 11 seasons under its belt and a subtle conservative streak that you can just make out if you squint at the way that the main characters are a bunch of cops named Reagan. In the other, you have the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, an organization with a stated mission "to safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened." On paper, these two should taste great together, if the flavors involved are pleasing to your palate. And they did, for a while — the Catholic League had plenty of positive opinions to share about Blue Bloods and its Irish Catholic protagonists. The organization's president, Bill Donohue, referred to the series as one of the only current television programs displaying a willingness "to treat Catholicism fairly" in a 2011 blog post.

But then came the dark times; a 2014 episode of Blue Bloods boiled Bill's blood. By his reckoning, the offices of the Catholic League were "bombarded with complaints" from concerned viewers. Donohue lamented what he interpreted as a "pivot" on the part of the writers away from the good and faithful viewers who had previously held the program in such high esteem.

Bad blood with Blue Bloods?

In the offending episode, appropriately titled "Burning Bridges," Tom Selleck's character, Frank Reagan, is confronted about the Catholic Church's stance on homosexual relationships during a press conference. Frank, a practicing Catholic, admits "Well, I do believe the Church is a little behind the times on this, but then, I still miss the Latin Mass, so." Later in the episode, Frank has a heated discussion about his comments with a Cardinal, stating "I do believe the Church is backwards on this. And of all the stands to hold onto, in the midst of the scandals of the past decades..." Also, the story features a lesbian nun.

Donohue ruminated on the episode in a blog post titled "Is Blue Bloods Committing Suicide?" "The Bible is 'anti-gay,'" he wrote. "That is the logical conclusion that unfolds in this episode. The show also misrepresents the sexual abuse scandal: almost all the molesting priests were practicing homosexuals. Moreover, the scandal ended in the mid-1980s, thus showing how far behind the times the show's writers are. "The audience for Blue Bloods has been carefully cultivated, so the price tag for alienating its base is high," Donohoe wrote. "Time will tell."

Time did tell, and Blue Bloods remains on the air seven years later. Donohue, meanwhile, remains a controversial figure after making assertions like "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular" and "It is too bad that (Charlie Hebdo chief editor Stephane Charbonnier) didn't understand the role he played in his tragic death."