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The Two Popes and Fake News

I shared some thoughts on the new Netflix film The Two Popes. While I would agree that it is a good film, but we have to be careful not to assume that everything that it portrays is factual.

We have to remember that it is a work of fiction.

I would like to clarify that I do not think that the filmmakers are intentionally trying to deceive. I believe that they believe that they took certain freedoms in order to make the story (in their opinion) more dramatic.

I also want to repeat that I think that every film depicts a particular point of view; it is impossible to make a film that is not biased. The Two Popes shows clear biases. Some choices are artistic; some merely show the bias of the filmmakers.

But, I pointed out last week that there were two factual errors that I think are problematic: One links Cardinal Bergoglio to Argentina’s dictatorship and the other implies that Cardinal Ratzinger was complicit in the cover up of the Marciel affair.

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The Two Popes and St. Stephen

OK, so I can’t let the conversation on this film go on without offering my thoughts.

I watched Netflix’s The Two Popes on December 26, the Feast of St. Stephen. In no way are the two stories similar, however, I couldn’t help seeing a connection.

The Two Popes is a film by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles and written by New Zealander, Anthony McCarten (who also wrote The Theory of Everything and Bohemian Rhapsody). It is an adaptation from McCarten’s 2017 play The Pope.

In case you are not familiar with the film, it is a fictional story starring Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who later becomes Pope Francis.

I don’t intend to do a review on the film (there are lots of great reviews – and Catholic at that – that you can read. See below for some suggestions). I will say that from a film point of view, it is good: It is well written, well shot, well directed and well performed.

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How Perfect is Your Family?

A reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family, year A. The readings are Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128; Col. 3:12-21 and Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23.

Flight into Egypt by Peter Paul Rubens (1614). Hessen Kassel Museums.

What do you imagine when you think of the Holy Family? Surely, Joseph was a hard worker and a good protector and provider for his family. He was a loving husband to his wife Mary. Mary was a loving wife to her husband, Joseph. She was quiet and gentle. She always had a good meal prepared. She provided a warm and caring home for the family.

They surely were like the people who are described in the first and second readings and the Psalm today!

Of course, being perfect parents is easy when there is a perfect child!

Mary and Joseph never had to discipline little Jesus. He never complained and never whined. He never threw a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. He always ate his vegetables and never had to be told to stop playing video games and do his homework. He never argued or slammed the door to his room.

Well, he did talk back at them at least once.

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The Eschaton is here!

A relfection for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A. The readings are Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14 and Matthew 24:37-44.

We begin the season of Advent and very often – especially this year – the readings are all about the eshcaton. Haven’t you heard of the eschaton? It is not a pre-historic monster that lurks in the depths of the ocean. The eschaton is a Greek word that refers to the end of times. You may have heard the word ‘eschatology’ or about things that are ‘eschatological’ – that’s ‘cause they have to do with the end times.

That’s what Jesus is talking about today in the Gospel. He has just told the disciples about the destruction of the Temple and they want to know when that’s going to happen. He doesn’t tell them when it’s going to happen, but he goes into a long speech about paying attention to signs and that there will be wars and earthquakes and famines and that when they see these things happen they should flee to the hills. And then He tells them that it will be like in the days of Noah, and that is the Gospel that that is read today. It doesn’t sound so ominous if we only hear what is in the Gospel today, but if you put it in context with what Jesus has just finished saying, it’s easy to see why over the centuries, people have thought that Jesus is talking about the end of the world. Read more…