Two Thumbs Down

The secret is finally out: The Catholic Church is intolerant and hypocritical, with outdated teachings about celibacy, homosexuality, fornication, and almost everything else. Or so a new Catholic-bashing movie would have you believe. Miramax Films, whose parent company is none other than the Walt Disney Company, recently released a British-made movie called Priest. But this film would have been more aptly titled Five Little Priests and How They Sinned. Priest gives us young Father Greg, who has just arrived in a working-class Liverpool parish. When the going gets tough, Father Greg gets going—straight into a gay bar. Father Greg's colleague, Father Matthew, blithely beds the rectory housekeeper. Then there's the alcoholic father, the crazy father, and one wicked bishop. The characters alone would be repulsive to faithful Catholics—and all Christians, for that matter. But the film's essential conflict is even worse. Priest takes on the sanctity of the confessional. Father Greg hears a man confess to molesting his young daughter. The priest agonizes over his inability to report the incest. His faith begins to crumble as he concludes that both his vows and his church are the products of intolerance and duplicity. And that's the gist of the film: The Catholic Church is in a moral shambles—and its teachings are hateful, harmful, and hypocritical. And despite a plethora of priests, the film couldn't assign even a cameo role to one obedient, well-adjusted cleric. That's because, as one critic put it, the appearance of even one faithful father would have shot down the film's theme of "blaming the institution of the church for the maladies of its priests." In response to the public outpouring of disgust over Priest—especially its graphic scenes of gay sex—director Antonia Bird sniffed, "The film [isn't] knocking the Catholic faith or belittling it. [It's] just questioning some of the decisions that have been taken by the hierarchy." Well, thank you for straightening us out, Ms. Bird. I guess all the folks who object to this blasphemous film are just a bunch of narrow-minded prudes who don't know great art. Of course, that would include most Americans—myself included—who have no intention of wasting money on this kind of trash. Priest is bombing at the box office, which just proves what film critic Michael Medved has been saying for years: Americans aren't interested in celluloid trash heaps masquerading as entertainment. We ought to tell Disney to stop trying to hide behind Mickey Mouse—that we're not fooled when they release films like Priest through a subsidiary instead of under the Disney label. And they need to know that if they keep trashing our faith, we're going to start boycotting Disney products. Write to Disney at the address below. If they get enough letters—or lose enough profits—maybe these guys will finally get the message. As John Cardinal O'Connor told them, "It's hard to wash your hands of this kind of thing, Disney and Company. Pilate has been trying unsuccessfully for two thousand years." Walt Disney Company 500 S. Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521


Chuck Colson


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