Dec 26, 2005

Warning: R-rated USCCB film office review

The USCCB Film Office review of the homosexual propaganda film "Brokeback Mountain" wasn't the only review in the December 23 Tidings that gives scandal. The "Mrs. Henderson Presents" review and its A-III (okay for adults) rating are w-r-o-n-g.

Yes, the USCCB office writes the reviews and rates the movies, but diocesan papers such as The Tidings should refuse to run reviews that give scandal.

"Mrs. Henderson Presents" is about a theater in London in World War II that has nude shows. Our U.S. bishops' film office calls the film a "patriotic true-life story," "well-made," "decorous," and having "predictably fine performances."

The film office of our hierarchy admits that the film has "Partial female nudity throughout, a fleeting scene of full-frontal male and female nudity, a premarital affair with tragic results, some innuendo, a smattering of profanity and rough language. (A-III, R)"

For many people that description will be an occasion of sin in itself. The film's A-III rating is proof of "ratings creep" downward at our bishops' film office; they're calling worse and worse things acceptable.

Cardinal Mahony in the past has defended nudity in films. The Catechism says of modesty that it: "means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden" (2521); "inspires one's choice of clothing" (2522); and "protests...against the voyeuristic exploration of the human body...and the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things" (2523).

The Catechism (2525) adds, "Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint. Purity of heart brings freedom from widespread eroticism and avoids entertainment inclined to voyeurism and illusion."

And St. Matthew (5:28) quotes Jesus: "But I say: Anyone who even looks with a woman with lust in his eye has already committed lust with her in his heart."

Throughout the 20th century, Popes said a production code -- one that prevents evil from being filmed, rather than today's system of letting evil be filmed and then grading it -- is the way to stop indecency in the film industry. In the 1930's, our U.S. bishops -- a far different set than today's -- used a threat of national boycott by Catholics that forced Hollywood into accepting a decency code that kept filth out of films. The result was Hollywood's Golden Age of classic cinema.

Let's tell Cardinal Mahony and the rest of our hierarchy: Bring back the Decency Code -- and while you're at it, clean up the USCCB Film Office!


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