13 Thoughts A Young Catholic Had Watching 'The Young Pope'

13 Thoughts A Young Catholic Had Watching 'The Young Pope'

Jude Law is good, but he can't work a miracle.
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The HBO miniseries The Young Pope premiered in Italy last October of 2016 to generally favorable reviews and, as you might expect for an atheist-directed show about the papacy, not inconsiderable consternation from Catholic blogs and news sites. To do it justice, the production looks great: beautiful settings, St. Peter’s Square packed full of people, and Jude Law absolutely resplendent in papal garb. Director Paolo Sorrentino delivers the quality viewers pay to see from HBO.

But like Jude Law’s Pope Pius XIII, underneath the surface something feels off: clunky dialogue, bad theology, and the almost complete lack of humor turns at times the plot from the surreal to the unbelievable. The petulant, borderline sociopathic behavior of Pius XIII takes willing suspension of disbelief to its limits, and some unfortunately written lines given to Diane Keaton almost hurt to listen to. These and other minor details may detract from a viewing experience of the The Young Pope: “Episode 1.” But these are small concerns. The star-studded cast manages to shine in spite of the stubbornly superficial characters and heavy-handed exposition. Best of all, the series prompts young Catholics to ask interesting questions about their faith, some trivial, some less so. With that said, here are 13 thoughts a young Catholic had watching The Young Pope:

1. What is the age of the youngest pope actually?

The record, held by Benedict IX in 1032 A.D., is 11 years, 36 years younger than Jude Law’s Pius XIII. At least three other popes also beat out Pius XIII for youth: Johns XI and XII and Gregory V. All became pope within almost a century of one another, and not for good reasons.

2. How is the pope chosen today?

Popes today are chosen by papal conclave, an electoral process requiring a two-thirds majority vote of cardinals in favor of a willing candidate. This practice developed over time in the Church, largely in response to the election of so many popes by secular rulers, a process that lead to problems of its own.


3. Could someone like Lenny Belardo (Pius XIII) ever become pope?

See the above two answers. The saeculum obscurum, or dark age, refers to a period in Church history when powerful Italian families greatly influenced papal elections, resulting in a crisis with rival claims to the papacy. 13th century reforms insulated papal elections from influence by secular rulers to prevent further controversy. So to answer the question, yes . . . but no.

4. Is this how people imagine having an American pope would be?

First off, the current pope is not from America. He’s Argentine. Second, yes, probably. Mr. Sorrentino claims to have come up with the character while Obama was in office, but one can’t help but feel he had another president in mind when creating him. It doesn’t hurt that Pius XIII hails from New York and his actor happens to be wearing a wig.


5.Were those nuns just waiting outside Fr. Spencer’s bathroom for him to try to kill himself?

In a shocking scene, Pius XIII’s mentor tries to commit suicide in despair because his pupil became pope instead of him. Fortunately for him, a couple of passing nuns stop him before he can slit his wrists. Why they were outside his bathroom to begin with is never adequately explained. It’s one of those minor details that keeps The Young Pope from ever truly being great.

6. Am I allowed to be on my cellphone in the confessional?

If you wanted to write things down so you know what to say to the priest, that’s perfectly fine. If you’re the kind of person who finds it difficult to resist the urge to Snapchat everything you’re doing, you might reconsider it.

7. So the pope can order confessors to tell him people’s sins if it concerns the security of the Church?

Absolutely not. Under no circumstances can a priest break the seal of confession. Canon law lists the penalty for such an act as latae sententiae, excommunication. This sounds cool, but it’s just the Latin way of saying you are automatically booted out of the Catholic Church, which, for a committed priest, is the worst possible punishment. No one, priest, bishop, or pope, can ask a confessor to reveal someone’s sins that have been revealed in the sacrament of penance.

8. Jude Law does a great American accent.

This is not related to Catholicism nor is it a question. Yes, yes, he does.


9. Is there really a papal tiara in D.C.?

Yes, and Pope Paul VI really did donate it in 1963 and give the proceeds to the poor. He did so as a symbol of renouncing the worldly power commonly associated with the tiara, something his fictional successor comments on as a mistake. This remark is one of many that reveal Pius XIII is perhaps less pious than he lets on.

10. Do people really make life or death decisions based on what the pope says?

In a disturbing opening scene, Pius XIII declares in his inaugural homily that Catholics everywhere should embrace a multitude of practices that would go against their conscience and Church doctrine. Mr. Sorrentino clearly intends this scene to force introspection in people who heed so fervently the words of the Holy Father. Of course, the pope is not the Church, and should anyone ever advise someone to act in any way contrary to their conscience, that person’s words should in no way be heeded.

11. Pius XIII isn’t that funny.

No, not very often. The worst is when he lies and covers himself with, “I was only joking.” It’s a trait that shows both his Machiavellian, dishonest streak and his stark lack of any joy or humor.


12. Does God live in the Big Dipper in a half duplex with a private swimming pool?

No. See above.

13. Are they making another one of these?

Just this month, Mr. Sorrentino announced a sequel series, titled The New Pope. I only hope the new series and the new pontiff learn from their predecessor’s mistakes.

Cover Image Credit: cdn1

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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