Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after twenty years as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Father David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends ...
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Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after twenty years as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Father David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him. Once at the Vatican, he is immediately given an audience with the Pope, who elevates him to Cardinal Priest. The world is on the brink of war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the U.S. When the Pontiff suddenly dies, Lakota's genuine character and unique life experience move the College of Cardinals to elect him as the new Pope. But Pope Kiril I must now deal with his own self-doubt, the struggle of his friend Father Telemond, who is under scrutiny for his beliefs, and find a solution to the crisis in China.
In a last desperate effort to prevent World War III, one man is chosen to succeed where all the world's leaders have failed. That man was once a prisoner in a Russian labor camp. He is now the Pope. See more »
In the scene where Pope Kiril I (Anthony Quinn) prays over the body of the Jewish man, he recites the Shema. However, rather than say "Adonai", he says, "Hashem". This is because "Adonai" is traditionally only said when one is actually at prayer, and not simply reciting a prayer in a secular context, as in during a performance (specifically, in a movie). See more »
A map of Indo-China labelled in Cyrillic, which can be seen in the movie's trailer, appears to have the word Kambodzha, the Russian for Cambodia, written over the country of Laos. See more »
The Elder Pope:
There is a legend about you. That once you were asked to deny the faith, and they tied up seven priests and shot them, shot them before your eyes. And still you would not deny the faith. Is that story true?
I try not to look back on that, or other days, Holiness.
The Elder Pope:
God is with you, my Brother. I believe that God has sent you. Trust us to make the best use of you. But first, you must be honored.
[Hold up the red cap of a cardinal]
The Elder Pope:
The Elder Pope:
You are created cardinal-priest in the title ...
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An Ukrainian Catholic bishop is elected Pope and tries to prevent WWIII.
The election of a Pope from behind the former Iron Curtain has come to pass. The proposition that China would launch a military invasion of its neighbors to feed its starving masses was implausible even in 1968. All the major powers, including the former Soviet Union would not have stood for it. And today, with China being the most active powerhouse of the world economy whose interests are intertwined with the United States and the European Union, the proposition of a Chinese military adventure for economic gain seems preposterous.
What remains to be current in the film is the subplot regarding Fr. Telemond (Oskar Werner) who is based on the real-life Jesuit scholar, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist who got in trouble with the Roman Curia because of his attempt to reconcile science and religion through a new theology based on the natural sciences. This aspect of the film came to mind as I followed developments on the controversy between proponents of the "intelligent design" approach in teaching science versus the secular evolution approach.
In the film, Fr. Telemond in expounding on his theological evolution before a papal commission of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith could not adequately explain his adherence to the idea that God created the world through evolution when it was pointed out to him that evolution proceeds through violence (cf. "survival of the fittest") which would mean that God is the "author of violence" as Cardinal Leone (portrayed by Leo Mckern) put it. In hindsight, the Catholic Church had long ago made peace with evolution when Pope Pius XII said that it doesn't matter how the creation of the world is explained as long as it does not preclude or deny the existence of The Creator.
The current brouhaha in Kansas is the product of a misunderstanding of evolution both by the religionists and the agnostic-atheists. The theory of evolution along the now classical Darwinian lines does not explain the origin of life but only the diversity of life. Much less does it attempt to explain the origin of the universe.
Unfortunately, the enemies of religion ever since the Enlightenment have tried to use science to disprove the existence of God and there are those among them, either misinformed or malicious, who teach that evolution and astrophysics have negated the idea of the existence of a Creator. Current understanding of quantum physics imply that the substance of matter in its smallest manifestations may not be "material" after all, in the sense that "matter" has been understood. Einstein, of course, has shown the equation between energy and matter. But more recent discoveries borne out of smashing atoms and subatomic particles indicate that the smallest quanta are capable of uniting with other particles not because of their materiality nor even of their energy content, but because of the information they contain. Thus, the perceived self-organization of "matter" seems to be guided by antecedent information it contains. So the intriguing question is begged: Who put that information there?
Clearly Kiril was sent to the Gulag because he is a Catholic Bishop in an atheistic Soviet empire. Worse, he is Ukrainian Catholic. Even under Czarist Russia, a confessional state under Greek Eastern Orthodoxy (in this case Russian because the Greek Orthodox Church is divided along national lines), Catholics were frowned upon. The Ukrainian Catholics though not Roman Rite Catholics, have their own rite and are united with the Holy See. And of course, the Ukrainians never thought of themselves as simply an ethnic group within Russia but as an actual nation, an attitude that did not sit well with the ruling powers at the Kremlin.
Trivia: In both the movie and the book, members of the Curia wondered whether Pope Kiril would use the traditional crucifix (a cross with the corpus depicting Christ) as his pectoral cross, the sign of his office as Bishop of Rome according to the Latin Rite or, whether he would use an icon. As historical perspective, the Iconoclastic Controversy (when some quarters interpreted images as idolatrous in the Old Testament sense) in the Byzantine Empire was resolved by allowing representations of God and His saints in flat or semi-flat media as in painting and mosaics but not in the round as in statues. Pope Kiril stuck with the icon. Typically that would have shown Christ on one side and the Virgin Mary as the Mother of Perpetual Help on the other.
You would note also that Kiril opted to use his own name with his title of Pope foregoing a tradition of taking the name of a saint or predecessor whose examples a pope wishes to emulate during his reign. This was well as it should have been because Kiril is obviously named after St. Cyril, who with his companion St. Methodius converted the Slavs to Christianity. They, of course, came from the Eastern Roman Empire (now referred to by historians as the Byzantine Empire) whose center of power was Constantinople where Greek had supplanted the Latin of the fallen Western Roman Empire.
The line I liked best in the movie was delivered by the Soviet Premier (played by Olivier) who, upon seeing Bishop Lakota (Quinn) after so many years in the Gulag, remarked (and here I freely quote from memory): "Before you acted as if you had the truth in your own private pocket and no one could dispute it with you. But now you don't seem so sure. I like you better now."
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