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CATHOLIC PAPER IN L.A. DENOUNCES BOYCOTT, DEFENDS 'NOTHING SACRED'

"Nothing Sacred," the controversial ABC-TV series about a self-doubting priest, has won unlikely support from the newspaper of the nation's largest Catholic archdiocese.

In an editorial published Friday, the Tidings said the show "should be allowed to develop before anyone passes final judgment." The newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles also condemned a boycott campaign by an independent Catholic group.

"Nothing Sacred" features a priest ambivalent about subjects such as abortion and celibacy. Only three episodes have aired so far.

The New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a conservative watchdog group that claims to defend the church from "slanderous assaults" by the media, has led a boycott of the show's sponsors. Chrysler-Plymouth and American Honda Motors on Friday became the 14th and 15th sponsors to withdraw ads from the program.

The newspaper of the Philadelphia archdiocese also has urged a boycott.

The Tidings editorial said the boycott's supporters include a "right-wing fringe (Catholic) group" and a fundamentalist Protestant organization, the American Family Association.

Despite some flaws, the show "is a television drama; it is not the catechism of the Catholic Church," the editorial said.

The show was co-created by the Rev. Bill Cain, a Jesuit priest who continues as a writer and producer. He uses the name Paul Leland in the show's credits.

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