Roger Ebert Pans For Greater Glory For Being Too Catholic

 

 

Roger Ebert is one of the more celebrated movie critics in the country.  He is also a secular liberal of a fairly exteme variety.  This was on display in his review of For Greater Glory.  Go here to read the review.

Ebert confesses that he had never heard of the Cristeros war:

This war has all the elements to make it well-known, but I confess I’d never heard of it. A close Mexican-American friend, well-informed in Mexican history, told me she never has, either. Is it in the usual history books? You’ll learn a lot about it in “For Greater Glory,” the most expensive film ever made in Mexico, an ambitious production with a cast filled with stars.

Judging from the rest of the review, this confession of ignorance was superfluous.

Ebert seems to lack any concept of the Catholic beliefs regarding martyrdom:

It is well-made, yes, but has such pro-Catholic tunnel vision I began to question its view of events. One important subplot involves a 12-year-old boy choosing to die for his faith. Of course the federal troops who shot him were monsters, but the film seems to approve of his decision and includes him approvingly in a long list of Cristeros who have achieved sainthood or beatification after their deaths in the war.

Yes Mr. Ebert, we Catholics do believe it is better to die than to deny Christ.  We have it from the mouth of Christ that this is what we should do.  If you have problems with this, take it up with Him.

Ebert seems to believe that it is OK to persecute the Church a little, but Mexican President Calles took things a wee bit too far:

President Calles (Ruben Blades), who can’t believe the Cristeros can possibly be successful, pursues the war beyond what seems to be all common sense. It’s one thing to enforce legal restraints on the Catholic Church and another — a riskier one — to order such extremes as sending all the bishops and foreign-born clergy out of the country and authorizing the murder of priests in their own churches.

Overall Ebert thinks that For Greater Glory is a good film, but all this Catholic business ruins it:

For Greater Glory” is the kind of long, expensive epic not much made any more. It bears the hallmarks of being a labor of love. I suspect it’s too long for some audiences. It is also very heavy on battle scenes, in which the Cristeros seem to have uncannily good aim. But in its use of locations and sets, it’s an impressive achievement by director Dean Wright, whose credits include some of the effects on the “Lord of the Rings” films. If it had not hewed so singlemindedly to the Catholic view and included all religions under the banner of religious liberty, I believe it would have been more effective. If your religion doesn’t respect the rights of other religions, it is lacking something     

Hoo boy.  Mr. Ebert, the Cristeros were fighting for religious liberty and the Catholic Church stands for religious liberty.  I can only assume that you acquired your ideas about the Catholic Church from people who know as much about the Church as you do about the Cristeros War.  For your edification here is a passage from the Catechism on the topic of religious freedom:

               

2106 “Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits.”34 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it “continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it.”35

2107 “If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well.”36

2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.38

                  

35 Responses to Roger Ebert Pans For Greater Glory For Being Too Catholic

  • If Mr Ebert were a true intellectual he would to the research and see that President Calles actually built Protestant schools while commandeering Catholic institutions. He was a Mason who was viciously anti-Catholic. It was an agenda driven vendetta against the Church which, as Mr Ebert rightly indicates, surpassed reason. The disgraced American Ambassador in the film, said, “the more Catholic priests and whores they kill in Mexico, the better.” No wonder he was replaced by President Coolidge!
    I recommend Patrick Madrid’s CD from Lighthouse Media on the Cristero War for a quick, reliable overview of historical background and the filmmakers are coming out with a study guide to accompany the film, with the help of the US bishops.
    Learn from the suppression of our Faith in Mexico how to stop the Obama Administration in its tracks as he attempts to begin the same process of alienation and suppression in the USA. It is nothing short of providential that this film comes out the same month as the USCCB’s “Fortnight for Freedom”.

  • Lacking something?

    What would that be, exactly, according to Ebert? Obviously there’s some higher, universal secular religion that he adheres to that all other religions must be compared to in order to pass muster.

    I will say, however, that one of the problems with Vatican II’s statements on religious liberty, from whence those Catechism statements are derived, is that the Church actually did insist that Catholic states prohibit the free exercise of religion, i.e. violated the alleged “human rights” of Saracens and others throughout the Middle Ages. The public profession of Islam was to be banned solely because it offended God.

    I see no need, unlike a lot of modern Catholics, to apologize for this. Who decided that the modernist, Masonic standards of people like Roger Ebert are those to which we must scramble to conform? That transgressions against them must be eternally apologized for and any hint of a policy that might transgress against them again scrubbed vigorously away?

