Czech archbishiop sharply criticizes ‘The Two Popes’ film

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“False, offensive and slanderous,” Prague’s Archbishop Dominik Duka said on social media about “The Two Popes” film by Netflix.

While the film received three Oscar nominations on Monday and praise from film critics, it has also been accused of containing a number of misleading and false narratives.

In the Czech Republic, Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka took issue with the film’s portrayal of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI. Shortly after the Oscar nominations, he posted to his Facebook account, making it clear he is not a fan of the movie.

“They are virtual popes,” Duka wrote, pointing out that the film presented a false narrative with a veneer of truth after the filmmakers’ claim the film was inspired by real events.

The film does feature some clearly false portions, with the filmmakers attempting to show that Benedict resigns over his sense of guilt flowing from a fictional case of sexual abuse by a clergy member, which the film portrayed Benedict as having mishandled. That simply did not happen.

Furthermore, the film claims Benedict chose Francis to be his successor and that Francis and Benedict have remained friends since Benedict retired, another storyline that has been refuted.

The main storyline of the film is based on speculation that in 2013, Pope Francis, known as Cardinal Bergoglio at that time, was going to retire. But Benedict XVI did not accept his request.

The film, according to critics, tries to emphasize that although both men profess the same faith and have completely different opinions on several issues, in the end, they can agree on several sensitive matters. In the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI is considered conservative, while Pope Francis is perceived to be liberal.

According to Archbishop Duka, however, the film portrayal of Benedict XVI is a mockery, and Duka asks what the film wants to tell its viewers.

“They are two people, two protagonists. One represents the liberal, ‘modern’, left-wing church, while the other one depicts a conservative, rigid, ‘non-progressive’ church. I also wonder why the conservative way is always shown in this light,” Duka writes.

The film is full of dialogues and discussions from clergy members with completely different opinions. At the end of the movie, Benedict XVI, the serving pope at the time, changes his mind and gives Cardinal Bergoglio absolution. One year later, however, Benedict XVI abdicates, and Bergoglio becomes the new pope.

“This fiction is false, offensive, and slanderous,” Duka wrote.

“The Two Popes” is a movie by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. Even though the film was nominated for four Golden Globes, it did not earn any in the end.

The three Oscar nominations include one to Jonathan Pryce for playing the lead role of Cardinal Bergoglio, one to Anthony Hopkins for the supporting role of Benedict XVI, and one for best adapted screenplay.

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