Thursday, January 9, 2020

Bishop Robert Barron on The Two Popes

The new and much-ballyhooed Netflix film The Two Popes should, by rights, be called The One Pope, for it presents a fairly nuanced, textured and sympathetic portrait of Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) and a complete caricature of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). This imbalance fatally undermines the movie, whose purpose, it seems, is to show that old, grumpy, legalistic Benedict finds his spiritual bearings through the ministrations of friendly, forward-looking Francis. But such a thematic trajectory ultimately does violence to both figures, and turns what could have been a supremely interesting character study into a predictable and tedious apologia for the film-maker’s preferred version of Catholicism.

That we are dealing with a caricature of Ratzinger becomes clear when, in the opening minutes of the film, the Bavarian cardinal is presented as ambitiously plotting to secure his election as pope in 2005. On at least three occasions, the real Cardinal Ratzinger begged John Paul II to allow him to retire from his position as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and to take up a life of study and prayer.
Catholic Herald
I haven't seen The Two Popes because all the other reviews I read gave me the clues to what Bishop Barron spells out. Barron's review looks at the missed opportunities that would have made this a more accurate film and also a film that honestly let people see both popes.

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