I have just been to see the new movie King Arthur, in the hope that a film based on a famously Christian (even if semi-legendary) hero of antiquity might perhaps present the fifth century Catholic ethos in a favourable light.
No such luck. You won't read this in media reviews of the movie, but King Arthur is in fact a viciously anti-Catholic diatribe. Indeed, its propaganda is pitched at about the level of a Jack Chick comic book.
The bishop sent to Britain as the Pope's emissary is a leering, scheming politician. Other clerics are portrayed as pitiful, simpering cowards: one of them, muttering the Hail Mary (in that detested language, Latin), is made an object of audience contempt as he is mimicked and ridiculed by one of Arthur's "heroic" knights.
An ostentatiously Catholic landowner of Roman nationality (his teenage son is earmarked to become a bishop) proves to be an enslaver, torturer and murderer of innocent pagan British villagers - old men, women and children. All of these heathen, he protests, are "sacrificed" in the name of God and the faith.
Indeed, when Arthur breaks into this monster's dungeon to liberate the survivors, he discovers that it is doubling as a chapel where sallow, simpering monks accompany their victims' agony by praying the Divine Office.
Obviously Baghdad's Abu Ghraib was a picnic compared to the diabolical sadism and hypocrisy of torture-chambers run by the imperialistic Church of Rome.
And what of Arthur's own religion? After our hero's eyes are opened to the iniquity of Catholicism and all its works, he cuts all ties with papal Rome and stays with the religion of Pelagius - St Augustine's heretical adversary who denied original sin and claimed that man, without grace, could save himself by his own efforts. Arthur's ideological message: the God of Pelagius stands for human freedom, independence and dignity, in contrast, of course, to the God of you-know-who in the Vatican.
Catholics should expose and boycott this poisonous movie, which perhaps is Hollywood's revenge against Mel Gibson.
FR BRIAN HARRISON
Ponce, Puerto Rico