Many of you have heard of….or have even watched…the Netflix movie “The Two Popes”.
If you do plan to watch it, be aware that it is mostly fiction…..as the intro states: “inspired by true events”. So why watch it at all? Well, we wanted to find out what it was all about….any time the Catholic Church is portrayed in the secular media we hold our breath waiting for them to show The Church in a bad light. Not so, in this case. The acting was good, and, so long as you realize that it is fiction, it makes for an interesting hypothetical.
Spoiler alert: if you plan to watch “The Two Popes”, then don’t read below until afterward.
The movie shows Cardinal Archbishop Bergoglio meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome to discuss the Pope’s retirement. There is no record of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio actually going to Rome and meeting with Pope Benedict XVI before he retired. In fact, there is no one who can even remember Pope Benedict XVI’s talk of resignation before he suddenly voiced his intention to do so on February 11, 2013.
The movie accurately describes the announcement being made in Latin, a language many of those present did not even understand. As a result it took a while for word to spread.
And other parts of the story are factual….Bergoglio’s role in Argentina’s dirty war that saw thousands murdered ( including priests) was mentioned briefly. But, his true role in all of that remains unclear to this day.
And of course, Pope Benedict leaving the Vatican for Castel Gandolfo, on his helicopter flight, was accurate. Many of us watched it live on TV that eventful day.
Brief mentions of Ratzingers’ background are reported and some around him actually shout out and call him a Nazi. Although it is true he spent some time in the Hitler Youth when he was a teenager…. the movie fails to point out that enrollment was actually mandatory. He later did much to aid the Holocaust victims and improve Catholic-Jewish dialogue.
We did like the shot of the two walking in the Vatican Gardens…..one of our favorite places in the Vatican.
And, it is here in the Vatican Gardens that Pope Emeritus Benedict resides today in The Mater Ecclesiae Monastery. So he has not really left the Vatican. Sorry…..you won’t be able to visit him on your tour of the Vatican Gardens….but you can get a glimpse of where he lives.
Overall, we enjoyed the movie as entertainment, and think you will too. Perhaps one day we will know more of the true story….just why did Pope Benedict XVI retire? Great fodder for conspiracy theorists!
An interesting note: Although not shown in the movie, Pope Benedict XVI visited the tomb of the only other Pope in history to have resigned: Pope Celestine V. He did this on April 29, 2009, on a visit to L’Aquila, Italy, view the devastation of the damaging earthquake that had taken place there. This took place before he announced his own resignation, and while there, he did something unusual that people did not quite realize was significant at the time. He left his Pallium (the sign of his apostolic authority) there at the tomb of Celestine V without giving an explanation.
If you would like a more detailed, critical review of the film, click here for an article by John Mulderig at The Catholic News Service. (Link will open in a new tab, this page will remain open)