Can a priest watch films?


#1

This might seem like a stupid question, and I apologize, but here goes:

I am a film buff. And a big one. When it comes to what I want to be in life, I’ve narrowed it down to two choices: filmmaker or priest. And since the deal I made with my parents is that I graduate college before entering the seminary, chances are that I will be going to film school.

Now I know that a priest can obviously watch movies. I’m positive they see movies like: *Therese, Passion of the Christ, St. John Bosco, The Bells at St. Mary’s *, and Scarlet and the Black. But the thing is, while I like these movies, I also like films like Alfred Hitchcock, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Quentin Tarantino,Scorsese, Clint Eastwood (love that guy) and films like that. I enjoy films like these as well as thrillers and horror films.

As a film buff and someone going into film school, these films and directors are a great influence to filmmaking and have impacted the film industry. I view them as art. Sometimes, instead of just watching the story, I concentrate on the editing of the film and how the director did certain things, sort of analyzing it to see how I can do something like that and learn from it. These guy and films I listed above are very important when it comes to film.

The order of priests that I want to join are in education and youth and I was hoping that I would teach TV Production in high school (along with religion, obviously) because it is a passion of mine and something I know and am good at.

So really my question is, can priests watch films like the ones stated above and by those directors?

Sorry if this is a stupid question…I’m curious.


#2

Of course a priest can watch films. Just as much as he can collect stamps or be a keen jogger or a mountain climber while on vacation.

A priest doesn’t check in all his individuality at the door when he enters seminary. His days off are his to do with as he pleases.

Now obviously the choice of films that a priest chooses to view are to be thought about with care: naturally he wouldn’t want to give scandal by going to see an X rated film or something like that, but there’s nothing to stop him using his spare time to go and watch the latest Star Trek film or any other decent movie.

A good friend of mine, who is recently ordained, is a big fan of Doctor Who. My Parish Priest builds model railways. If, God willing, I am ever able to commence training for the priesthood, I’ll still keep my hand in at computer programming, just because I enjoy it.

Whether or not you can combine your hobby with priesthood in a ‘professional’ capacity is another matter. Maybe you could do work on vocation films or multimedia training courses or something?

(Oh, and cool avatar picture, btw. St John Bosco is one of my favourite saints)


#3

Obviously I wouldn't go see anything rated X, but I would go see the latest film by Tarantino or Clint Eastwood or Wes Craven for example, which are usually rated R. I really don't see a problem with watching them, but I was just wondering. Film is a passion that I don't want to give up and I love watching these filmmakers.

I have seen websites where priests talk about Catholic filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese and talks about the underline Catholic tones in their work. I think that that is pretty interesting. And while most of the screenplays I write are about very sinful people, they carry a story of redemption and hope. I've read that some of these filmmakers stories can be read like stories of redemption (like Taxi Driver)

But I was just curious, because sometimes I don't know if there's a rule or something to this. I don't want to give up film.

And yeah, Don Bosco is one of my favorites. I want to become a Salesian priest actually (DB founded the Salesians).


#4

Well, to put your mind at rest, I know of no reasons why a diocesan priest would not be able to indulge in a hobby of film-making or visiting the cinema.

For religious orders that might be different of course: it would depend on their rules. If you take a vow of poverty you'd clearly not have the money to do such a thing.

(I expect you don't need the recommendation since I'd be surprised if you didn't already know of it, but "The Spiritual Writings of Saint John Bosco" is an excellent book, if you can get hold of it).


#5

I think an important question to answer before undertaking all of this is, What are the qualifications for Seminary? I was under the impression that one had to have a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy?

In which case, your college degree would have to be in Philosophy, wouldn’t it? :confused:


#6

So long as the priest does not scandalize others by his film viewing, or scandalize himself by not discerning enough about a potentially problematic film ahead of time (and I admit some films will not be acceptable with any level of pre-viewing discernment :eek:), It should not be a problem. There may in fact be some merit to knowing what others are seeing.

My family has a priest friend who loves movies. The loudest I ever heard him laugh anywhere was while watching this scene (scroll to 19 seconds in) :rotfl:


#7

Believe me my friend, there are NO stupid questions. Well, I take that back. Only grad students in English (Which I am one of) can ask stupid questions! ;)


#8

[quote="manygift1spirit, post:6, topic:208410"]

My family has a priest friend who loves movies. The loudest I ever heard him laugh anywhere was while watching this scene (scroll to 19 seconds in) :rotfl:

[/quote]

That's one of the best movies in the world!


#9

I agree with the previous poster: priests don't check their individuality at the door.

Priests can certainly watch secular films. I know many that do (and nuns, too!). I knew a priest who went and saw "American Pie" in the theater when it came out. :eek: Since he worked primarily with young adults, he felt he needed to sort of keep his finger on the pulse of what the youth were being exposed to.

