A Roman Catholic watchdog group accused the ABC television network Thursday of a "pattern of attacks" highlighted by the broadcast last week of a comedy program that it called "the most anti-Catholic television show ever."
At a news conference before its 25th anniversary dinner at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan on Thursday night, the group, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, denounced the April 7 episode of "That's Life."League president William Donohue said the program's depictions of the Holy Eucharist, the Crucifixion of Christ, the sacrament of penance and other doctrines of the church were tasteless and sacrilegious and amounted to "a direct assault" on the church. The league is an association of lay Catholics.
In the show, the main character, a lapsed Catholic, begins taking his nephew to church, leading to objections from the boy's mother about some of the church's positions on abortion and homosexuality. The boy's interest in the church seems to center mainly on the Crucifixion.
ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Corp., issued a statement Thursday noting that it had already canceled the series before the April 7 episode appeared because of weak audience ratings. "It was never the intent of the network, the studio, or the production team to offend any religious denomination with the last episode," the statement said.
But Donohue said the episode was part of a pattern of anti-Catholic programming by the network. "They wouldn't do it to Jews; they wouldn't do it to African-Americans; they wouldn't do it to gays. But somehow they think they can have open season on Catholics."