I’m sure when I get around to watching Doubt I’ll find it to be well written and full of great performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and the crew. But, man oh man, remember a time when every single priest in the movies wasn’t portrayed as some sort of sexual deviant. When 99.8% of all priests (according to Prof. Philip Jenkins) have nothing to do with the sexual abuse scandal, you would think we could have a decent one show up on film somewhere.
That’s why I was so happy when I ran across Father McFerrin here from 1991’s Teenage Exorcist. The movie itself may be utterly stupid (there’s not even a teenage exorcist in it anywhere) but it was refreshing to see a diocesan priest portrayed in a way that basically resembles most of the ones I’ve run across over the years; nice guys doing their best to minister to the needs of their parishioners. Of course, in this movie, that includes the zombified ones, but you get the point. Don’t you love how, once the fire & brimstone doesn’t work, the father goes all pastoral on the undead? Switching techniques on the fly; that’s good seminary training there.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales gave a speech a few years back where he noted, “The priesthood has taken a bit of a knocking in these past few years and I suppose many people will have the impression, perhaps not entirely wrong, that we are, on the whole, a pretty poor lot! Of course, in one sense it is true because we priests know we are weak and sinful and do not live up to the promises that we have made. I am always moved, on the Feast of St Gregory, when I read in the Office of Readings how Gregory reflects on his ministry. He goes on about his weaknesses and he ends up with this wonderful passage: Who am I? What kind of a watchman am I? I do not stand on the pinnacle of achievement. I languish rather in the depths of my weakness. And yet the Creator and Redeemer of Mankind can give me, unworthy though I be, the grace to see life whole and the power to speak effectively of it. It is for love of Him that I do not spare myself in preaching Him. I think it is a marvelous description of who we are as priests and the way in which we try to see life 'whole' and to give ourselves in preaching Christ's truth and endeavoring to live it.”
And we’re all the better for their endeavor. Thanks, guys.