Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Join the clubbed: Catholics know pain of being bashed
http://www.suntimes.com/output/roeper/cst-nws-roep10.html ^ | February 10, 2004 | RICHARD ROEPER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Posted on 02/10/2004 5:20:54 AM PST by joobers

Join the clubbed: Catholics know pain of being bashed

February 10, 2004

BY RICHARD ROEPER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" won't be released until Feb. 25, but it's already one of the most controversial films in history.

For months Gibson has been showing rough cuts of the movie to religious leaders in an effort to stem mounting criticism that his interpretation of the last hours of Jesus' life will foster anti-Semitism.

I'm not sure the plan is working. Last week I received a 47-page packet from the Chicago chapter of the American Jewish Committee. Titled "The Passion: A Resource Manual," it's filled with background information, essays, biblical passages and even "talking points" about the film.

From the cover letter: "As the controversy over Mel Gibson's forthcoming film 'The Passion of the Christ' continues to escalate, [we're] taking this opportunity to provide you with the enclosed resource material on the film and the concerns of the AJC toward it. It is AJC's view, after having viewed two versions of the movie, that the Gibson film represents a reassertion of hurtful and discredited anti-Jewish elements. The film is a disturbing setback to the remarkable achievements in Christian-Jewish relations over the past 40 years . . ."

I've seen the version of "The Passion of the Christ" that will play in theaters starting on Ash Wednesday -- and I'll soon share my views on the film. In the meantime, I've been pondering some other religious-themed movies I've seen in my four years on "Ebert & Roeper."

Catholicism has been represented far more frequently than any other faith. I've probably seen more films about the Catholic Church (and movies with nuns or priests as supporting characters) than all other religions put together. Just from the last four years, I could easily put together a Catholic Film Festival -- but I don't think too many Catholics would be pleased with the entries.

Crooked priests, cruel nuns

Last year we had "The Order," a laughable thriller with Heath Ledger as a rebellious Catholic priest investigating the supposed suicide of his mentor. Turns out the elderly priest died after a ritual known as "sin eating." Peter Weller plays a ruthlessly ambitious and sinister cardinal.

Then there was "The Magdalene Sisters," an excellent but unforgiving film about the real-life Magdalene laundries in Ireland. In 1964, three young women are sentenced to a convent that is nothing more than a glorified slave labor camp. For years, the girls are subjected to abuse from nuns who are no more sympathetic than Nazi guards. Equally horrible is the priest who sexually abuses a mentally impaired young woman.

In "The Affair of the Necklace" (2002), Hilary Swank is an 18th century woman determined to restore her family's good name. She has to contend with Jonathan Pryce's Cardinal de Rohan, a lecherous, despicable schemer.

The terrific "Evelyn" (2002) tells the true story of Desmond Doyle, an impoverished single father in Ireland who fought to regain custody of his three children, who by law had been placed in Catholic orphanages. The priests and nuns treat young Evelyn and her sisters with utter cruelty.

Catholic-bashing, Part II

In "The Crime of Padre Amaro" (2002), an older priest, Father Benito, has been having an affair with a local woman for years, and he has ties to leftist guerrillas and drug peddlers. When young Father Amaro (Gael Garcia Bernal) arrives, it seems like mere days before he takes up with the 16-year-old daughter of the older priest's mistress. When the girl is impregnated, the young priest takes her to get an abortion.

Another 2002 film, "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys," stars Jodie Foster as the stone-faced, one-legged Sister Assumpta, who torments her young students and calls William Blake "a dangerous thinker." (Movie priests and nuns often rail against thought. In "The Order," a cleric says, "Knowledge is the enemy of faith.")

In the leering comedy "40 Days and 40 Nights" (2002), Josh Hartnett swears off all sexual contact for 40 days and 40 nights, and if you don't get that subtle biblical reference, Hartnett's brother is a priest, and they often meet in the confessional to gab about sex.

Antonio Banderas is a combat soldier-turned-archeologist-turned- priest in "The Body" (2001), and Olivia Williams is the Jewish archeologist who discovers a skeleton that may be the body of Jesus Christ, proving that he was a mere man. (Of course, there's smoldering tension between Banderas and Williams.) Derek Jacobi is an older priest who commits suicide.

In these movies, priests are suicidal, corrupt and/or lascivious. Nuns are heartless and sadistic.

