Catholic media conference launches three seminal movies

Catholic media conference launches three seminal movies Fighting Spirit: A Combat Chaplain’s Journey.

The Catholic Media Conference in Atlanta has just released details of three films which may be of interest to readers. The first, Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist, embarks, as the CMC puts it, “on a global journey to rediscover and revive the transformative power of the Eucharist.”

Produced by Jim Wahlberg and directed and written by Tim Moriarty, it’s set against the backdrop of a 2019 Pew Research study which revealed that only one-third of practising Catholics in the US believed in the ‘Real Presence’ of Christ in the Eucharist.

The second film, Teilhard: Visionary Scientist, is a two-hour biography of the renowned French theologian-cum-palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin SJ by Frank and Mary Frost. I watched it on my computer by clicking into an American channel called Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). It’s a no-profit making channel, so it won’t cost you anything.

Fr Chardin endured stern opposition from the Church, as he espoused what were then seen as radical concepts about evolution and the duality of mind and body.

Declaring that spirit and matter were comprised of “one and the same cosmic stuff” and making statements like “God does not make the world; He makes the world make itself,” he found himself tilting at windmills often during his controversial life.

Muzzled by the authorities, he sought ways to express himself that wouldn’t alienate his superiors, but many of his books and papers were suppressed. At one stage it was suggested he leave the Jesuits and become a diocesan priest. This he was unwilling to do.

He continued to try and bridge the schism between science and theology. Eventually a kind of compromise was reached. He agreed to be obedient to his Order without this implying intellectual assent to its zeitgeist.

He was before his time in his ideas. This fascinating biopic pays homage to this, pointing out that Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si owes much to his prophetic views.

The third film being launched by the CMC is called Fighting Spirit: A Combat Chaplain’s Journey. A co-production from the U.S. Army Corps, it’s the directorial debut of Rich Hull.

It begins with army chaplain, Justin Roberts, attending the funeral of a priest called Emil Kapaun. Fr Kapaun died as a prisoner of war in North Korea in 1953. In 1993 Pope John Paul II declared him to be a Servant of God, the first step towards canonisation.

The film studies the important work army chaplains have done over the decades in treating the mental health of soldiers as they prepare for battles and try to recover from them. This is a hugely important function. A recent report listed suicide as one of the main causes of death among US military personnel.

Army chaplains are non-combative but still wear uniforms. “You have to be fearless to do that,” one speaker in the film asserts. Another describes them as “the unsung heroes who’ve shaped history by touching lives and comforting souls.”