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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Watch. This. Film.

On November 17, Pope Benedict XVI screened a slightly abbreviated version of the four-hour film Pope John Paul II, to air over Sunday and Wednesday nights this week. Afterwards, he had this to say:
Watching this film has renewed in me and, I think, in everyone who had the gift of knowing [Pope John Paul II], a sense of profound gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world a Pope of such an exalted human and spiritual stature . . . Over and above any specific evaluation, I feel the film constitutes further proof . . . of the love people hold for Pope John Paul, and of their great desire to remember him, to see him again, to feel him close.

Beyond its superficial and emotive aspects, this phenomenon clearly has an intimate spiritual dimension, which we here in the Vatican see every day watching the multitudes of pilgrims who come to pray, or just to pay rapid homage, at his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes. That affective and spiritual bond with John Paul II, which became even closer during the period of his final illness and death, was not interrupted. It has never been broken because it is a bond between souls, between the great soul of the Pope and the souls of innumerable believers; between his fatherly heart and the hearts of countless men and women of good will who recognized in him a friend, and a defender of man, of truth, of justice, of freedom and of peace. All over the world, many people admired in him above all the coherent and generous witness to God.
There have been two other films about our last Holy Father shown on television since August, the most recent just days ago on ABC. Word is that this film is the best of the bunch, and well worth your time on Sunday and Wednesday.

The film stars both Carey ("as you wish") Elwes and Jon Voight (right) in the title role. For more info about the film, which enjoyed unprecendented access to the Vatican and other Catholic landmarks for filming, click here. Be sure to take a look at the video clips, too. There is one which really brought my emotions to the surface: a re-creation of a 1979 visit the newly-elected Pope had with the youth in Krakow, Poland, who had gathered under the window where he was staying in the Archbishop's residence (the same in which he had lived as archbishop, and where he had taken refuge as a young man during WWII). Hearing the large group of youth chanting outside and seranading their beloved Pope, he comes to the window to be with them and to encourage them. The Pope had such meetings with the young people of Krakow in his later visits to Poland as well, and years later many of those same Poles were back in the same place, holding candlelight vigil during Pope John Paul II's final hours. Those who saw this on television in April as it was happening will be all the more moved by the scene from the film.

When you've had a chance to see the film, and particularly if you agree with Pope Benedict XVI that it was a worthy project, contact CBS by scrolling to the bottom of their homepage and clicking on the "feedback" link. Let them know that this film was appreciated, and encourage them to invest in more worthwhile programming.