From the Archbishop's desk: February 2020

By Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

During the break in my routine after Christmas, I had time to watch some films I had been wanting to see. Top of my list was ‘The Two Popes’, with Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict.

The film is largely composed of an imaginary yet engaging dialogue between the two men which comes about because the future Pope Francis wants to resign as Archbishop of Buenos Aires and goes to Rome to push his request. Bishops have to resign when they reach 75 years of age. Cardinals have to do the same but usually hang on a bit longer because they can still vote for the pope until they are 80, so it wouldn’t look good if they were retired should a papal election occur.
Jonathan Pryce is very convincing in his role, not just because the words he says are often taken from Francis’ writings or recorded interviews, but he actually looks like Pope Francis. However, the filmmakers got it wrong about Cardinal Ratzinger. Anthony Hopkins looks nothing like Pope Benedict, and he portrays him as discourteous and very political in the run-up to the conclave in which he was elected.

My experience of him is quite the opposite; he was unfailingly well mannered and courteous with a very good memory for faces and names. I remember an American journalist saying that he was elected because he was the brightest man in the room. I would like to add that he was also one of the holiest men in the conclave too. Why don’t you try to watch it? It will get you thinking about the Church – and will give you some hope for its future.