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Don't Boycott Must See TV, Just Stop Watching

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
©Catholic Online 2005

The current controversy over the NBC sitcom Committed and the storyline that mocked the Eucharist brings to light the need for Catholics and all Christians to review their use of the television.

In case you have not heard, The Catholic League of Religious and Civil Rights issued a statement Friday against NBC television. The press release decries the airing of an anti-Catholic portrayal of the Sacrament of the Eucharist February 22nd. Citing a deluge of complaints to a level that has not been seen for quite some time, Catholic League president William Donahue has stated that "the Anger is Visceral and Intense".

"To say that Catholics are angry about this show would be an understatement" The head of the New York Based Catholic League stated. "The complaints have come from bishops, college chaplains, pastors and the laity, and they have come from all over the country. With good reason: NBC has made a direct frontal assault on Roman Catholicism, choosing to mock, trivialize and ridicule the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ."

The program is from the comedy series Commmitted. The episode entitled "The Statue Guy " and subtitled "Thy Will Be Done", featured two characters, one a Protestant and another a Jew, who receive communion accidentally, then they tried to get rid of the Eucharist using various methods such as putting it on a cracker tray and eventually, what they believe to be the host, down a toilet. The Eucharist is the holiest sacrament of the Church. Catholics believe it to be the Body and Blood of Christ.

This comes amidst a time where attacks on Catholics in the media and in the real world have been growing lately. It is generally believed among Catholics that anti-Catholic bashing is the only acceptable prejudice in the United States. Recently in Pembroke, MA a nineteen year old man burned a cross in front of a Catholic parish.

These actions demonstrate that Catholics are so rejected in this country that the holiest element of our faith is denigrated and mocked and dismissed out of hand. Say nothing about it and that "joke" will appear on other TV shows everyday.

What have we come to when charity and respect for others is considered a taboo on television while "in your face" alleged comedy is what defines us as Americans? We may not need to take any action, but understand that a Catholic has no business watching most of what passes for entertainment on television.

How can one find Christ when we laugh at him and his sacrifice being mocked not only for entertainment but also for profit? How about when we dismiss this out of hand as the price of doing business? What will we say to Christ at the end of our lives when we have to admit, he was mocked and we did nothing? Maybe we did not even change the channel.

The whole episode may not be all that bad in the long run, if NBC finds that no Catholics were watching. Of course, that is provided that Catholics were so filled with Christ that they were living their faith instead of wasting time watching this television program or any other ersatz form of entertainment as is a sitcom, drama or reality program on TV. Such a waste of time may very well be a sin.

NBC may have to confront the issue of Catholics prepared to no longer do interviews on that or any sister network, if there is a Catholic boycott. Maybe it is time not to boycott NBC, but to simply realize that Catholics indeed all Christians, have more important ways of living their faith than watching a drama, sitcom or reality program on NBC or any other network.

NBC/Universal is a unit of General Electric, a major US conglomerate and manufacturer of a range of products from defense systems to light bulbs. NBC/Universal is parent to such companies as Universal Studios and Telemundo, a spanish language broadcaster based in Hialeah, FL. It is also parent to the NBC networks of NBC, MSNBC, CNBC.

The network does not have a history of anti-Catholicism. In one of the network's most embarrassing moments Irish singer Sinead O'Connor tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II in October of 1992 on Saturday Night Live. The spontaneous action caught network staff by surprise.

NBC also holds the contract for broadcasts of the PBR which may be the only sport that begins with a prayer and claims many people of faith in its ranks and its fan base, myself included. It also broadcasts NASCAR which likewise is known as having a large fan base many who hold traditional values. So clearly, NBC has programing that is not anti-Catholic.

However, let's face it, isn't it time we all take a look at our TV habits. The saddest part of this program Committed is that people were watching it because they felt they had nothing better to do. Try explaining that on the day of judgement when the Lord is present to us in those around us everyday. "When I was hungry to see you joyfully alive in your faith, you were watching some stupid sitcom on TV."

NBC did not respond to requests for comment.


Catholicism Anew  MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 542-5682



Television, NBC, Eucharist

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