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The last scene from the 1968 movie with Anthony Quinn. (4:36)
How a movie almost became a blueprint of John Paul II's papacy
When the Italian pope dies in the latter part of the twentieth century, the Cardinals debate who will succeed him. Some want a conservative pope, while others feel that modern times call for a different approach so that the Church can speak to the real needs of the people. The conclave elects a Slavic cardinal who was imprisoned for twenty years by the Communists. He becomes Pope Kiril I.
He feels constricted by Vatican protocol, so he ventures out one night to meet the real people of Rome. He also relates with theologians in difficulties with pastoral kindness and understanding. At his papal coronation, he gives away the tiara. He tries to negotiate an accord between the warring nations, China and Russia, and he says he is ready to sell the treasures of the Vatican to alleviate starvation in China.
When Morris West’s novel, Shoes of the Fisherman, first appeared in 1963, it was regarded as prophetic. When John Paul I died in 1978 after barely a month in office, the Polish Cardinal, Karol Wojtyla, was elected, and Pope St. John Paul II is considered to have been one of the chief influences in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Morris West was even more prophetic than people realized. Shoes of the Fisherman takes past perceptions of the papacy and papal authority and looks at them in new ways.
Like Pope Kiril in the film, Pope St. John Paul II traveled outside Rome and tried to enter into dialogue with everyone. He exercised spiritual authority and tried to show that the role of the papacy was for service, especially in the political and economic arenas. The film shows the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. Shoes of the Fisherman continues to challenge audiences to understand the papacy more deeply. Shoes of the Fisherman was almost a blueprint for the papacy of Pope St. John Paul II. The film expresses a different yet converging definition of what ‘Church’ means and what authority and service entails. (Peter Malone in Lights Camera….Faith!)
SOURCE: Fr. Tony's Homilies
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