You can use many films in various catechetical ways, though you have to do so carefully.

Prudence is very important. You want to be attentive to the potential for scandal with some of those rated R movies. Getting such films via NetFlix is one thing. Standing in line with the Youth Group for the Midnight showing is quite another. You'll just have to work out the right boundaries in prayer (and hopefully in discussion with other older, wiser priests).


#10

[quote="Joe_5859, post:9, topic:208410"]
I agree with the previous poster: priests don't check their individuality at the door.

Priests can certainly watch secular films. I know many that do (and nuns, too!). I knew a priest who went and saw "American Pie" in the theater when it came out. :eek: Since he worked primarily with young adults, he felt he needed to sort of keep his finger on the pulse of what the youth were being exposed to.

You can use many films in various catechetical ways, though you have to do so carefully.

Prudence is very important. You want to be attentive to the potential for scandal with some of those rated R movies. Getting such films via NetFlix is one thing. Standing in line with the Youth Group for the Midnight showing is quite another. You'll just have to work out the right boundaries in prayer (and hopefully in discussion with other older, wiser priests).

[/quote]

I'm still wondering whether film school provides the right kind of a degree for entry into Seminary. :confused:


#11

[quote="jmcrae, post:10, topic:208410"]
I'm still wondering whether film school provides the right kind of a degree for entry into Seminary. :confused:

[/quote]

There are seminarians who never went to college, so I assume they start from the very beginning at the seminary, so why can't I?


#12

[quote="SalesianSDB, post:11, topic:208410"]
There are seminarians who never went to college, so I assume they start from the very beginning at the seminary, so why can't I?

[/quote]

There is such a thing as Junior Seminary, for 14 to 16-year-olds, but I don't think you can go to Junior Seminary if you have already finished high school. I'd check into it, if I were you. Regular Seminary is post-grad, I do know that for sure.


#13

[quote="jmcrae, post:12, topic:208410"]
There is such a thing as Junior Seminary, for 14 to 16-year-olds, but I don't think you can go to Junior Seminary if you have already finished high school. I'd check into it, if I were you. Regular Seminary is post-grad, I do know that for sure.

[/quote]

My parish priest graduated high school but never went to college and many other priests I know went this route and they would be too old for junior seminary.


#14

[quote="jmcrae, post:10, topic:208410"]
I'm still wondering whether film school provides the right kind of a degree for entry into Seminary. :confused:

[/quote]

I was under the impression that it's not the KIND of degree that matters, but having a degree at all; I think as long as you have a bachelor's your fine... Though, Salesian raises a good point.


#15

This is from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Maimi, Fl

Before training in theology, the Church requires a seminarian to have training in philosophy ***in a seminary setting***.  St. John Vianney College Seminary offers a Pre-theology certificate program to those men who have already attained a Bachelors degree or higher.  This program offers the necessary foundations in formation required by the Church for advancement to theological studies.  

I'm assuming "in a seminary setting" means I can take it in the seminary.


#16

[quote="SalesianSDB, post:11, topic:208410"]
There are seminarians who never went to college, so I assume they start from the very beginning at the seminary, so why can't I?

[/quote]

Indeed. I know priests from all sorts of backgrounds. I think if you get your undergraduate degree in theology or philosophy, you might shorten the amount of time you would be in seminary, but it's not a prerequisite for getting in.


#17

SDB, have you ever heard of John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego? Communications Media is one of their specialties and they also have a pre-theology program for seminarians which is taken concurrently with any other program.


#18

This sounds like the way to go. :thumbsup:


#19

I can only speak for the UK: I only have a diploma in computers (essentially an Associate Degree, I think) and I was accepted for Seminary a few years ago (I postponed for various reasons). Nobody said anything about requiring a degree, although most entrants do complete a degree first.

Some seminary entrants in the UK are 18 years old straight from school (although that’s quite rare nowadays).

It occurs to me that the reason most entrants have a degree is that the calling to priesthood most often matures during one’s University training with exposure to Catholic chaplaincies, faith groups, etc, in a more adult sense.


#20

I emailed the Paulist Fathers yesterday not expecting much, but I got a really fast reply telling me all the information I asked for. To my surprise and great satisfaction, many of their films have Catholic themes but are not explicitly Catholic films (like films on the life of a saint). Don't get me wrong, I like those movies, but there isn't much creative room in them, which is something I love (conceiving an idea and carrying it out).

Their vocations director then said he forwarded my email to the order's production company and would ask other priests in the order who are in the filmmaking side to contact me.

I've never really considered this order. I was pretty much set on joining the Salesians, but this got me considering their order.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.