Photo Exhibit Reflects on Priests in Cinema

Italian Bishops Host Event at Conclusion of Year for Priests

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ROME, MAY 26, 2010 ( One of the final initiatives for the Year for Priests opened this week at the Vatican, sponsored by the president of the Italian bishops’ conference. It gives a photographic view of the role of priests in cinema.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, opened “Priests in the Cinema: Priests and Cinematographic Imagery” on Monday.

Starting June 3, the exhibit can be viewed at the Pontifical Lateran University and then it will go on a tour throughout Italy.

In an address at the opening event, Cardinal Bagnasco recalled how priests have often been represented in cinema, with narrations of “their sacrifice and witness ‘to the least’ of society, both in times of peace as well as during the difficult years of war.”

The prelate offered a particular example in Aldo Fabrizi’s representation of Don Pietro Pellegrini for the 1945 film “Roma citta aperta.”

“Among the numerous reflections proposed by the seventh art and its authors on the priestly ministry,” he added, “the one I feel most attached to and that most brings to mind the life and witness of the Holy Curé d’Ars is certainly the figure of the priest in Robert Bresson’s ‘Diary of a Country Priest’ (‘Journal d’un curé de campagne,’ 1951), taken from the novel with the same name by Georges Bernanos.”

The “poetry” in Bresson’s work is also common to other authors, Cardinal Bagnasco affirmed, “which we see here today well represented in this photographic exhibition dedicated to priests in the cinema.”

The president of the episcopal conference expressed his special gratitude to director Carlo Verdone “who in his 30-year career has addressed on more than one occasion the figure of the priest, at times stressing his defects and weaknesses, with representations that often were caricatures, but always charged with singular points of reflection, which only the language of comedy can sometimes achieve.”
Cardinal Bagnasco recalled the most recent of Verdone’s films, titled “Lo, loro e Lara,” about the figure of Father Carlo, calling it “an interesting and unheard of figure of the missionary who shows his passion for his ministry despite the complex and difficult situations in which he lives.”

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