Monday, June 18, 2012

Some Current Events

Four Items of Note:

The 50th Annual International Eucharistic Congress appears to have been a great success in Ireland: crowds larger than expected with international pilgrimages encouraging the Irish Catholics who have been through a rough time with the revelations of abuse by both priests and religious and inaction by the bishops. The program of events began with Mass on Corpus Christi Sunday and wrapped up yesterday: Masses, Eucharist Processions and presentations on the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus and the other Sacraments, including Reconciliation.

The third Personal Ordinariate for Anglicanorum Coetibus (groups of Anglicans) has been established in Australia: Our Lady of the Southern Cross. Former Anglican bishop Harry Entwistle is the first Ordinary (although, since he is married, he will not be ordained a bishop)--he's not just a former Anglican bishop, however. He was a bishop (since 2006) of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, which is part of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

And finally, the really big news: my husband and I went to see For Greater Glory this weekend. I've been writing and talking about the connections between the Cristeros crisis and the English Reformation, but after watching the movie, one of the great distinctions between the two really came to me: The spirit of irreligion and, indeed, the animus and fear of religion as an influence in society that animated the Calles oppression of the Church. During the English Reformation and its aftermath, the English people came to fear Catholicism and Catholics (and exported that fear among the emigrants sent to New England) but both Anglicans and Catholics in England agreed that religious faith was essential to England. The essential religious faith was Christianity; the issue was which Christian church should be at the center of the culture: the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church (or even the Reformed Church). For Greater Glory begins with President Calles warning against the dangers of the Church to the State, so he makes the State a grave danger to the Church.

Like any historical epic, the movie had to compress some timelines and smooth out some complexities, yet it expressed the sweep of the events during the 1920s. For instance, President Calles remains the main antagonist in the conflict with Church, yet he was out of office by the time the peace treaty negotiated with input from Dwight Morrow in 1929. Although the end titles might make the audience think about the aftermath, the movie ends with the good news that the treaty allows the Church to function again: the interdict Pope Pius XI proclaimed was lifted, and the church bells rang again in Mexico. Yet even after the treaty was signed, government oppression continued. The hint of trouble is that Tulita Gorostieta, widow of  General Enrique Gorostieta, had to remain in hiding four years after the end of the war, as one of the closing titles informs us.

It's an effective movie--this is the review that I thought summarized the film's ethos:

Like Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” “For Greater Glory” is a film displaced in time. This historical adventure feels like a fifty-year-old film minus Charlton Heston. Director Dean Wright (a visual effects master on films like “Lord of the Rings” and “Titanic”) keeps things old fashioned but never crosses the line to pastiche. With sun-soaked cinematography, beautiful panoramic vistas, a lush James Horner score and multitudes of idealist characters and pious speeches, “For Greater Glory” feels like a war movie from a much more innocent time. Though Wright deftly uses that old Hollywood glory against us; he alternates between Hallmark card sentimentality and raw contemporary violence. As the war progresses, the film becomes increasingly violent but never loses its classic film visage, which, whether intentional or not, is eerie and memorable.

Finally, EWTN will be broadcasting a series on The History of Catholicism in the United States by Father Charles Connor tonight -- tomorrow night's episode will focus on Maryland, I'm sure, as the title is "The British Colonies".


  1. I write only to address the use of the term "Roman Catholic" in your article. My understanding is that this phrase is unknown outside of the English language, and was formulated, ironically enough, by the Anglicans who claimed that they were the English Catholic Church, which was merely another, and legitimate, branch of the True Church as was what they coined the Roman Catholic Church. Whenever I see the phrase used by a fellow Catholic, I feel like we have conceded something.

    I greatly enjoy your blog, by the way.

  2. Since I was speaking of the situation in England, I used the term advisedly (even though it's really the polite term the English would have used for the Catholic Church). Thanks for stopping by.