The plot of a network television drama concerns attempts to cover up proof that the Vatican cooperated with Hitler during World War II. Catholic priests are shown committing murders, and just to top things off Satan himself turns up as a high-ranking papal adviser. Sure to spark an explosive controversy, right?

Wrong. The Tuesday, July 10 episode of the TNT show "Witchblade" contained all these elements and seems to have drawn no notice. In the "Witchblade" episode, secret documents reveal that Pope Pius XII wrote to Hitler promising to stay quiet about the Holocaust--a fictional contention that not even Pius' worst critics (for example, the author of the recent book "Hitler's Pope") would take seriously. A good priest discovers the shocking truth; an evil priest murders him to keep him quiet. Satan shows up in a collar, as a papal adviser, and sets up an innocent man to take the fall for the murder. Then Satan attacks the policewoman who is about to break the case; only her magical "witchblade," an ancient object, saves her. For good measure, numerous scenes show backdrops of Catholic churches, crucifixes, and Catholic saints as evil things are done by the evil papists.

Maybe this show drew no protest because TNT ratings aren't high. Maybe it drew no reaction because "Witchblade" is science fiction, and people expect science fiction to be absurd. But the anti-Catholic tone of the episode was palpable--in one of the subplots, the policewoman's Irish love interest talked about how, as a child, he had been psychologically abused by a priest.

TNT is a mega-corporate network, owned by the same media alliance that encompasses Ted Turner, CNN, AOL, the Time magazine empire, and, seemingly, everything except Luxembourg. Imagine if Turner-CNN-AOL-Time had done a TV show, even a sci-fi show, in which Jewish bankers secretly ruled the world, Satan was a Jewish corporate executive, and murders were committed by rabbis. There would be general outrage.

Television producers should, of course, be free to film shows that intensely criticize Catholicism or any other faith. But the "Witchblade" episode stepped over the line into anti-Catholic bias, and the silence is eerie.

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