Monday, November 30, 2009

A Small Screen Gem For Every Catholic's DVD Library

Kappler:  "I own Rome; not you, not the Pope.  Just because you wear a frock--it won't protect you. Remember your gunrunner priest?"

O'Flaherty:  "I do remember him.  And so does every person in Italy who understands the meaning of freedom."

I literally just finished watching The Scarlet and the Black, the 1983 television movie based on a true story starring Gregory Peck as Msgr. Hugh O'Flaherty, a golfer, a boxer, a vatican diplomat and social butterfly, who managed to save thousands of escaped P.O.W.s during the Nazi occupation of Italy. The movie also stars Christopher Plummer as SS Colonel Herbert Kappler who became obsessed with capturing Msgr. O'Flaherty, but could never seem to catch him.

This is the only WWII film I've ever seen that really depicts the war from the point of view of the Church.  I came away from this film with a much clearer understanding of the kind of pressure that Pope Pius XII was under from all sides.  Hitler didn't just want to destroy the Church; he wanted to capture her, so he could install his own people and use her to further propagate heresy and advance his own agenda.  At the same time, the people were crying out to the Church to do something, and were openly critical of the Holy Father for not being as aggressive with the Nazis as they'd have liked him to be.  The Scarlet and the Black attempts (and in my opinion succeeds )to show the kinds of complex problems the Catholic Church faced during a time of great horror, particularly why she didn't race into action with guns blazing like so many think should have happened.

All in all, this is a film that all Catholics need to see.

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