Someone needs to ask the US bishops conference (USCCB) movie reviewer, Harry Forbes what part of the concept "Catholic" he does not understand. Mr. Forbes gave a glowing review to the film, The Golden Compass, and put all American Catholic bishops on record as supporting the work of an atheist! Subsequently, New Line Cinema attempted to do a full-scale promotion of the movie using diocesan newspapers claiming that the bishops' movie office had declared the film to be "entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching." Just to set the record straight: this movie has been condemned or criticized by at least one Cardinal, several Archbishops and Bishops in the US and the Vatican's official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. In fact, the latter called it "the most anti-Christmas film possible," referring of course to its deliberate release during the Advent season. Wisely, the USCCB removed Mr. Forbes' positive review of the movie from their website as soon as the controversy started.
Mr. Forbes is entitled to his own opinion on any matter, but he is not entitled to give his own opinions in the name of our bishops. The bishops deserve better — Mr. Forbes deserves to be fired.
This matter goes deeper than just one incident. We can rightly tolerate honest mistakes and errors of judgment when they happen. We are all human, and we would all like that same tolerance directed toward us for our mistakes. What is less tolerable and cause for appropriate action is a pattern of malfeasance. Mr. Forbes has a track record of shaming our bishops with his upbeat reviews of films that do not remotely reflect the values of any Christian let alone the bishops.
In 2005, Harry Forbes gave such a positive review to the homosexual promotional film, Brokeback Mountain, that the bishops had to withdraw the shameless review and replace it with another. Still stinging from the priest scandals of 2002 and beyond, the review was not only morally wrong, it was imprudent, ill-timed and embarrassing. In his original review of the two homosexual lovers and their infantile problems, Forbes soft pedals the gross man-on-man sex scenes and ends by saying that the bishops' rating of the film indicates that "some adults" may have problems with the moral content of the movie. That's like saying that "some wives" may object to their husbands having affairs with other women.
Forbes' track record does not stop there. It has recently come to light that in 2005 he issued another glowing review for a salacious homosexual movie called Rent based on a Broadway production of the same name. LifeSiteNews has recently documented the offensive commentary which was posted on the Catholic News Service website; suffice it to say that the bishops should not have to be on record as supporting that one either.
What we are expecting is standard practice in the business world: namely, that those who present their company's (or church's) views to the public represent the views of their employers faithfully. If they make a mistake they can be forgiven and the damage repaired; but if they misrepresent their bosses consistently and on fundamental matters, they should be fired to defend the very integrity of those who they speak for in public. Simple as that!
Join me in defending our bishops from further travesty; please respectfully petition the USCCB to give this Forbes guy a nice shove out the door.
To express concerns, contact:
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archdiocese of Chicago
155 E. Superior Street
Chicago, IL 60611