Rick McGinnis writes:
When The Young Pope was announced last year, there was no reason to believe that the show would be anything but a potboiler with an agenda, an upscale quality cable version of Dan Brown’s idiotic Da Vinci Code series. It has been a long time – virtually my whole life – since the movies were sympathetic to the papacy in particular or Catholics in general. Rumours spread that the show would particularly target conservative Catholics with its satire, in what looked like a televised polemic advocating for the liberalization of the Church, proclaiming its irrelevance or even its hoped-for abolition. (…)
The cardinals who had elected an unknown, obscure American in the hopes of using him as a puppet for careful liberalization – led by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Voiello – were shocked at his sudden intransigence. But as the elderly cardinal passed over in favour of Belardo – his onetime mentor, Cardinal Spencer (James Cromwell) – points out angrily to Voiello, “the young are always more extreme than the old.” (…)
I’m sure many readers will be scandalized by The Young Pope, but I can’t think of another movie or TV show in decades that wears its fascination with the unprecedented and fascinating strangeness of the papacy so eagerly, or allows characters to debate topics like abortion, clerical abuse, celibacy and sexuality without trying to deliver an agenda. I can’t think of another faith – Christian, protestant, Abrahamic or pagan – where these questions need to be debated so regularly, and in flagrant violation of an increasingly censorious political or cultural climate, hell-bent on enforcing consensus.