Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Two Popes

This blog post contains spoilers

The film about Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis portrayed respectively by  Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce is currently being shown at the local Curzon cinema and as from yesterday, on Netflix.

Father Michael told me that he and fellow Jesuits had watched the film which he thoroughly recommended, so mrs maytrees and myself viewed The Two Popes film yesterday, on Netflix. 

The film was excellent. The early years of Pope Francis, firstly with a girlfriend and then as a priest in an Argentinian parish were fascinating though sad to see him saying good bye to his girlfriend upon his being called to the priest hood. Surely the Church should reflect on the merits of  married priests more widely? Even if so however I would imagine that marriage would be ruled out for members of religious orders who after all, include vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as part of their obligations.

The film then portrayed the early years when Argentina was taken over by the generals with many young people disappearing. My view has always been that the Falklands war was commenced by the Argentinian generals to distract the local population from their huge concerns about the generals murdering dissenters. The murders  which were tragic and dreadful, feature in the film though not the the Falkland Islands war. Indeed my recollection of the latter, is that Pope John Paul II who was about to make an historic visit to the UK almost had to cancel the visit to this country because of that war but at the last minute, arranged a visit to Argentina for May 1982 thus enabling his travels to the UK in the preceding weeks to go ahead.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio  became a priest in 1969 and cardinal in 2001; prior to which he had became the Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina.

In  the film, the issues that then arose between the generals and the people were shown as spilling over to the Jesuits in Argentina some of whom were required by Father Bergoglio to close down the village they had created for people displaced by the generals. That he agreed, caused a huge rift between him and the other Jesuits involved which was only partly the subject of a reconciliation upon his becoming Pope Francis. This history featured movingly in the fascinating conversations between Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio which took place at the Pope's summer residence, when we also learned that both men were intent on retiring and indeed that Cardinal Bergoglio had been summonsed to Rome upon Pope Benedict learning of his wish to retire. In the event the Pope retired and the Cardinal  was  then  in the election that followed, elected to the papacy

Pope Benedict's confession to Cardinal  Bergoglio was very moving as it included an account which I found shocking, though alas far from unique at least at that time, of the Pope as Cardinal Ratzingermoving   a priest to other parishes despite the priest having been found to have been abusing a large number of people, rather  than reporting him and having him removed from the priesthood.

The conversations in the film were fascinating. The scenery too was  by and large excellent though the ceiling of what I assume was supposed to be the Sistine  Chapel in the Vatican, was far removed from the splendour of the  actual ceiling which mrs maytrees and I were fortunate enough to see a few years ago, when for some reason there were few other visitors there.

Overall a very interesting film which captivated ones attention throughout.

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