Films with a Pro-Catholic Message

I’ll be teaching a film literacy class this Fall, and we’ll be doing a unit on representations of religion in film.

I’ve been looking high and low for a recent film with a pro-Catholic message. I have a copy of The Scarlet and the Black, but am hoping for some options.

What would you suggest I go with?

How old is the class?

A movie that is amazingly Catholic is Ladder 49. This was done by Jay Russell, a director who has sworn to only produce good-quality films that promote family life.

There is a particularly amazing scene sequence involving baptism. At the time I saw this film, I was still not certain about becoming Catholic, and baptism was one of the big stumbling blocks. When I saw this baptism scene, everything fell into place and I understood the Catholic doctrine of baptism. (I made the decision to convert shortly after.)

There is overt Catholicism in the movie, which is set in Baltimore (heavily Catholic city).

There is a “mocking” scene in which one of the firefighters pretends to be a priest and hear a new recruit’s Confession. It’s part of the recruit’s initiation. I personally think it’s cute. At least it de-mystifies the Sacrament of Reconciliation and makes it something that Catholics do as part of their daily faith.

My favorite actor, Robert Patrick, is in this movie. In an interview a few months after the movie premiered, he discussed religion and said that he was considering converting to Catholicism. I believe it was after this movie that he began wearing five medals–a cross, a crucifix, a St. Patrick, and two other saints that I can’t remember. He always has those medals on, and other actors comment on them. Mr. Patrick hasn’t converted to Catholicism (yet), but he converted to Anglicanism, and often discusses his commitment to his faith and his church during interviews. It’s weird to hear an actor talk about going to Mass–usually they just talk about themselves!

So apparently, *Ladder 49 *made a real impression on Mr. Patrick. He seems very approachable–perhaps he would be willing to talk to your class about religion and Ladder 49. Or try contacting Jay Russell directly and ask him if any or all of the religion in the film was intentional.

Are these for college-age students? Here are some of mine.

  • A Man for All Seasons (1966 version) This is perhaps my favorite pro-Catholic movies.
  • The Mission
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s (I liked this as a kid when I saw it on TV)
  • Becket (1964)
  • Brideshead Revisited (with Jeremy Irons - not the new one) I know that some might think differently about it, but I read the book and saw the series and I actually thought it was pro-Catholic - especially by the end of the story. I wouldn’t show it to high school kids or younger, but I think college students could understand it, especially if presented well and if they also read the book.

There are two other independent movies that I really liked, but can’t remember the names. One is set in a Catholic Polish town during WWII and how a Jewish boy was protected by a Catholic family and the Catholic priest there. Willem DeFoe played the priest in that movie. The other was a Canadian film about a boy with a strong faith who worked to run this huge marathon hoping that it would cure his mother’s cancer. It was really touching. The priest was his coach. Gosh, I wish I could remember the names of the movies.

How about “Bella” and “The Nun’s Story”?

Dear God! I wouldn’t suggest any religious movie with him in it. He played Jesus (or at least a caricature of him) in The Last Temptation of Christ. :eek:

True, but this movie that I was talking about was actually very pro-Catholic. It placed the Church in a very good light during WWII. I’m judging based on each individual film, not on the kinds of films some of these actors have made before or since. I’m sure we could find films almost any actor or director have made which may be very questionable.

Sarabande, the one with the Polish priest helping to hide the Jewish boy is Edges of the Lord (which is a reference to the Real Presence in the movie). It is a pretty good movie, IMO. The scene where the priest is trying to catch the pigs to save the couple is…heartbreaking? Intense? Amazing? Hard to describe, but I always remember it.

Thank you so much for reminding me of the title. I couldn’t remember for the life of me. I totally agree. That scene was incredibly heartwrenching. I cried my eyes out. It was just nice, too, to be able to watch a WWII movie which showed that there were good Catholics out there who did help the Jews. You usually don’t see movies like that - either it’s everything bad about them or they were really not that into practicing their faith and just happened to be Catholic in name only who helped the Jewish people.

Is the class in a Catholic school?

Try ‘the Miracle of Fatima’ and ‘Song of Bernadette’, which naturally deal with Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes respectively. Very respectful, but they show the human side of the church and other officials (and others) in terms of their reaction to the events.

Another good one, for older students, is Molokai (about soon-to-be St Damien who worked with lepers on a Hawaiian island). Be careful with this one - apparently there were two versions made, one by the director and the other by the producers, quite different from each other. But of course you’re going to watch it yourself first, so you’ll see what you think.

Have to plug it, it has great Aussie actor David Wenham (from Lord of the Rings) playing Damien. :thumbsup:

It’s called The Edges of the Lord. Beautiful movie!

Going My Way

John Wayne’s The Quiet Man isn’t overtly Catholic, but has some nice Catholic imagery in it, and two of the characters are priests.
The Sound of Music* is a classic.

Lilies of the Field
I am David
Children of Men

Lilies of the Field

is my vote

If they’re older, you could go with The Passion of the Christ.

My husband and I watched Rocky II last night. I was surprised at how pro-Catholic and pro-family it was!

The Great Raid is also surprisingly pro-Catholic. It takes place during World War II in the Philipines, when the Japanese were in control. It centers around a campfull of American prisoners of war, the American troops planning to rescue them, and an underground movement that smuggles medicine into the camp.

There are a couple of priests that help the underground movement, and several of the soldiers are also Catholic. Plus it’s just an all-around great movie.

A-a-a-MEN! A-a-a-MEN! A-a-MEN! A-MEN! A-MEN! :whistle:

I HAVE to see this!!! My grandfather was a Filipino guerilla fighter during WWII. Two of his aunts, who were nuns, were beheaded by some Japanese soldiers during that time as well. They gave up their lives because of their faith and to help save the lives of these other women in their town. There were so many incredible stories of faith and heroics that came out of the Philippines and you hardly ever hear about them unless they are relatives or if you knew them. Funny enough, my other grandfather, an American, also fought in the Pacific and was in the Philippines. Thank you so much for posting it!

I Am David looks interesting; you can view a trailer at

I caught about half of Children of Men once while surfing channels; got intrigued. It’s quite violent, but it is also somewhat apocolyptic. Not recommended for young audiences. A disease had rendered all women sterile worldwide and the hopelessness that results is horrible. The story revolves around a man who, by default, must escort a pregnant woman (assumed to be the only one in the world) to a safe place. Along the way, his character is challenged, and he learns to sacrifice for the child and mother. Hope that isn’t a spoiler! I did finally get to see the whole story from the beginning again a couple months ago.

It is also a novel. Hmmm; maybe I’ll get it to take on vacation.

I would like to see some of Michael O’Brien’s books made into a movie; Father Elijah would be a great antidote to Angels & Demons, IMO. Probably would get “hollywoodized” in the process. It would need someone like Mel Gibson to keep it true to the way it was written.

My recommendation:
The Agony and the Ectasy (story of Michaelangelo)

And who can forget The Bells of St Mary’s!

God bless,

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