Dr. Who and the Vatican

Dr. Who and the Vatican May 21, 2017

Last night’s Dr. Who episode, “Extremis,” presented some vicious media stereotypes of Catholicism… well, no, not really.

In one scene, the Dr.’s companion Bill (female) is attempting to seduce Penny, a girl she has just met. She tries to explain that there is no reason for her friend to feel guilty about such sexual matters, or have issues with conscience, and is clearly making some impact. Unfortunately, the Doctor himself is in the middle of some transactions with the Pope, and is transporting him via the TARDIS. The Pope then appears in the middle of the seduction scene, terrifying Penny and making her run out of the apartment. Catholic guilt stands manifested before her.

As Bill remarks, “Doctor, here’s a tip. When I’m on a date, when that rare and special thing happens in my real life, do not, do not under any circumstances put The Pope in my bedroom!”

The whole scene is riotously funny.

Someone watching the scene, and the whole episode, might form some stereotypes of Catholicism, notably that:

-The Pope in this show (vaguely modeled on John XXIII, but with a hint of Francis), is a decent, concerned man, although he does get a little flustered by the paradoxes of time travel. Don’t we all? The current Pope has had his impact in humanizing the image of his office.

-His entourage, senior prelates and cardinals, is an admirably mixed bunch in terms of race and national origin, with Africans well represented.

-Penny is clearly from a Catholic background, and is thus startled by the image of the Pope and prelates appearing before here. We are surely meant to imagine years of Catholic school. When depicting a Catholic, the show chooses a woman, and one of African/British origin (Ronke Adekoluejo). She is not intended to be “a black Catholic” but “a Catholic.” Time was when all generic Catholics were Irish, or Polish, or Italian, and white, but we live in a radically different demographic.

A very racially diverse church, made up of regular human beings, with believers from all races, nations, and colors …. We certainly would not want a slander like that to get around.




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