A funny thing happened on CBS’s “The Good Wife” last night. David Hyde Pierce, who plays a straight arrow candidate for district attorney running against lead Alicia Florrick (Juliana Margulies), revealed that the reason he hasn’t remarried is not because he’s gay, as the rumor mill was suggesting, but because, “I’m a Jesuit.”
Now I have to say, my first reaction was, “Holy cow, are they pulling a Princess Juana?” Which now that I’m writing it sounds a lot weirder than it did in my head.
For Jesuit nerds, a quick story: once upon a time, in the relatively early days of the Jesuits, there was a Princess named Juana, who wanted to be a Jesuit. And we didn’t take women, but hello, Princess. So we said yes, but under the condition that it was kept a secret. So for a time she was our super-secret ninja stealth Jesuit.
In point of fact, “The Good Wife” was not suggesting David Hyde Pierce’s character Frank Prady was a secret priest who intended to prosecute criminals for Jesus±though the idea of a DA who puts you away and then comes to hear your confession strikes me as SO MUCH FUN. #LetsDoThis #DA4Xt #ThreeStrikesAndYoureSaved
No, I think they thought “Jesuit” meant “good Catholic.” Here’s his speech: “I’m not gay. I’m a Jesuit. I never remarried, because you only get married once. To remarry is to commit adultery.”
The Jesuit flub aside, it’s a pretty loaded couple sentences, isn’t it? In fact, I think I’m relieved they made the mistake they did, because had they said “good/faithful Catholic” it would have been quite painful for many Catholics watching the show, who have struggled with these very issues, and faced clergy and fellow Catholcs that have at times treated them very unkindly using exactly this kind of logic.
No Catholics today should live under the burden of feeling like remarriage in and of itself constitutes adultery. That is not at all the current teaching of our church. If anyone walked away from last night’s episode feeling otherwise—feeling judged (or for that matter justified in such a judgment)—it’s important to remember that fact. (Also, just because "The Good Wife" is a generally fantastic television show doesn't mean it always gets everything right.)
And for anyone who thinks “Jesuit” might indeed be synonymous with “good Catholic”—well first of all, a stroll along Google will help you find plenty of evidence (both true and otherwise) that we’re not!
Also, there’s this completely true story:
A Dominican, A Franciscan and a Jesuit were once all the gates of Heaven, waiting to get in. The Franciscan was ushered in first. But it was strange: St. Peter didn’t take him through the Pearly Gates, but a sort of side entrance. Nobody even noticed he got in.
Then it was the Dominican’s turn. And again, it was all sort of underwhelming. St. Peter didn’t even do it himself, he had some lower level disciple that never got named in the Bible do it instead.
And then it was the Jesuit’s turn, and not only did St. Peter let him in through the Pearly Gates, but as soon as entered the entirety of Heaven exploded in song, a rainbow of ticker tape poured out of the clouds, and a parade of Heaven’s very best—led by none other than the Virgin Mary herself—carried the Jesuit on their shoulders into his new home.
The Franciscan and the Dominican watched this, getting more and more furious by the instant. And when the Jesuit and his entourage finally vanished into the distance they turned back to St. Peter and asked him, “What gives? You let each of us in through some back door like we’re no big deal, but the Jesuit gets a parade?”
Hearing this, St. Peter’s face fell. “No offense, but we see Franciscans and Dominicans arrive here all the time. But it’s really rare for us to even see a Jesuit.”