How 'Blue Bloods' Angered the Catholic League With Just One Episode

Blue Bloods is the one police drama that does its best not to offend viewers, but in 2014, the show did offend Bill Donohue, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights CEO. At the time, Donohue claimed his group was "bombarded with complaints" from viewers because of the 2014 episode "Burning Bridges," in which Tom Selleck's Commissioner Frank Reagan criticized the Catholic Church for its stance on homosexuality. Donohue still makes headlines for his rhetoric, recently voicing support for the Vatican after the Catholic Church said it would not bless same-sex unions.

When Blue Bloods returned for a second season in September 2011, Donohue praised the series, since the Reagan family is Catholic. He called the series one of the "few TV Shows on the broadcast networks to treat Catholicism fairly" and referred to it as a "family-oriented" program. However, "Burning Bridges" caused him to completely reverse his view. The episode featured a character who was a lesbian nun and included a speech from Frank, in which he called the Catholic Church "behind the times" on homosexuality. "I do believe the Church is backward on this," Frank said in the episode. "And of all the stands to hold onto. In the midst of the scandals of the past decade."

Donohue accused the show's writers of being "behind the times" and claimed the episode "misrepresents the sexual abuse scandal." He claimed his office was "bombarded with complaints" after the episode aired. "Is CBS committing suicide? The audience for Blue Bloods has been carefully cultivated, so the price tag for alienating its base is high," Donohue wrote. "Time will tell."

Of course, Blue Bloods is still on the air in 2021. It is in the middle of Season 11 and is showing no signs of slowing down. The show continues to highlight the Reagans' religion. In February 2019, the Archdiocese of Atlanta's Georgia Bulletin published an essay praising the show. "That Blue Bloods is able to capture this essence of both the city as a place and a state of mind, while also presenting the Catholic faith and Catholic family values with compassion and realism, is a testament to the empathy its cast and staff have for special and lasting traditions," David A. King wrote in a commentary for the outlet.

Meanwhile, Donohue continues to make headlines for the strongly-worded statements he issues through the conservative Catholic League. Just this week, he praised the Vatican after it said the Catholic Church could not bless a same-sex marriage. "The Vatican left nothing on the table. The door has been slammed shut on the gay agenda," Donohue wrote, reports the Associated Press. Donahue has not issued a statement on Blue Bloods since 2014.