Now comes this ridiculous story about the new movie "Habemus Papam" which, from what I've heard, is a benign little film of "good clean fun." The premise, at least, doesn't seem intrinsically offensive just because it happens to involve hierarchs (who are often great subjects for parody...)
However, oversensitive identity-politics Catholics are, apparently, not so good-humored about these things:
A Vatican reporter for the Italian news agency AGI, Salvatore Izzo, called for a boycott of the box-office hit and Cannes Palme D'Or contender “Habemus Papam” [...] Writing in the Italian bishop’s newspaper Avvenire, he said, “You don't touch the Pope: he is the Christ's vicar, the rock upon which Jesus founded his Church.”Is he effing serious?!? As far as I can tell, this film is neither explicitly attacking the individual mortal man who current holds the papacy (whom I've critiqued and poked fun at myself here several times, sometimes with a harshness I regret, even with my great affection for him). And it doesn't seem to critique the office of the papacy itself as a constitutional feature of the Church. It sounds like a comedy about a man who happens to be Pope. Why should that be off-limits in literature or film? It sounds like an awfully good plot-device to me.
Oh, but Fr. Z is gushing over a Telegraph article about how "offensive" this all is:
Seriously terrifying. And just what did he mean with that comparison to cinemas being burnt and directors being killed in Islamic countries anyway? That this is justified or that Catholics should start doing that in our areas??? If not, then what was the point of pointing that out?
Traditionalists say that the film, by the acclaimed Italian director Nanni Moretti, is “an instrument of Satan” and is particularly offensive as it has been released in the approach to Easter.
Bruno Volpe, the Catholic lawyer, has launched suit for defamation against Moretti and the producers under the terms of the Lateran Pact, which extends the same protections to the prestige of the pope as to the Italian president. Mr Volpe said Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), never mentioned the current Pope by name but it was nevertheless clear that it was a parody of Pope Benedict XVI and dishonoured the figure of the Pontiff in general. Salvatore Izzo, a Vatican expert, branded the work disrespectful and boring in an open letter to Avvenire, the Catholic bishops’ newspaper.
He said Catholics should boycott the film, which opened in Italy on Friday and will be in competition at Cannes.
“Why should we support financially that which offends our religion?” he asked, admitting he had not seen the film.
Antonio Vacca, the bishop of Alghero, described Moretti as “an instrument of Satan for separating man from God”.
Gerardo Pierro, archbishop of Salerno, said the launch of a similar film in an Islamic country would have led to the burning of cinemas and attempts to kill the director for blasphemy. “I think many people take advantage of the traditional meekness of Catholics, which is often confused with foolishness or resignation,” Archbishop Pierro said.
And launching a defamation suit under the terms of the Lateran Pact for dishonoring the figure of the Pontiff?? (To which Fr. Z said "Good for him!") Just what sort of theocratic regime do these people want to live under? That Catholics are expressing support for that sort of censorship in our modern world just scares the shit out of me. Whatever may have been justified or necessary in that regard in a Christian society, the idea of imposing that today is insane.
God save us from conservative Catholics!!