Friday, 5 May 2017

Journal: Philomena - not an easy watch!

I watched the film, Philomena, today. It's one of those films that relate to the 'Magdelen Laundries' and the actions of various members of the Catholic Church relating to the care of young 'fallen' and/or 'unrukry and wayward' young women.

The film featured harsh and bitter treatment of the young women at times but that want the worst bit, for it also pointed to the results of these young women's sin, the children, being effectively sold off to adoptive couples.

In 1952, Philomena Lee (played by Judi Dench) gave birth to a son in a 'mother and baby home'. Three years later that same child was passed on for adoption (with another child) and money changed hands. The institution was legal led allowed to do this because the mothers were made to sign a document passing all rights regarding the child to the order of nuns and the Catholic church. Seems to me that, having read other books on the subject, this was a nice little earner - but that's not the bit that causes me distress (even though it is distressing).

What gets my goat is the institutional corruption and deceit that saw all paperwork, save the legal transfer of rights, destroyed by the nuns. Add to this the fact that the organisation denied access to information that would have enabled morhter and son to be reunited when they came looking and you have sprinkles on the cake already bedecked with the cherries of sexual immorality and abuse. Is it any wonder that people distrust the Church (all and every brand of it) when our recent past is held up to scrutiny.

Add to this the remarkable film 'Spotlight' and the exposé of the sexual abuse covered up and buried, and the institutional suppression of the truth and the oppression aimed at those who sought to find it: and you have a picture of something extremely wrong in terms of Church and the discharge of the Gospel.

This is not a Roman Catholic issue alone, as happenings in the CofE and other denominations and groupings clearly demonstrate. Wherever there is power on offer, there are people who will abuse that power for their own gain and pleasure. What is tragic (and that's a polite word) is the fact that the Church (universal) has looked the other way and so permitted wrong to have happened and then covered it up - lying, using its institutional power and the pressure its members can impose on friends and family should they be rocking the boat - and so compounded their sin.

The Church is made up of flawed, fallible and potentially awful people. But evil does triumph and Jesus, the Christ, falls from the cross onto the floor impotent as the Church, stumbling and falling seeks to cover things up. The triumph is that there are good people doing good things and standing against evil inside and outside of Church.

The good (should that be 'amazing') thing is that there are people like Philomena Lee who maintain their faith in God, seeing past the flawed and fallible representatives of the church before them, to Worship God. A most uncomfortable and angst-filled, Anger-making film indeed.

Worth a watch,

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