A poster on a Vatican building for the new Two Popes movie could be the opening salvo in a “knives out” battle against the new ‘Red Pope’, the recently-named Prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide), Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
Driving the news
“The knives are out. This is a building owned by Propaganda Fide. Who at the congregation allowed this poster to go up? Just days after its Italian prefect, Fernando Filoni, was replaced by Filipino cardinal Luis Tagle…”, tweeted December 18 Robert Mickens, Vatican expert and English language editor of La Croix International.
Mickens was referring to the controversy over Filoni’s replacement with Tagle, said to be due to personal, theological and political differences between Filoni and Pope Francis.
Those same tensions run deep in the Roman Curia, which could be why officials at Propaganda Fide have decided to give new Prefect Tagle an awkward welcome to his new position.
Why it matters
As to why the Two Popes poster on the Propaganda Fide building is so awkward, one need look no further than the fact that the film’s director has openly acknowledged that the movie is sympathetic to Pope Francis and antagonistic to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Publicising a film on a Vatican building – especially so close to Christmas – is also “not at all congenial with the teaching, style and gestures of this Pope and this pontificate”, as the editors of Vatican-backed blog Il Sismografo observed.
Criticising the “temple merchants” who authorised the poster’s display, the editors of Il Sismografo went further and said the movie advertisement “is an operation in brutal contradiction with what Francis has taught over almost seven years about the sobriety of the poor Church and the poor, about the insidious ambiguities of advertising and cultural standardisation, [and about] the mercantile ideologization of faith”.
“In short, this stunt that has nothing to do with Advent and Christmas”, the Il Sismografo editors pointed out, blasting as “clumsy” and “unnecessary” a movie poster display on a Church building a hundred metres away from the Vatican manger scene.
“We hope that the faithful and pilgrims who will go to Holy Mass on Christmas Eve and then to the Urbi et Orbi blessing will not be forced to suffer the humiliation of passing this sad spectacle”, the Il Sismografo editors said.