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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week recommendation II: "The Crime of Father Amaro"

The movie is based on a novel written in 1875, which means that priests haven’t been that holy for a long, long time. If they ever were. "The Crime of Father Amaro" was nominated for best foreign movie.

Father Amaro (played by Gael García Bernal) arrives to a small town in Mexico, where he is sent to learn from the elderly priest in charge. He starts celebrating mass and is admired by the extremely Catholic inhabitants, especially by Amelia, a young woman who teaches catechism to the children. Amaro soon notices that the older priest has an affair with Amelia’s mother, but says nothing. He also says nothing about the construction of a hospital that is financed by drug money.

"You will go to heaven, but there is room for only one Virgin there

On the other side, there is another priest who is criticized for helping a leftist guerrilla. He eventually will get defrocked, but will continue to help the insurgents.

Having feelings for Amaro, Amelia dumps her boyfriend Ruben, a journalist and an atheist who has proof about the relationship between the church and the area drug lord. He writes an article for the local newspaper, but the church threatens it with withdrawing their advertisements from the newspaper. Ruben is fired and then his home vandalized by angered Catholics and his father results injured

Not even God can escape this temptation

Amelia announces she is pregnant with Amaro’s child. Despite the words about love being a blessing, Amaro refuses to acknowledge that he is the father, since that would threaten his career as a priest. Amelia asks Ruben to marry her, but he refuses. Amaro then arranges for Amelia to have an abortion. At night, he takes her, along with a devout catholic woman to a clinic, but she starts bleeding profusely. Amaro tries to get her to a hospital, but she dies in the way.

Days later, Amaro celebrates mass, while the town thinks that Ruben was the one who impregnated Amelia and Amaro saved her.

Oh, yeah, thank you guys for blaming the atheist.
Now come and keep drinking the cool-aid

The depiction of the admiration the people feel for their priests (“Father Amaro is a living Saint”) is a great reflection of reality, a reality in which people, especially poor and uneducated, tend to blindly trust their priests, pastors, and in general, anyone who claims to represent God. A sad reality that ended up in thousands of children being abused.

Another thing worth noting is that among the “bad” priests, there is a good one who chooses to serve where he is needed. More than trying to patch the Catholic Church’s reputation, I think this represents pretty well that those who get the most recognition aren’t usually the best ones when it comes to “serving God”.

There is also the fact that Amaro feels guilty for what he does, at least at first. But then, he finds a way to reconcile his conscience with his priestly duty and then keep doing what he does, meaning, Amelia. At least this time it was a willing young woman instead of a boy.

Finally, the people’s zeal about defending their priests against those who criticize them depicts pretty well the kind of sheep religion breeds.

Overall, The Crime of Padre Amaro is a great drama that will have viewers, both believers and non-believers entertained and outraged. And maybe, might make some believers rethink their ideas about priests, pastors and other snake-oil dealers.

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Blasfema libremente

"Que esté permitido a cada uno pensar como quiera; pero que nunca le esté permitido perjudicar por su manera de pensar" Barón D'Holbach
"Let everyone be permitted to think as he pleases; but never let him be permitted to injure others for their manner of thinking" Barón D'Holbach