You wait ages for an actor to receive an Oscar nomination for playing the pope, and then two come along at once. Jonathan Pryce has been nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Pope Francis in The Two Popes, while Anthony Hopkins is in the running for Best Supporting Actor for his role opposite Pryce as Benedict XVI.
But the film failed to impress Catholic reviewers, who have queried its accuracy. At First Things, John Waters wrote that Hopkins portrays Benedict, “one of the most brilliant Europeans of the past half-century”, as “a dogged doctrinalist obsessed with homosexuality and clerical celibacy”.
The National Catholic Register critic Steven Greydanus wrote that the “hagiographic portrayal” of Francis is “less grating” than its harsh portrayal of Benedict – “at least until the last minutes as the film becomes a sort of infomercial, complete with rock soundtrack, burnishing Pope Francis’s image as a crusader and reformer”.
Fact can be stranger than fiction when it comes to popes.
Consider the circus act at last week’s general audience, performed by the colourfully dressed Aqua circus. At one stage the Pontiff joined in, tossing a hoop to one of the acrobats.
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