DAILY CATHOLIC - THURSDAY, November 27, 1997    volume 8, no. 40


Installment Fifty

Wake-up Call to all Catholics the twenty fourth clarion

installment fifty

Beware of False Prophets in the American Church - part eleven:
"Persecution and Prejudice up on Holy Mother Church"

      The movies - the great escape entertainment of the fifties and early sixties had turned in the seventies to tools of propaganda and shock. Most shocking was the movie the "Exorcist" which depicted the Catholic priests as weak and inefficient. The movie, "The Cardinal" also showed a human, weak individual struggling with his vocation in a much different light than Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of a nun in the "Nun's Story." Though these were nothing compared to later celluloid sell-outs in the late eighties and nineties like "Priests," they set the tone for depicting Catholics and priests as weak, troubled human beings. The image on the screen came across as someone you wouldn't and couldn't trust, causing an erosion at the confessionals and at Sunday Mass. The sacredness of a vocation to the religious life was looked upon negatively, causing countless young men and women to forsake any thought of dedicating their lives to God. Instead they sought after what Hollywood was selling: fame, fortune, good looks and sex. Ah, the American dream soon became an antithesis to all God had deigned for mankind.

     While some films were still laudable, the prelates and clerics in these films were looked upon as dottering, inefficient, troublesome. The film "Agony and the Ecstacy" starring Charleton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as the Pope depicted the latter in just such a light. Quite possibly, in the history of the pontiffs, there were many like that and even that one in particular, but it was the message conveyed on the big screen that greatly influenced the masses. Remember in the early seventies, with so many changes being foisted upon Catholics, they were in a state of transition and confusion. Disgruntled Catholics on both the right and left made no bones about it and, rather than "keeping it in the family" sought out the media to "tell all." This helped spawn the growth of talk shows begun by outspoken and obnoxious men like Joe Pyne in New York who aired any dirt on the Church he could, bringing in questionable women who told about their trysts with this priest or that. It was shock-TV and it brought in numbers. The entire industry sat up and took notice. Ethics be damned, this made money! Hollywood took the cue and began to portray priests and Catholics in this light, not as the exception, but as the rule. Even Catholic-raised Francis Coppula fell victim to the hype by contributing to the growing distrust of Catholics and clerics alike in his trilogy of "The Godfather" in which the families supposedly practiced their Catholicity while committing every sin against God's Ten Commandments. What kind of message did this send to the masses? That Catholics were hypocrites and their leaders were no better. The outpouring of affection the world had conjured up for Pope John XXIII because of his openness to change, soon turned to mistrust for his successor Pope Paul VI, especially after he had released the staunch encyclical Humanae Vitae on the sacredness of human life on July 29, 1968. It was totally rejected except in conservative circles, something unprecedented on a universal basis. As each year passed, his stature became one of a dottering old pope who had totally lost touch with reality and the times. Hmmm, sounds a lot like the criticism of one of his successors, doesn't it? Actually, that's the standard liberal whine when things don't go their way. Degrade, divide and conquer. And they don't give up. Today they're as strong as ever and have infiltrated every parish where unsuspecting Catholics are totally buying into their rhetoric. But many of these younger Catholics were weaned on this modernist platform, while the older, should-know-better Catholics stood by and let it happen. "Don't want to make waves" they'd alibi. But the wave of Catholic-bashing was just reaching its Tsunami proportions. By the end of the seventies such irreverant television programs as "Laugh-in" had given way to even more irreverant and blatantly moral-bashing vehicles as "Saturday Night Live," "Maude" and "All in the Family." People laughed on the outside, but inside they were seething with distrust and dislike for Catholics and anything they stood for. Even Catholics began to grow immune to the damage being done to their psyche and their souls as their hearts hardened.

     By the late seventies Paul VI had died and the Roman Church had elected a Polish Pope. Polish jokes were more popular than ever and people the world over wondered who was this guy. Just as John XXIII and John F. Kennedy were linked to an ideology of liberalism and a personna of awe in the sixties, so also Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan were identified as powerful, conservative leaders with strong moral convictions. This was the only saving factor for the eighties as we shall see in our next installment next week when we treat the Enigmatic Eighties and the effects of the fallout in Holy Mother Church in this on-going feature megaseries.

To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.

November 1997