Harry Forbes has for many years been the Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office for Film and Broadcasting. In 2005, LifeSiteNews.com pointed out that Forbes issued a glowingly positive review of the homosexual propaganda film "Brokeback Mountain". Yesterday, Forbes issued another positive review, this time for the film adaptation of the specifically anti-Catholic novel "The Golden Compass."
"The Golden Compass," is one of Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, which includes "Northern Lights" (re-titled "The Golden Compass"), "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass." Pullman wrote these books with the intention of indoctrinating children with atheistic values. Pullman told The Washington Post in 2001 that he was deliberately "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief."
The USCCB review approves the film even for adolescents, and dismisses concerns about the radically anti-Catholic nature of the books saying: "Most moviegoers with no foreknowledge of the books or Pullman's personal belief system will scarcely be aware of religious connotations, and can approach the movie as a pure fantasy-adventure. . . . Religious elements, as such, are practically nil."
LifeSiteNews.com spoke with the Catholic League about the review. The League has been one of the most vocal groups in warning about the dangers of the books, which will be given renewed interest from the upcoming film starring Nicole Kidman which is to be released next week.
The League did not take issue with the USCCB review praising the film for its artistic merit, but for its winking at the devastating anti-Catholicism of Pullman's trilogy of books of which "Northern Lights", the first one, is the basis for the Golden Compass movie.
Forbes' review says, "The film has already caused some concern in Catholic circles because of the author's professed atheism, and the more overt issue of the novels' negative portrayal of his (very much fictionalized) church, a stand-in for all organized religion."
The Catholic League told LifeSiteNews.com that the review by Forbes and John Mulderig (a member of Forbes' staff) presents an "inaccurate rendering" of the controversy.
"Philip Pullman's books do not portray a 'very fictionalized church,' one that is 'a stand-in for all organized religion.' They portray the Catholic Church. That is why he uses the term 'Magisterium,' (for the evil empire)," said the League.
The League says that the USCCB reviewers were "wrong" to say that it was 'a bit unfortunate' that Pullman chose this term Magisterium for the evil empire. "He deliberately chose it because his target from the very beginning has been Catholicism, not anything else. It was Pullman who said that 'I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.' Not to accept what the man says about himself shows no respect for his integrity," said the League.
In what the League calls "mind-boggling", the USCCB review actually congratulates the screenwriter for portraying the characters as demonstrating "free will" for their opposition to the Magisterium and then suggests that this is a reflection "entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching".
"To the extent, moreover, that Lyra (the central character) and her allies are taking a stand on behalf of free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium, they are of course acting entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching," writes Forbes. "The heroism and self-sacrifice that they demonstrate provide appropriate moral lessons for viewers."
The League countered: "Nazis are portrayed as having free will in movies, too. Should the screenwriters of this film be commended for reflecting Catholic values? Free will is indeed a Catholic value, but it is the object of free will that carries moral weight."
The USCCB review admits "There is, admittedly, a spirit of rebellion and stark individualism pervading the story," but adds that "only by defying the powers that be, can a scientist like Lord Asriel achieve progress." Reflecting, Forbes writes, "Pullman is perhaps drawing parallels to the Catholic Church's restrictive stance towards the early alchemists and, later, Galileo."
Of course, Pullman could also be drawing parallels to the Catholic Church's restrictive stance towards embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, and cloning.
The USCCB reviewers conclude, by suggesting that parents allow their children to not only view the film but also read the books, and "take the opportunity to talk through any thorny philosophical issues with their teens."
"Leaving the books aside," says the USCCB review, "and focusing on what has ended up on-screen, the script can reasonably be interpreted in the broadest sense as an appeal against the abuse of political power."
The Catholic League countered, "to say that the movie should be judged by "leaving the books aside" is to miss the point: The Catholic League has never objected to the film, per se, but we have objected to it on the grounds that it is bait for the books."
The League warns that The Golden Compass is the least offensive of the three books and is bait for the books with "sell atheism to kids in a stealth fashion." The League has produced a booklet against The Golden Compass film's soft sell for the spiritually dangerous book series. Catholic League President Bill Donohue notes that many Christian groups from all denominations have joined in the effort.
Forbes' 2005 USCCB glowing review of the homosexual film Brokeback Mountain was substantially altered after a LifeSiteNews.com readers issued numerous concerns to the Bishops Conference. (See coverage: .http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/dec/05121607.html) LifeSiteNews.com has retained a copy of the original glowing review for those interested.
See Forbes' USCCB review of The Golden Compass here:
To respectfully contact individual US Bishops:
See related story with links to several other reports on Golden Compass:
Ontario Catholic School Board Removes Anti-Catholic Book 'The Golden Compass' from Library
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