Before you run to your keyboard: yes, I'm aware of scandals, past and present, involving the church. And yes, some of the films listed above are powerful, important works based on true stories.

But a lot of this stuff is just exploitative garbage. And no other religious group gets bashed with such frequency. Can you imagine a similar number of films with Jewish leaders playing villains and moral weaklings?

Me neither.

http://www.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/print.cgi

http://www.suntimes.com/output/roeper/cst-nws-roep10.html

E-mail: rroeper@suntimes.com

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


TOPICS: Activism; Current Events; General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: catholicbashing; catholiclist

1 posted on 02/10/2004 5:20:55 AM PST by joobers
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: joobers
Wow, this is rather surprising to see in print. I wonder what the letters to the editor will say next week.
2 posted on 02/10/2004 5:51:31 AM PST by pseudo-ignatius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lil'freeper
*ping*
3 posted on 02/10/2004 5:52:00 AM PST by big'ol_freeper ("When do I get to lift my leg on the liberal?")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: joobers
I'm not sure the plan is working.

It is pretty clear that an opportunity to repeat that the message in The Passion of the Christ is "I am the Messiah", John 3:16, etc, will present itself daily.  Neither the movie, nor the message is one of hate.

Now, on the other hand, we have propaganda and agendas that are specifically aimed at fighting the message of Our Lord.  Fighting against it being spread, once again, as it will always be.  That allows me to draw a very clear conclusion as to the true author of that anti-Christ message is.

4 posted on 02/10/2004 6:10:32 AM PST by GirlShortstop
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: joobers
And no other religious group gets bashed with such frequency.

Yes.

5 posted on 02/10/2004 9:02:10 AM PST by xJones
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: joobers
And satan is at every turn.

6 posted on 02/10/2004 12:00:16 PM PST by franky (Pray for the souls of the faithful departed. Pray for our own souls to receive the grace of a happy)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: joobers
Thanks! This is why I belong to the Catholic League, whose leader is often referred to as "the pugnacious William Donohue." Well, I am helping Mr. Donohue defend our faith.
7 posted on 02/10/2004 12:38:29 PM PST by Gumdrop
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: joobers; american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; CAtholic Family Association; ...
Just from the last four years, I could easily put together a Catholic Film Festival -- but I don't think too many Catholics would be pleased with the entries.

Contrast these with the magnificent, blockbuster, cast of thousands, biblical-themed films we saw growing up!


8 posted on 02/10/2004 1:42:35 PM PST by NYer (Ad Jesum per Mariam)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
ping
9 posted on 02/10/2004 1:50:33 PM PST by nickcarraway (www.terrisfight.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer; Maeve; Land of the Irish; Desdemona; Aquinasfan; Maximilian; Loyalist; narses; ...
What was the last production on television or film which you would describe as an accurate and sympathetic representation of Catholicism or Catholic culture?
(excluding EWTN as the source)
10 posted on 02/10/2004 1:53:00 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
It wasn't quite accurate, but there was one out about 10 years ago called "Passed Away" that had some of the goofier elements. Okay, there were some things of which we all would definitely not approve, but the culture aspect of it was pretty close.
11 posted on 02/10/2004 1:57:03 PM PST by Desdemona (Music Librarian and provider of cucumber sandwiches, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary. Hats required.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona; NYer
There was that liberal one ("Nothing Sacred") which was absurd. EWTN still runs Fulton Sheen's old "Life is Worth Living." In the 1980s, PBS ran "Brideshead Revisited" (from Granada Television/BBC) and "Bless Me Father" (which was amusing).

I seem to recall Martin Sheen being in some bizarre series called "Insight" (I think) back in the 1970s.

One of the best TV events I recall with a Catholic context involved a couple episodes of "The Fugitive" in which Dr. Richard Kimball (David Janssen) helps a nun.

"The Flying Nun" and "Father Dowling" never really grabbed my attention for some reason...

I suppose the episodes of Buckley's "Firing Line" (particularly the conversations on faith with Malcolm Muggeridge) were pretty good.

The comedy farce in the '70s "Soap" had a priest character involved in an affair with a woman. And "Barney Miller" did an episode where a guy was possessed. Mildly amusing. "The X-Files" had Dana Scully as a lapsed Catholic.

