HBO’s latest Catholic-bashing series, The Young Pope, presents the first American Pope as an amoral, power-hungry, straight-up jerk. Actor Jude Laws stars as the 47-year-old Lenny Belardo, who becomes Pope Pius XIII as a result of a corrupt Cardinal.
Channeling Hollywood leftism, the 10-episode series, which premiered on January 15, presents a Vatican where cardinals are too busy for confession, the Pope’s old mentor attempts to commit suicide, and the Holy Spirit is “just another name for Voiello,” the Vatican’s Secretary of State.” Hollywood worships at the altar of sexual deviance and extreme violence, so of course it salivates at the idea of a corrupt Catholic Church. Unsurprisingly, CNN called Law’s character “quirky and eccentric” while The New York Times hailed the show as “gorgeous and appealingly weird.”
In the first scene, in what luckily turns out to just be a dream, the Pope stands in front of a cheering crowd to declare that people have forgotten “to masturbate, to use contraceptives, to get abortions, to celebrate gay marriages,” and a litany of other liberal talking points before declaring that the “road to happiness” is “freedom.”
As if the show couldn’t be more ridiculous, the Pope forces the Vatican’s confessional priest to reveal the sins said at confession. Promising the priest a cardinalship, he urges, “Come on now, tell me people’s sins.” Then, the Pope goes as far as to suggest that he doesn’t even believe in God. “I do not believe in you. I don’t believe you’re capable of saving me from myself,” the Pope tells God during confession. When the priest expresses his concern, the Pope clarifies, “I’m saying I don’t believe in God,” before following with, “I was joking.”
In another scene, while a group of cardinals discuss the election of the Pope, HBO does a fantastic job of painting Catholics as both racist and corrupt by having one white cardinal say to an African cardinal, “The naiveté of you Africans is really touching. You really believe that the Holy Spirit elects the Pope?” The cardinal goes on to explain how Cardinal Voiello is “pulling the strings,” and was responsible for electing the young Pope, a “telegenic puppet” who “can be manipulated.”
Even without the obvious conniving demeanor that constantly surrounds the Pope, the character is bursting with corrupt traits. Along with constantly having a cigarette between his lips, Pope Pius XIII calls himself “a contradiction, like God,” demands a storage facility for all of the gifts he will be receiving as the new pope, and even claims that he has no sins other than that his “conscience does not accuse me [the Pope] of anything.”
I don’t know what’s more offensive, the mockery of the Catholic Church or the utter waste of Jude Law’s talent.
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