Hollywood’s superstar actor Matt Damon may lead in new film regarding a Roman Catholic Church in Boston, its Archbishop Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, and the uncovering of a series of sex scandals that rocked the community. The film centers on the staff of the Boston Globe that discovers Cardinal Law had been protecting abusive priests by relocating them to different parishes where they continued to offend. The investigative journalism thriller is planned to be stylized after All the President’s Men (1976), produced by DreamWorks and Participant Media and directed by Tom McCarthy.
Though Damon’s resume of work ranges from drama to action to comedy, he has never shied away from films with strong political or social commentary. Starting with the Bourne Identity Trilogy (2002-2007), Syriana (2005), and The Good Shepherd (2006) to his more recent works like Promised Land (2012) and Elysium (2013), Damon’s choice to star in this unnamed film would surprise no one.
For Hollywood, using explosive and unexpected scandals as story material is the bread and butter of generating films, whether the final product is fictional or factual.
Particularly at a national level, when there is need of relaying an idea or message, film is an incredible method of communication. Take examples such as Zero Dark Thirty (2012), The Ides of March (2011) and Arlington Road (1999) which incorporated the most impressing current events and repurposed them for both the reasons of entertainment and commenting upon national hot topics. But aside from politics, films have the versatility of memorializing and narrating upon other parts of our society.
Namely, bolder– or otherwise more passionate– filmmakers have eagerly accepted the challenge of taking on the Catholic Church abuse scandals. In the form of dramatic documentaries, these films have revealed the darkest and most tragic secrets that have affected millions in the Catholic community. Some of these award-winning films like Deliver Us from Evil (2006) and The Boys of St. Vincent (2002) are unbearable to watch. Other prompt much needed attention and thought on part of the surrounding communities.
For the Roman Catholic Church, dealing with press—whether bad or good—is part of any organization’s daily to-do. Despite media depiction of these scandals, as one of the most revered religious organizations with the richest cultural history, the Church has successfully accomplished great works for communities around the world and thereby continues to be a global beacon of light to which peoples look.
Now turning a new leaf, the Roman Catholic Church welcomes Pope Francis, the outspoken, charismatic leader who addresses the Catholic congregation with straight-forward honesty regarding “predator priests.”
During Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican City, Pope Francis delivered his direct homily regarding this matter. He stated that these sins occur due to a poor relationship with God. There will be no leniency for priests who abuse the community members because he believes that truth and justice prevail over protecting the Church.
Pope Francis has been seen using iPads, tweeting, auctioning off his Harley for charity and taking creative steps in assembling his team of officials that his predecessors have not yet done. He is, in many ways, a breath of fresh air for the Catholic communities, relieving especially the younger generation of Christians from the stuffy, antiquated and sometimes distant vibe that’s often cloaked Catholicism.
With new Pope Francis and a new agenda for the Catholic Church, horror stories of abuse may be a thing of the past and the future for all communities look brighter with every one of his encouragements.
So, when Hollywood and daring filmmakers decide to take on abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis might be their biggest advocate. Though it’s doubtful that he will endorse any negative and secular undertones or comments defacing the Church, it is an opportunity to communicate with worldwide audiences regarding the reality of what has been transpiring and what is being done to fix it – and not sweep it under the rug. Perhaps this unnamed film will be the last of its kind as a new era opens up, bridging the ideologies of the Vatican to the ideologies of—arguably–an industry whose livelihood survives on iconoclasm.