I am not a Catholic, but I watched this movie out of curiosity for the kind of narrative one can create about the Papacy. Is it going to thread lightly and avoid offending the religious? Or is it going to shine a spotlight on controversies surrounding the Church?
The answer: it’s a little bit of both, but tastefully and beautifully done.
Cardinal Ratzinger was a devoted conservative, and his time as Pope Benedict XVI was seen as a “win” for religious orthodoxy and upholding the Church dogma. Meanwhile, Cardinal Bergoglio (a.k.a. Pope Francis) was the liberal who allows divorcees to participate in Communion, among other things — which Pope Benedict flat out denounced. Their discourse on the role of the Church in a changing world is one of the best scenes early on in the movie. The contrast between the two were painted clearly, but without animosity to either side. After all, they’re both struggling for the same thing.
What I love about The Two Popes is how it depicted Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis as humans — mortals who also experience doubt, express disagreement, and crack occasional jokes, just like the rest of us. But most of all, how they are capable of change: what we believe today may no longer be our conviction tomorrow, and that is okay.
As a country that takes pride in itself as a “predominantly Christian nation”, Filipinos should seriously watch this film. Watch it and understand it. A more inclusive church does not mean it’s compromising its faith; it’s simply moving to put more value on compassion. And that ain’t a bad thing.
Watch the official trailer for The Two Popes here.