World: How the movie Silence “teaches” and “justifies” apostasy

Source: FSSPX News

American filmmaker Martin Scorsese, whose past work includes the scandalous movie The Last Temptation of Christ, examines the issue of the Catholic Faith in a cinematographic work entitled Silence. Inspired by a novel by Japanese writer Shosaku Endo, published in 1966, the film was released on December 23, 2016 in the US and will open on February 8, 2017, in France.

Actor Liam Neeson interprets a Jesuit priest.

The story takes place in the 17th century. Two Jesuits travel to Japan to find Fr. Ferreira, who disappeared “while attempting to spread the teachings of Catholicism.” According to website AlloCiné, which reviews every movie shown in France, they discover “a country where Christianity is illegal and its followers persecuted,” and they must carry out “in secrecy this perilous quest that confronts their faith with the worst of trials.”

Quoted by magazine Première on August 22, 2016, lead actor Liam Neeson explains that the film centres on “the question of faith:” “Does God exist? We wonder that all the time. What is the meaning of life? What is faith? Why do we believe? Why do we get up in the morning? It’s fundamental, and this is what the film addresses, dramatizing these questions in an exceptional way.” The director himself claims this faith is “still in him.” According to news agency cath.ch on January 4, 2017, Martin Scorsese recounts that he entered minor seminary when he was 14, and was expelled a year later for a breach of discipline. But his “spiritual quest” “stayed with” him as soon as he “began to think about the way in which it should express itself” in his “daily actions.”

Silence was shown in a private screening at the Vatican on November 29, 2016. The next day, Pope Francis received the American filmmaker with his wife and children, together with the film producer. According to Radio Vatican, on November 30, the 15-minute meeting was “cordial”. The Pope told his guests that he had read the Japanese novel on which the film is based. He spoke of the fruits of the Jesuit presence in Japan as well as the Museum of 26 Martyrs that was opened last year in Nagasaki in commemoration of the Japanese Christians who suffered persecution following the illegalization of Christianity in the 16th century.

En route to Paris on January 12th to introduce his film, Martin Scorsese spoke the next day to Paris Match. He referred to his “obsession” for this story. He declared himself to be “troubled by the lack of spirituality in our era in this technological world.” According to him, Shosaku Endo’s novel is “a dialogue with those things that cannot be understood or grasped, those things that cannot be defined.” He makes us “feel how much spirituality is a part of human nature and nourishes us.”

In less descriptive fashion, on December 27, website reinformation.tv offered a translation of a well-argued criticism by Brad Miner for American site The Catholic Thing. The author points out that “Endo’s book (and Martin Scorsese’s new film version of it) isn’t about martyrdom; it’s about avoiding it. Above all, the authorities want apostasy (sincere or not), and most of the main characters apostatize.”

For The Catholic Thing, Scorsese’s film “is not a Christian film by a Catholic filmmaker, but a justification of faithlessness: apostasy becomes an act of Christian charity when it saves lives, just as martyrdom becomes almost satanic when it increases persecution.” According to Brad Miner, Scorsese goes even farther: since Christ did not prevent His own martyrdom, it is He who, somehow, in this infernal logic, bears responsibility for the torments, the pains, the suffering of those who followed Him until the end.”

This criticism is confirmed by the Spanish-language website Religión en Libertad on January 10. Fr. Jorge López Teulón considers that Silence is a “bad” film because it “teaches” and “justifies” apostasy, in the name of refusal of suffering. Moreover, Scorsese claims to demonstrate that Catholicism is incompatible with Japan, all the while treating Buddhism and Christianity as equals. The Spanish priest sees ultimately “a film that attacks the truths of the faith directly, a film that takes it upon itself to correct Christ and contradict the very Word of God, revealed in Scripture.”

On his blog Chiesa, Vaticanist Sandro Magister quotes a criticism of the auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron. The American prelate points out that “the dominant secular establishment will always prefer Christians who are hesitant, uncertain, divided, and anxious to privatize their religion.” On the contrary, Scorsese presents “ardently religious persons” as “dangerous, violent,” and “not particularly intelligent.”

Ultimately, as Brad Miner emphasizes on The Catholic Thing, the radical fidelity that is required of Catholics, even unto death, is cast into discredit—that same fidelity that “opens the gates of heaven.”

Sources: cath.ch – AlloCine – Paris Match – reinformation.tv – Lespresso – trad.benoitetmoi – DICI no. 348 dated January 20, 2017)