Polish Movie About Gay Catholic Priest Stirring Controversy

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    (Photo: Reuters/Eric Thayer)
    The primarily Catholic tradition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday are not the only way Christians of many denominations begin Lenten season. Many simply make a vow to fast, pray, or participate in other acts of faith during this time, February, 2012.
By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
February 12, 2013|2:58 pm

A new Polish movie premiering at this year's Berlin film festival is causing a stir because of its focus – a gay Roman Catholic priest.

"In the Name of" premiered on Friday in Berlin, and is expected to be especially controversial in Poland, a country which is still heavily Catholic, and may be troublesome to conservative Christians. The movie follows the life of a gay Roman Catholic priest who suffers through loneliness while working with troubled youths in Poland involved with drugs and alcohol.

"They (the Catholic Church) don't want to change anything. The church does not fit in with modern society," Director Malgoska Szumowskatold said, according to Reuters.

"Out of this conflict only bad things happen. I think they are extremely closed and intolerant ... But I am not a politician or an intellectual," Szumowskatold added, while explaining that the movie was not supposed to be about an "oppressive church" but about "love."

The director revealed that she had spoken with many priests while doing research for the film. They told her that life in the priesthood was very hard and lonely.

"We have very strong discussions now in Poland, about the church, about homosexuality. We now have priests leaving the church," the 39-year-old filmmaker continued.

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A Hollywood Reporter review of the film noted, "The new film's tolerance, propped up by a careful distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia, is unlikely to arouse much controversy among the kind of art house audiences the Memento title will attract, though it could provoke protest from traditional Catholic groups."

ScreenDaily said in its review: "As a humane, non-judgmental look at enduring contradictions of Catholicism and mortal sexuality, it's a film to be admired, if not worshipped."

Official Roman Catholic Church doctrine describes homosexual acts as a "violation of divine and natural law," but says that "people tempted by homosexual desires, like people tempted by improper heterosexual desires, are not sinning until they act upon those desires in some manner."

Catholics have also often opposed claims that their defense of traditional marriage can be viewed as "homophobic" or "intolerant."

"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection," the Catechism of the Catholic Church states.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York did not return repeated phone messages and emails from The Christian Post seeking comments about the movie by press time.

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