12 posted on 02/10/2004 2:17:39 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
What was the last production on television or film which you would describe as an accurate and sympathetic representation of Catholicism or Catholic culture?

My choice would be Jesus of Nazareth

13 posted on 02/10/2004 3:16:25 PM PST by NYer (Ad Jesum per Mariam)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: joobers
Hard to believe a mainstream film critic wrote this. It will be interesting if all the Mel-bashing and anti-Passion vitriol backfire, but I'm still not holding my breath for positive reviews or Academy Awards.
14 posted on 02/10/2004 3:20:25 PM PST by karenbarinka (an enemy of Mel Gibson is an enemy of Christ)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: joobers
Good post! I'm not a huge fan of the (liberal) Richard Roeper, but this column hits the nail on the head.
15 posted on 02/10/2004 3:27:48 PM PST by mattcabbott
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dombett
Ping!
16 posted on 02/10/2004 3:53:12 PM PST by NYer (Ad Jesum per Mariam)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
Obviously written by an anti-semite...






</sarcasm>
17 posted on 02/10/2004 3:59:45 PM PST by RobRoy (Science is about "how." Christianity is about "why.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: joobers
Am I the only one who perceives this as a highly negative and anti-Catholic article?
18 posted on 02/10/2004 4:11:33 PM PST by Barnacle (Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Barnacle
How so?
19 posted on 02/10/2004 4:19:15 PM PST by mattcabbott
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: mattcabbott
I'm kind of taking a break from posting, so I really don't want to go into it point by point. But I believe the (liberal) Richard Roeper is true to his nature here. If no one else replies, I'll come back and expand on my thoughts.
20 posted on 02/10/2004 4:32:03 PM PST by Barnacle (Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: joobers
BTTT
21 posted on 02/10/2004 4:49:46 PM PST by Dajjal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: joobers; *Catholic_Bashing; *Catholic_list
Bump for the bump list.
22 posted on 02/10/2004 5:26:21 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
How about the 1961 production of "King of Kings", starring Jeffrey Hunter. It's always been one of my favorites.

It's a classic Hollywood biblical epic. The Sermon on the Mount scene used more than 7,000 extras!

It's now on DVD.

Some info, and pictures from the film:

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/ronsreviews/kingokings.html
23 posted on 02/10/2004 10:12:41 PM PST by Deo volente (God willing, Terri Schiavo will live.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: joobers
Good for Roeper.
24 posted on 02/11/2004 4:38:05 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
What was the last production on television or film which you would describe as an accurate and sympathetic representation of Catholicism or Catholic culture?

The only one I can think of is "Brideshead Revisited," from the early '80s. There probably were other ones, like the nun movie with Whoopi Goldberg, but they were obviously forgettable.

25 posted on 02/11/2004 4:40:25 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Aquinasfan
The only one I can think of is "Brideshead Revisited," from the early '80s.

And even that was an adaptation.

"Sister Act" was funny, but not at all accurate.
26 posted on 02/11/2004 4:53:55 AM PST by Desdemona (Music Librarian and provider of cucumber sandwiches, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary. Hats required.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Aquinasfan
AMC or TCM (not sure which one) ran "The Nun's Story" with Audrey Hepburn. In some respects this is a charming film (you do see stuff that looks Catholic), on a certain level, however the total effect is really negative with regard to the Church.

It seems very rare that there is ever anything on U.S. television (not counting EWTN) that depicts Catholic life in any realistic way that I am familiar with as a Catholic. I'll qualify that by saying the extremist liberal priest in "Nothing Sacred" was close but not quite as scary as the real McCoy.

Although there is a liberal, modernist spin to it, I did like Michael Anderson's 1968 The Shoes of the Fisherman. Oskar Werner does a good job with playing the Teilhardian theologian, Fr. Telemond. The look on David Janssen's face when he realizes the conclave has elected a Russian pope is classic.

http://www.blockbuster.com/bb/movie/details/0,7286,VID-V++++44428,00.html

The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)
Cast: Anthony Quinn, Laurence Olivier, Oskar Werner, David Janssen  
Director: Michael Anderson Running Time: 160 minutes  

