A new show pits wayward priests against
one another in a smorgasbord of physical and psychological temptation.
Vatican City cries foul.
HOLLYWOOD —-- Catholic priests accused of sexual molestation
or other forms of moral corruption will now have a chance to redeem
themselves before a worldwide TV audience.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation's premise is to throw the book at
the priests —-- not the Good Book, but the book of temptations.
Whoever cracks, loses; whoever can resist their deepest carnal
desires wins the reward money.
"It'll ultimately be a feel-good
story about morality winning out over temptation."
—-- Dean Wardstein,
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
"Actually, we were going to call it Cardinal Sins,"
said producer Dean Wardstein, "but the guys who had a history
of misbehaving —-- the one's we wanted —-- mostly
weren't cardinals at all. Ultimately, contrary to what critics
of the show are saying, it'll be a feel-good story about morality
winning out over temptation."
In one episode, the priests mudwrestle with hookers while being monitored via a wireless penile plethysmograph (a device which measures erectile excitement). Whoever can keep their excitement in check passes on to the next stage of competition — in which priests must eat the most edible panties off writhing lapdancers without actually touching them. In either case, whoever's plethysmograph numbers go off the chart are deemed unfit and must pack up and head back to their archdiocese.
Other episodes test homosexual tendencies. The priests, surrounded by altar boys wearing nothing but nipple rings and leather tutus, must perform the Eucharist without brushing up against any of the boys. Judges watch closely for any inappropriate touching, and raise a red flag when it occurs. Three flags and you're out!
In yet another episode, the priests are forced to sit on one side of a confession booth and hear "utterly filthy confessions" coming from the other side. According to producer Wardstein, "whoever opens up the slot to see what's going on is forced to eat a can of earthworms and is promptly yanked from the competition."
Audience reaction has been mixed. One young viewer, anonymously
polled, commented, "Watching these old guys get all hot and
bothered was pretty cool —-- but the thought that he's actually
sporting a boner was disgusting." A female viewer who claimed
to be a victim of priestly abuse admitted, "I puked my guts
out. The bastards." It wasn't clear whether she was referring
to the show's producers or the priests.
The Vatican's response was not exactly glowing, but was nonetheless diplomatic and restrained An official press release stated simply that "If God had wanted us to watch trashy, unscripted reality TV shows, he wouldn't have created actors in the first place."