    Pope Leo XIII’s position was perfectly adequate for me. It does not declare religious liberty to be some sort of “human right”; it rather views it as a prudent policy given the times in which we live. Vatican II and the moderns go a step further by making what was arguably a necessity into a virtue. I can’t do that, because to do so would be to logically condemn Christendom and its policies, and I will never do that.

  • I have to add that the view that insists, as a fundamental principle, that all people are entitled to religious liberty is almost always found with the view that all religions are more or less the same. It’s the business of the state that is of the highest concern, and the business of science to tell us the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is a subjective thing that might make some people and communities happier but will also distract from this “real” business if taken too seriously.

  • I just saw the film, and my feeling was very different from Mr. Eberts. I didn’t think the film was as well crafted as it could have been, and what seemed missing the most was actually perceiving a faith motivating the characters. They said “Viva Christo Rey” but I wanted to see them live it, to mean it. That never quite came through (at least to me- I might view it again and see if I feel differently).

    The thing is, Mexico DID persecute Catholics and kill them- so I’d not call it Catholic tunnel vision. It had less of that than some movies of the past.

    I do think the film suffered from not being sure if it was about freedom in general, religious freedom, or defending the faith. It was all over the place as far as that– very out of focus.

  • In regard to religious freedom and the Church, we have to keep in mind that what we understand as religious freedom is a modern creation ushered in largely by the Founding Fathers. Prior to that time the Church was usually suppressed or placed under severe disabilities wherever non-Catholic religions gained the upper hand. Ireland was a typical example. The idea of a truly neutral state on matters of religion was something not considered as possible until the United States demonstrated that it was possible. The popes were somewhat sceptical initially, but gradually understood how religious freedom as practiced in the United States, where the Church was almost totally left alone, was of value to the Church. I think it was Gregory XVI, no fan of new-fangled Republics, who stated that in no country was he more Pope than in the United States. The example of the United States helped convince the popes that religious freedom, in a governmental arrangement where the Church was free to conduct her mission, was something to be supported. Catholic confessional states often constantly interferred with the Church, including having a voice in the choosing of bishops, and even intervening in Papal elections. A state which left the Church alone definitely had its advantages for Catholics, and to preserve that dispensation is precisely what the current fight for religious liberty is all about in the US.

  • That Calles could torture and execute a twelve year old boy does not need a movie around it. That Ebert thinks that all religions are the same, Catholicism, atheism (a belief in no God) is why the Person of God has been exiled from the midst of the state along with the Commandments and civilization. Now, America after aborting our constitutional posterity can torture and kill twelve year old boys too, equality and RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.

  • “I have to add that the view that insists, as a fundamental principle, that all people are entitled to religious liberty is almost always found with the view that all religions are more or less the same. It’s the business of the state that is of the highest concern, and the business of science to tell us the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is a subjective thing that might make some people and communities happier but will also distract from this “real” business if taken too seriously.”
    God’s gifts to man are Faith, first and foremost, the universe and the scientific method for discerning the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is man’s response to the gift of Faith from God through which man discovers the science of man. Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Subjective ordering of human rights is what got us into where twelve year old boys are tortured and executed and another man’s response to the gift of Faith from God can be criminalized. Which is where we are now, in America, TRUTH has been ostracized and criminalized and we are about to have the practice of medicine criminalized through Obamacare. There is only one Supreme Sovereign Being and love for God is called Catholicism. His people are called Americans.

  • This movie got a meager 19% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the critics, but 72% of audiences liked it. Quite a disparity.
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/for_greater_glory/

  • Finally saw a commercial for this.

    I think about a half-dozen people from our group alone are going to go see it in theater because of that– outstanding video clips. (I won’t, but that’s because I never do. ^.^)

  • Another reason why no one should ever give a damn about what a film critic says.

  • It’s one thing to enforce legal restraints on the Catholic Church

    I wonder what “legal restraints” he thinks are appropriate?

  • Rush Limbaugh was praising it on his show. My mother called me up and wanted to know more, because she’d never heard about it. Cracked me up, because I’d just been talking about it the previous weekend, and my mom had totally tuned me out!

    I’ve seen a lot of commercials for it, in some unexpected places. I think it would appeal to anyone, of almost any background or political stripe. I mean to go see it soon.

    Ebert is one of those ex-Catholics who really feels guilty about leaving the faith, and thus can’t admit that he feels guilty. His autobio said he used to be fervent before he did stupid stuff in the Sixties, so of course the little kid martyr makes him feel uncomfortable. I hope it does him good over the long haul, and I’m sure he has the martyrs’ prayers.

