The Two Popes: A ham-fisted plug for pope Francis

The Two Popes
Directed by Fernando Meirelles, screenplay by Anthony McCarten, and featuring Anthony Hopkins as pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as pope Francis
Netflix, 2019, 125 minutes.

2 Stars

Back in February 2019, I reviewed an interesting book, “The Pope,” by Anthony McCarten, that contrasted the doctrinally conservative, pope Benedict XVI, with his successor, the progressive reformer, pope Francis. See me review here.

Netflix produced a film based on the book and released it for streaming this past December 20th. Just as in the book, the sharp contrast between the conservative Benedict and the progressive Francis is the theme of the film. Benedict is portrayed as hopelessly out of touch with the world with his rigid clericalism and doctrinalism. Francis, in contrast, is presented as a breath of fresh air who is willing, make that eager, to eschew clerical privilege and bend/circumvent doctrine in order to reach people with the progressive version of the Catholic works-righteousness “gospel.”

This film is a biased representation of the current battle within the Catholic church between conservatives and the Francis-led progressives, with Francis the clear favorite. Pro-Francis screenwriter, McCarten, “swings for the fences” at the end of the film with Benedict XVI/Hopkins admitting the error of his rigid ideology and fully embracing Francis’ reforms. The two characters seal the deal over Fanta and pizza, watching a soccer game, and dancing the tango together (VERY creepy in light of the current clerical abuse and homosexuality scandals in the RCC). What a “hammy” ending and it’s all pure fiction.

People love Francis for being so “down to earth,” but neither in conservative Catholicism’s rigid doctrinalism or in Francis’ doctrine-bending “pastoralism” can be found the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

While “The Two Popes” is garnering a lot of accolades at the various Hollywood awards shows, I would recommend this pro-Francis puff piece only to serious evangelical Vatican-watchers. Everyone else should use the two hours for something more productive.

22 thoughts on “The Two Popes: A ham-fisted plug for pope Francis

  1. Hi Tom…I watched this a few weeks ago. I saw it just as you did. Seemed like pure propaganda to me. Who are they trying to convince, conservative Catholics or the whole world? Do you think any Jesuit could be like the character of Jorge Bergoglio in this thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Contendia, Glad weโ€™re on the same page re: this propaganda piece.

      RE: Do you think any Jesuit could be like the character of Jorge Bergoglio in this thing?

      I believe todayโ€™s Jesuits – social gospelers for the most part – very much support Francisโ€™ agenda.


      1. I really just meant that the Bergoglio character in the movie seemed truly humble and likable. Because of their aims and their history, that’s incongruous with my impression of their lust for power and control. I don’t know for sure, but they probably aren’t ideological. Rather. they see things like social justice as a means of controlling the minds of the masses. It’s a tool for them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Okay, I follow your point. It’s very interesting to me that the Jesuits began as extremely ideological as “the pope’s army” but in the 20th century shifted into liberation theology/social gospel/progressivism. There’s definitely an element of self-preservation involved. Fewer and fewer Catholics are responding to old model clericalism and doctrinalism.


  2. Finally read this. Sounds like this bias documentary capture the Popeโ€™s agenda. Wonder if the pope has anything to say about it? For the record I feel this current pope is narcissistic and focuses on pushing edges. But that can only go so far…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, this film is pure, pro-Francis propaganda.

      RE: Wonder if the pope has anything to say about it?

      I haven’t seen any comment from Francis on this film. But acknowledging this puff piece wouldn’t be in keeping with his public persona of “humble servant.”

      RE: pope is narcissistic and focuses on pushing edges. But that can only go so far

      From an objective, Vatican-observer standpoint, what Francis has done in seven years is amazing (I don’t mean that positively). He has the RCC conservatives back on their heels and twisted into pretzels. Of course there’s still no genuine Gospel in sight. He comes across as warm and friendly Uncle Jorge but he’s a masterful strategist. He’s playing the conservatives like rope-a-dopes. He won’t confront them directly, but is guilefully steering the RCC away from them. I’m sure he’s constantly strategizing with his progressive allies about he far and how fast he can push things. All that being said, I’m certainly no fan of Francis who is leading 1.3 billion souls to hell. Oh, I agree he’s very much full of himself underneath the humble veneer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜Š I look at the daily walks as a way to acclimate to the weather and, gulp, even โ€œenjoyโ€ it to a degree rather than cursing it and hibernating inside.

        Liked by 1 person

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