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Friday, June 1, 2018

"Pope Francis: A Man of His Word" 2018. Please See This Movie

Please go see "Pope Francis: A Man of His Word," the 2018 documentary by Wim Wenders. Just by going to a theater to see this film, you will be making the world a better place. Why? Because this is a beautiful, moving, engaging film about life's big questions. It turns its camera on people so poor they live in garbage dumps, on pollution, mass migration, on victims of natural disasters, and asks how to respond to all this in an ethical way.

About how many other movies can you say that? If you financially reward the makers of this film, more filmmakers will produce more beautiful, deep movies. And the world will be a better place.

Almost from the first moments of this film to the last, I had tears running down my face. I'm a movie lover and I loved this movie, not just because it is good in a moral sense, but because it is well made. Wim Wenders, the filmmaker as well as the narrator, is an award-winning director who gave us "Wings of Desire" and "The Buena Vista Social Club."

The film opens, in a sense, in heaven. Wenders turns his camera on heavenly clouds. Wenders' voiceover lists all that is wrong with the world, and asks how we can go on. The clouds break, and Wenders shows us an ancient Italian town, and invokes another Francis, St. Francis of Assisi. Wenders uses mention of the medieval St. Francis to highlight the life of the current Pope Francis.

Francis is shown carrying out his day-to-day life. He visits with very poor people in places like Brazil, the Philippines, and the Central African Republic. He has intimate contact with the sick, those disposed by hurricanes, and the aged. Those he visits tremble during their encounters. Their eyes glow. They weep. They exult.

Francis also visits the wealthy and powerful: Vladimir Putin, the Trumps, and congress. American legislators John Boehner, Marco Rubio, and others are shown helplessly wiping away tears as Francis speaks.

In other scenes, Francis looks directly into Wenders' camera and speaks from his heart. He teaches with confidence and authority, but in a kindly, not a didactic or superior, way.

You don't have to agree with everything Francis says to cherish this movie. I certainly don’t. On the one hand, as I watched, my rational mind developed arguments against some of Francis' positions. But my heart was still moved, because Francis is so obviously a well-meaning person trying to make his way through a very challenging world.

I disagree with Francis most on two related points. First, he says that one should never assume an attitude of proselytizing. I disagree. Christians must proselytize. Maybe there is a nuance here I am missing. If so, the film never clarifies.

Francis appears to endorse the mass migration of unvetted, military-age Muslims into Europe while, in the film, in any case, ignoring the real-world problems caused by that migration. And Francis romanticizes poverty, in my opinion.

Rather than romanticizing poverty, Francis should endorse efforts to end poverty. If women's status were elevated, and if women controlled their own fertility, their societies would advance and there would be fewer people living in abject poverty. Further, capitalism and even greed should not be demonized. Jesus had warm relations with rich people, and he spoke of the necessity to build on investments.

Francis says kind things about women and homosexuals without advancing any change in policy that would communicate the official church recognition of the full humanity of women and homosexuals, not just heterosexual men.

Even when I was disagreeing with Francis, I was loving this movie.

Now, to the naysayers. In "The Federalist," Maureen Mullarkey called the film "religious pornography" and identified Pope Francis as analogous to Hitler. Movie reviews don't get any weirder than that. Mullarkey hates Francis' kind words about homosexuals. She trashes the film.

This hateful review is followed by comments by hundreds of hateful people, some identifying as Catholic, who are utterly comfortable comparing Pope Francis to Hitler.

For that reason alone, you need to see this movie.

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