  • Re: the Cristeros, now that I think about it, Ebert must have heard about them. The Power and the Glory, and that other John Ford movie about it — they are famous, as was mentioned over on Greydanus’ column. Did Ebert think all that stuff was made up?

  • I haven’t seen the movie yet. I do agree that internal biases may be at work with regard to reviews by professional film critics who don’t like the fact that the movie has an unabashedly “Church good, government bad” point of view.

    That said, there is a difference between the quality of a film’s subject matter and the quality of the acting, directing, cinematography, scripting, etc. that went into it. A movie with wonderful and inspiring subject matter may be spoiled by poor acting, a cliched script, clumsy editing, or any number of elements that a film critic would notice. Likewise, a morally offensive movie may have a great script, brilliant acting, etc.

  • All I have to say is… everybody in the theater applauded when this movie was over. It’s not too often you get that. They certainly didn’t think it was “too Catholic.”

  • Catholic means universal, and by definition there is no tunnel vision in Catholicism.

  • I think that the reason for religious freedom is that you cannot be Catholic unless you do it out of free will and hold the faith to heart and if other people make someone act catholic than they are not actually being Catholic.

  • I don’t think any actual Muslim can be a good leader simply because their faith says “be Muslim or we kill you.”.

  • “If your religion doesn’t respect the rights of other religions, it is lacking something.”

    Unless the Catholics in the movie actually did this, what was the point of this comment? Is Schindler’s List anti-Gentile because it focuses on how the Nazis primarily targeted Jews instead of encompassing the persecution of Roma, homosexuals, and people with disabilities as well?

  • The problem with atheists, humanists, and secularists is that they do not have a solid foundation for what they call ethics.

  • Roger Ebert is a dolt. I am being kind in calling him a dolt as far more coarse words also fit Ebert. However, these words will cause me to go to Confession, which is where I likely need to go anyway.

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  • This is the problem when a Secular Atheist tries to understand religion. It shows Ebert to be woefully ignorant of matters of faith.

  • “Too catholic”? Really!? Umm..Ebert…it would be kinda hard not to make it Catholic since it was about the persecution of Catholics! That’s like saying America is too American! I guess it goes to show what liberals and druggies have in common-the more into it they get, the more brain cells they lose.

  • He’s sorta being an idiot, since there were basically no other religions in Mexico…fighting for religious liberty meant fighting for the Church.

  • Credit should be given where credit is due: although Ebert is off-base here, and is indeed a secular liberal, he has a history of panning films that are mendacious, ignorant, or otherwise demeaning toward the Church, probably as a result of his own Catholic upbringing.

  • That some one as presumably educated as Roger Ebert had never heard of the Cristiados, or knew of the history of Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s, is a clear indication of the sad state of education in the U.S. But Ebert surely might have been expected to know Grahame Greene’s THE POWER AND THE GLORY and the various films and television shows made from it.
    I doubt he is a dolt; he seems simply ignorant; and proud of his ignorance.

  • Most critics don’t appreciate “The Faith” displayed in ANY movie, unless it is clearly & overtly disparaged. Americans should learn from this movie how “religious freedom” can be legislated away by corrupt leadership. The moves of our current leadership to control religious freedom should be acknowledged by ALL FAITHS, and especially the CHRISTIAN FAITH, as it seems to be in the crosshairs. The movie was well-done with superior acting. Sad, but then real life can be, and God forbid, government control of our lives will be something we ALL will regret.

  • First of all, Mr. Ebert’s review was not even remotely a pan. It had some criticisms, but also a lot of favorable things to say. “Pan” does not mean “didn’t give extravagant, unqualified praise to a movie that I liked.”

    I am not religious, certainly not Catholic, but I lived in Mexico for several years, am fluent and literate in Spanish, and return to Mexico frequently. While absolutely not an expert on Mexican history, I am much more conversant with the subject than most gringos.

    While the anti-clerical laws in Mexico went WAY too far, the underlying principle of separation of church and state is indispensable to the functioning of a secular democracy. And it is important to remember that these laws did not happen in a vacuum. The history of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico must be taken into account to give some contest. With rare exceptions the RCC in Mexico has always supported the landed aristocracy, the economic elites, and the politically powerful. It supported the physical and cultural conquest of indigenous peoples; with every troop of conquistadores came a priest to encourage them and provide moral justification for their actions. The Church brought the Inquisition to the New World. It opposed the movement for independence (Padre Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the 1810 revolution, who gave the famous “grito de la independencia” was defrocked and excommunicated before his execution), opposed the 1910 revolution as well as any and all efforts at democratization or land reform (quite possibly because the Church owned a huge amount of the best land in Mexico until after the 1910 revolution). While the Church has also sponsored charitable enterprises, schools and such, it’s hard to argue that, on the whole, the RCC has been a force for good in Mexico. At best its legacy is extremely mixed.