Synopsis

A Pope contends with the prospects of nuclear world destruction in this Cold-War saga of religious faith and international politics. (Anthony Quinn) plays a Russian priest who has spent 20 years in a Siberian labor camp. When Russian and Chinese relations deteriorate, Russian Premier Kamenev (Laurence Olivier) releases him and he is made a cardinal. Kamenev wishes to have a representative at the Vatican in Rome for future political situations. When the Pope (John Gielgud) dies, a series of events makes the Russian priest the first Pope from a communist country. Taking the name of the saint who spread the gospel to Russia, he becomes Pope Kiril Lakota. He often leaves the Vatican in disguise to mingle with the people to remain in touch with the poor and the needy. When millions of Chinese face starvation, the Pope offers to sell the riches of the church on order to feed the hungry, and he asks that all wealthy countries do the same. David Janssen is the television reporter stationed in Rome whose wife (Barbara Jefford) receives counseling from Kiril, unaware he is the Pope. In a symbolic gesture, Kiril offers his crown as a down payment in an attempt to bring world peace and end the starving of millions. Although a fine drama with a competent international cast, the movie failed at the box office to recoup the 9-million-dollar production costs.

~ Dan Pavlides, All Movie Guide

27 posted on 02/11/2004 4:58:52 AM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
Did you ever see the movie "Trouble with Angels" It might actually be an old Disney Movie.

When I saw it as a kid I always wondered if the nuns in the convents then had that sweet of a relationship with each other.

How Catholic it is, I really couldn't say. But it did not give a bad impression of Catholics.

Becky
28 posted on 02/11/2004 5:36:10 AM PST by PayNoAttentionManBehindCurtain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
There was a very good Australian film, called "Mary", which was part documentary, part drama, telling the life of Mary McKillop. She was founder of the Sisters of St Joseph, and Australia's first canonised saint.

Her life had some sharp reverses, but the film shows many different sides of the Catholic culture of the time. The film is excellent - it doesn't bash, it doesn't romanticise.

http://www.roninfilms.com.au/video/1889129/0/1832237

29 posted on 02/15/2004 10:50:18 PM PST by BlackVeil
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
What about "Bernadette"? I thought I saw something as a child like this.
30 posted on 02/15/2004 10:53:58 PM PST by MarMema
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: MarMema
The Song of Bernadette (1943)

Cast: Jennifer Jones, Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, Vincent Price
Director: Henry King
Categories: Drama, Historical Film
Running Time: 156 minutes  

Synopsis

The Song of Bernadette is a reverent recounting of the life of St. Bernadette of Lourdes. As a teen-aged peasant girl growing up in the tiny French village of Lourdes in the 19th century, Bernadette (Jennifer Jones) experiences a vision of the Virgin Mary in a nearby grotto. At least, she believes that she did. The religious and political "experts" of the region cannot accept the word of a silly little girl, and do their best to get her to renounce her claims. Bernadette's vision becomes a political hot potato for many years, with the authorities alternately permitting and denying the true believers' access to the grotto. No matter what the higher-ups may think of Bernadette, there is little denying that the springs of Lourdes hold some sort of recuperative powers for the sick and lame. Eventually, Bernadette dies, never faltering in her conviction that she saw the Blessed Virgin; years later, she is canonized as a saint, and the Grotto of Lourdes remains standing as a permanent shrine. The 20th Century-Fox people knew that The Song of Bernadette would whip up controversy from both the religious and the agnostic. The company took some of the "curse" off the project with a now-famous opening title: "To those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible." Jennifer Jones' performance in The Song of Bernadette won her the Best Actress Oscar in 1943. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

One amusing note: Camp horror film actor Vincent Price does a great job as the skeptical, anti-Catholic secular humanist mocking the miracles of Lourdes.

31 posted on 02/15/2004 11:20:36 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: MarMema
Good film.

Song of Bernadette http://www.blockbuster.com/bb/movie/details/0,7286,VID-V++++45643,00.html?

32 posted on 02/15/2004 11:23:09 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
The 20th Century-Fox people knew that The Song of Bernadette would whip up controversy from both the religious and the agnostic. The company took some of the "curse" off the project with a now-famous opening title: "To those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible."

Fascinating, especially now. And very nice opening. Send it to Mel.

33 posted on 02/15/2004 11:41:35 PM PST by MarMema
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: MarMema
**"To those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible."**

No one could say it better!
34 posted on 02/16/2004 6:35:57 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson