US Bishops asked to Fire Chief Film Critic over Glowing Reviews for Brokeback and Compass

The Bishops of the United States are being asked to fire the chief movie reviewer for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  Harry Forbes, the Director of the USCCB Office for Film and Broadcasting, has reignited scandal by praising the film "The Golden Compass" which is based on an anti-Catholic novel.

Forbes caused similar controversy two years ago when he issued a glowing review in the name of the USCCB for the homosexual propaganda film "Brokeback Mountain".

Pete Vere, who has a written book on the author of The Golden Compass, spoke with about the USCCB review.  "Several bishops have spoken to me about this review and they are horrified at what has been done in their name," Vere told  "Certainly the USCCB has to revisit its rules for issuing movie reviews."  Vere's book co-authored by Sandra Miesel, Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantasy, is to be released by Ignatius Press before Christmas.

Fr. Tom Euteneuer, the President of Human Life International, has called on the US Bishops to fire Forbes and his subordinate John Mulderig who co-authored the review of The Golden Compass.  The HLI leader was incredulous that the USCCB review could recommend the film for children despite the fact that it admits the film has "occult elements" and carries a "sprit of rebellion". 

"The fact that these gentlemen could recommend this movie to children is just abhorrent to me. I really do believe these guys should be fired," Fr. Eueneuer told  "Whatever happened to rejecting Satan and all his empty work and empty promises."

The USCCB review notes the great artistry of the film, but such is no reason to approve of it warned Fr. Euteneuer who has taken part in exorcisms.  "St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11 that the devil comes dressed as an angel of light.  And this is very clearly what is happening.  They have taken an atheistic work and dressed it up as something good for kids."

Noting Forbes' former scandalous positive review of Brokeback Mountain, Fr. Euteneuer said, "The fact (the USCCB) didn't fire him at that time is what leads to this kind of thing.  When you don't rebuke irresponsibility in using an office to spread errors then it leads to more irresponsibility."

In a rare move, the US Catholic League last week publicly slammed the USCCB Golden Compass review in exclusive comments to (see: )

Vere told that as a canon lawyer he has concerns about the USCCB's positive review of The Golden Compass. "I recognize that the faithful turn to their bishops for guidance on issues affecting Catholic faith and morals. By giving The Golden Compass a positive review, it could appear to most Catholics that the U.S. bishops see nothing to be concerned about in Pullman's work," he said.

"This certainly is not the case, which is why Sandra Miesel and I have documented several of our concerns in Pied Piper of Atheism ( Ignatius Press is set to release this short book before Christmas. The book chronicles a number of ways in which Pullman's work, which is being marketed to children and young people, attacks the Church, undermines faith in God and promotes atheism. How else does one describe a book in which two twelve-year-olds set out to overthrow God before re-enacting the fall of Adam as a good thing?"

"As Catholic faithful we must alert our bishop and other good bishops as to what Forbes and Mulderig have written in name of the USCCB," says Vere in an upcoming column for The Wanderer. "Be respectful, but state our concerns bluntly, ask these bishops to investigate what happened, and why it happened. Demand that the bishops take appropriate corrective action. Demand that future movies are reviewed within the context of the good of souls – which in our canonical and theological tradition is the supreme law – and not merely on their artistic merit."

Vere suggests that this "should be clearly explained to Forbes, Mulderig, and other USCCB movie reviewers" and "If they choose not to abide by it, then the bishops have a moral duty to provide the faithful with reviewers who will."

The USCCB review is already causing damage by enticing Catholic audiences to see the movie.  Fiction writer and popular blogger Amy Welbourn reports that the ad agency for New Line Cinema which has released the film, is using the Forbes' review to promote the film via full-page ads in diocesan newspapers.

One key line in the ad agency's pitch to diocesan newspaper editors: "We've spoken extensively about this film with Harry Forbes, Director of the USCCB's Office of Film and Broadcasting."

To respectfully contact individual US Bishops:

The book 'Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantasy' by Pete Vere and Sandra Miesel is available here:

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  • Guest

    Thank you so much for this excellent background info & suggestions for action! I am grateful. Mary S.

  • Guest

    The teddy bear incident in Islamic Sudan sent an English teacher packing, promptly and with apologies, mind you. Let's see what the polar bear incident does in Christian (is it safe to say) US. Will Forbes and Mulderig join their buddies at the New York Times and make a holiday bonus on the talk circuits? Can the bishops prevent demonstrations in the streets shouting: Give us strongback not brokeback! See what happens. 

  • Guest

    If the USCCB didn't discipline this guy(s) for Brokeback Mountain why would they do anything about this movie review?  The Only reason I check the USCCB ratings is to determine how bad a movie is – if the secualr press gives it a glowing review and the USCCB gives it a glowing review, its a pretty sure bet its TRASH.  There have been few exceptions – if Decent Films gives a movie a favorable review THEN it is likely a family friendly movie.

        I said it before when CE posted the Brokeback Mountain review – the folks reviewing these movies are far more concerned with being artsy w/ Hollywood than faithful to the Church.  Why do we give them "air" time at CE?  These guys are confident in their "enlightened" and dissenting views simply because the have NOT been fired yet!

        Maybe the USCCB is worried about the media response to such a firing but there are good reasons to be vilified in the press!!  I'd much rather be attacked by the media for doing something right than be liked for my silence in the face of an internal attack.  Who needs enemies of the Church with guys like these doing the work for them?

        Not sure what the ties are between CE and USCCB but I know MANY who want to see CE FIRE the USCCB – can that be done or is there an obligation of obedience of some kind? 

        Our parish put out a flyer in the bulletin warning parents about this movie – giving websites to check to see what the REAL meaning of the movie is.  I hope more do the same.  Thanks for all you do CE!!!  God Bless, Kathleen

  • Guest

    The primary responsibility of the bishops of this country is to teach the Faith and promote the Gospel. The USCCB has taken upon itself the responsiblilty to make movie reviewing a part of that mission. Their movie reviewer, Harry Forbes, has seen fit to write glowing reviews of "Brokeback" (an anti-family film glorifying the "beauty" of homosexual relationships) and "The Golden Compass" (a film whose premise is a frontal attack on Christianity itself). I am reminded of Isaiah's prophecy "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…" (Is. 5:20). This man has no business reveiwing films for the USCCB (or any orthodox Christian organization, let alone Catholic). The sooner they show him the door the better. I hope they follow up by doing some damage control and critiquing this film the way they de-coded "The DaVinci Code."

  • Guest

    There is no tie in with CE and the USCCB, except that as faithful Catholics we try to pay respectful attention to what the bishops say and the direction they give.  We put up a warning about the USCCB movie reviews and provided links to other reviewers because we know how untrustworthy that department is.  But we include it for informational purposes. If nothing else it helps us keep tabs on what Forbes is up to.  I agree he should be fired — he should have been fired long ago. I'm surprised that this review still appears on the USCCB site this morning.  It seems pretty clear that there are entire departments in the USCCB that are completely divorced from the oversight of the bishops.  Maybe they just need to get rid of those entire departments.

  • Guest

    Amen, Mary!  If your eye offend you, pluck it out!!!  Let's pitch the USCCB movie review dept. and support faithful Catholic groups that review films for families – the Catholic faithful could, and should, be a powerful lobby for decent films.  If we can't have reliable, faithful, CATHOLIC reviews from our bishops then the bishops should stop pretending – who, exactly, is in charge of the movie reviews at the USCCB?  Our own bishop is recovering from prostate cancer, I doubt I'd get far contacting his office.   KMc

  • Guest

     "….I recognize that the faithful turn to their bishops for guidance on issues affecting Catholic faith and morals. "


    How can we, the faithful, even DO this anymore??  I assume there are good bishops out there somewhere, but, sadly, certainly not in my diocese!!  *I* certainly don't trust them on issues relating to faith and morals,…unless i do the opposite of what they say!!!

     –You have made us for yourself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless until they rest in You. — St. Augustine

  • Guest

    At their last meeting the bishops seemed to be attempting to trim some of the organizational "fat;"  perhaps the most prudent thing they could do is to simply shut down this particular office for "budgetary reasons." 

     We happen to have a pretty good bishop in our diocese, so I honestly continue to have hope for the future.  We even have some good priests (even though many are still overly infected with relativism and the noxious stuff that seeped into the Church in the silly seventies).  I even heard a priest tell people last Sunday that to fail to go to Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was a mortal sin.  What a refreshing thing that was.

     The Catholic high school in our area has a principal who really wants to bring the heritage of the faith (including things like Dante) to his students.  This in an area of the country where there are a lot more culture Catholics than thinking, faithful ones.

     We always need to remember that it takes longer to set an ocean liner on a corrected course than a rowboat.  We need to continue to pray for the Holy Father and our bishops (even the ones who seem dissident) as course corrections get made.  Hopefully those course corrections will include getting rid of the people in the movie review office.

  • Guest

    If ANY bishops need our prayers, it's the ones who dissent!  Pray to God that he give them repentance, obedience, and grace.

  • Guest

    I think it is also ok for us to pray that Rome come to the rescue of the faithful in this country who are being oppressed by certain bishops. Dear Holy Father we beg you for help.

  • Guest

    Thanks CE for all of these articles—I shared this USCCB Review and the rebuttal with my Bible Study group this morning.  More than one chin hit the table.  There are many folks who look at this office of the USCCB for guidance.  Glad I could shed some light.  Thanks for keeping me informed.


    Jesus, I Trust in You!

  • Guest

    "New Line Cinema which has released the film, is using the Forbes' review to promote the film via full-page ads in diocesan newspapers."

    I smell a rat!

  • Guest



    I think that Rome does need to rescue the Church in this country.  I know a lot of folks who would take umbrage to this statement; but I am a Roman Catholic – not an "American Roman Catholic".  I trust the Magesterium completely – not a bunch of "Cafeteria Catholics" who would rather pick and choose what they believe. 

  • Guest

    If the bishops are fouling up it's not because of a lack of prayers. Every day, many times a day, in every diocesan parish the name of the bishop comes up during the Prayers of the Faithful. Only the pope gets more prayers on his behalf.

    There is a huge, stinking rat here PTR. I have not been able to get through to my archdiocese. We need to push on this one till the film review office is fumigated and padlocked.

  • Guest

    I'm glad we're on the same side goral!  And I am SO glad you and others are willing to step forward to right a wrong.  The "let somebody else fix it" attitude is pervasive.


    Jesus, I Trust in You!

  • Guest

    For a more Catholic, yet critical, eye on the movies, I prefer to go to  

    Steven Greydanus is a Catholic movie reviewer with a sensitivity to both the art form and authentic Catholicism. He also is not interested in just cushy silly films just because there is an explicit Christian message.  I like this since I enjoy the art form as well as the content. 

    He is worth your reviewing, and his comments on The Golden Compass are coming soon.  He also has some great "oldies" to recommend for family viewing as well as some surprising insights on great new, non-explicitly Catholic films like "Jesse James".


    Advent Blessings to all. 


  • Guest

    We used to be able to carry his reviews all the time, but now he works for a print publication and they are embargoed for some weeks after they are written. He remains a good friend of CE though and won't steer a family wrong on what is good for the kids to see.

  • Guest

    Why is it so difficult to get an e-mail address for the heads of the USCCB, or bishops? It tells me they don't really want to know our opinion and think many of us are nuts. They'd rather listen to the experts who always get them into trouble like in the abuse scandal.