    While the Cristero rebellion was certainly in part a legitimate reaction to religious oppression, it was also in large part an effort by the landed elites to reclaim their privileges. Without excusing government atrocities, it is important to remember that the Cristeros committed their own, including the torture and execution of rural school teachers.

    I know a movie, even a long one, can’t portray every possible historical nuance, but the story of the Cristero revolution is much more complicated than this movie suggests, and it’s not always so easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. At least a little of those nuances and ambiguity would be nice.

  • ““Pan” does not mean “didn’t give extravagant, unqualified praise to a movie that I liked.””

    No, Ebert panned the movie for being too Catholic, precisely as I stated.

    “I am not religious, certainly not Catholic,”
    Do tell!

    “While the anti-clerical laws in Mexico went WAY too far, the underlying principle of separation of church and state is indispensable to the functioning of a secular democracy”

    The anti-clerical laws had nothing to do with Church state separation and everything to do with seeking to eradicate the Catholic Church and infringing on the religious liberty of the Mexican people.

    “RCC in Mexico has always supported the landed aristocracy, the economic elites, and the politically powerful.”

    Rubbish. The Church has opposed political forces that have sought to plunder her and impose restrictions on the religious liberty of the Church.

    “It supported the physical and cultural conquest of indigenous peoples; with every troop of conquistadores came a priest to encourage them and provide moral justification for their actions.”

    More rubbish. The Church actually extended every effort to protect the native peoples and was unceasingly critical of the depredations of the Spanish upon them, beginning with the priests who accompanied the conquistadores.

    “The Church brought the Inquisition to the New World.”

    It would be more precise to say that the Spanish brought the inquistion to the New World, since the inquisition in Spain and its dependencies functioned largely as an arm of the Spanish government. Compared to the usual treatment of the liberties of the Mexican people by most of the secular governments of the 19th and 20th centuries, the inquisition in Mexico at its worst was mild by comparison.

    “It opposed the movement for independence (Padre Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the 1810 revolution, who gave the famous “grito de la independencia” was defrocked and excommunicated before his execution), opposed the 1910 revolution as well as any and all efforts at democratization or land reform (quite possibly because the Church owned a huge amount of the best land in Mexico until after the 1910 revolution).”

    Padre Hidalgo was a better revolutionary than a priest and I would think that a Church State separation champion such as yourself would frown upon a cleric leading an armed revolt. In regard to the Church lands, most of those were stolen by Liberal governments in the Nineteenth Century. The Church attempted to survive in the chaotic Mexican Revolution and only opposed those forces that sought to destroy her.

    “While the Cristero rebellion was certainly in part a legitimate reaction to religious oppression, it was also in large part an effort by the landed elites to reclaim their privileges. Without excusing government atrocities, it is important to remember that the Cristeros committed their own, including the torture and execution of rural school teachers.”

    The Cristero rebellion was almost entirely an attempt of Catholics to preserve their religious freedom. Public schoolteachers in the thirties were attacked in cristero regions because they were imposing a socialist education, as the government called it, and one of the prime elements of that education was that God did not exist. This was at a time when the Church was suffering a pitiless persecution throughout Mexico and in some provinces, Tabasco comes to mind, priests were banned, churches burned, and priests and layman executed if they defied the persecutors.

  • I still say there is too much positive in his review to call it a “pan.”

    I think we shall just have to agree to disagree about the history of the RCC in Latin America. While certainly individual priests and other religious have done wonderful things (the late Archbishop Romero of El Salvador is a great hero of mine) the larger institution has generally not been on the side of the angels, so to speak.

    I do appreciate your printing opposing viewpoints, though, and taking the time to reply.

    I would like to clear up one thing. As an advocate of the separation of church and state, I believe that religious people, including priests or other clergy, have every right to participate in the political process, just like any other citizen, so no, I have no problem at all with Padre Hidalgo being one of instigators of the Mexican war for independence. One of the many ways the Mexican laws went overboard was to strip priests of voting rights. This was wrong, period.

    What I do object to is the RCC, or any church, acting as a government partner and imposing its religious dogma on everyone, whether they share that church’s religious beliefs or not. So it was not wrong for the Mexican government to end the Church’s participation in public schools. And while I agree with you that the schools should have not have been actively teaching against religion instead of maintaing neutrality, I don’t really think that that justifies the murder of schoolteachers.

  • Not sure what I did wrong with the italics, but only the phrase “just like any other citizen” should be italicized.

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