Surprisingly, Catholic League President Bill Donohue has yet to comment on this, but last night’s episode of _Bones_ contained an attack on Catholicism that was really uncalled for and purely malicious. Donohue has criticized the show before, but usually because of comments made by Temperance Brennan, who is an avowed atheist, and a classic example of “TV Asperger’s,” so the comments she’s made in past episodes could be assigned to her atheism/lack of understanding of human nature, and were often contextually treated as such. Agent Seeley Booth is allegedly Catholic (though he has an out of wedlock child and has been shacking up most of this season) and has usually made some defense of his faith on those occasions, however inadequate. There was the really good episode I blogged about a couple seasons ago, where Booth encountered the spirit of an old friend, but then that was “explained away” by a brain tumor in the season finale (even though there were several things in the episode which clearly indicated it could not have been an hallucination).
That said, what happened last night was gratuitous. The victim in the episode was a cable “documentary” host who went around “debunking myths.” The body gave the appearance of having been eaten by a cryptid known as the “chupacabra,” a three-toothed creature that supposedly eats hearts and drinks blood. The guy was waiting in the woods with a camera and a goat (the alleged chupacabra’s favorite food), in an area that supposedly had chupacabra sightings.
Anyway, in the course of the episode, they show some samples of the guy’s TV show. The sample they show of him at work is a bunch of Hispanic people around a statue of Jesus, and he’s shouting at them that the allegedly miraculous statue is a fraud, that their priest deceived them, and “your priest has been lying to you about everything,” and it shows a hidden camera video of a Catholic priest pouring water into the top of the statue to make it appear to “weep.”
There is no comment about the scene, and weeping statues in Catholicism are thus equated with chupacabras, werewolves, and other _X-Files_ phenomena. . . . The pure gratuity of the scene is the kind of thing that makes it really offensive in my book. It’s one thing when an attack on the Church at least has some bearing in reality and is relevant to the context of the story, but when it’s just a needless jab, and so subtle, I find that really offensive.
1) “Weeping statues” and such are in no way an essential or even common part of Catholicism. Indeed, those are the kinds of sensationalistic phenomena the Church generally looks askance at.
2) The scene implies that the Church doesn’t investigate such matters, which she does through local bishops, and the Church very quickly rules out things like fraud and condensation, etc. Yes, many laity often ignore the Church’s guidance or even orders on these subjects, but that is not a statement about Catholicism, and this was nowhere indicated in the show.