Catholic Group Angry Over `Ally'

By DAVID BAUDER AP Television Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Catholic activists are furious over this week's ``Ally McBeal'' episode that included jokes about nuns having sex and a priest videotaping off-color confessions.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights wrote to the Fox network's chief executive for broadcasting standards on Wednesday, saying it was concerned about a ``clear and intentional pattern of Catholic bashing'' on the hit series.

Officials of Fox and David E. Kelley Productions, which makes the program, wouldn't comment.

Monday's show featured a nun who sued the Catholic Church after being dismissed for breaking her vow of celibacy. At one point, Ally McBeal jokes that ``nuns are not supposed to have sex except with other nuns.''

The nun said at one point: ``A priest has sex with a boy, he gets transferred. ... At least my lover was of legal age.''

At another point, a priest videotapes confessions about sex for a documentary, ``World's Naughtiest Confessions.''

``I can't imagine anyone getting away with saying this if it were any other religious group,'' said Gregory Coiro, a priest with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who acted as a script consultant for ABC last year for ``Nothing Sacred,'' a short-lived series about an inner-city priest.

Coiro called the humor ``insulting and very demeaning.''

The New York-based Catholic League said it follows a Sept. 28 episode where a Protestant minister tells a lawyer about his affair with a parish worker and said, ``I realize that doesn't make me an altar boy.'' The lawyer responds: ``If you were an altar boy, you'd be with a priest.''

The Catholic League said Fox had been ``inundated'' with complaints about the show. Fox spokesman Jonathan Hogan said he wasn't aware of any phone calls of complaint.

One Fox executive who wouldn't talk publicly about the show noted that it was broadly satirical and recently included a story line about a frog on life support. The segment about the priest videotaping confessions also poked fun at Fox when ``World's Naughtiest Confessions'' landed a place on the network's schedule.

Fox has taken heat for scheduling reality shows like ``World's Most Dangerous Animals.''