An intelligent and very conservative Catholic tells me that Mel Gibson is a sede vacantist--in other words, he believed that he was screening The Passion not for the Pope, but for the Polish guy who's been squatting in the Vatican for twenty five years. Is my source right?
Protestants following The Passion controversy obviously don't care much one way or the other. Catholics could conclude that even though Gibson is a schismatic he is--or isn't--doing the Lord's work. I pursue the question out of journalistic curiosity, and impatience with my profession. It doesn't seem like a difficult question to answer, yet not one story I have read has definitely addressed it.
Brookhiser's concerns -- and Lane Core, Jr.'s -- have been on my mind since the start of the controversy over The Passion. 1. My beef with Mel Gibson is not that he is intentionally anti-semitic (a demonstratably false accusation, which he has rebuffed by word and deed), but his stance towards the present Church and the papacy: if the numerous reports of Mel's sedevacantist opinions are true, then here is a schismatic traditionalist who explicitly rejects the Church, but is not above using the alleged comments of the Holy Father (who he denies is the real Pope) to promote his film to faithful Catholics. I can't help but wonder about this, especially with the praise heaped upon Gibson for his film.
Bill Cork posted a critical review of Raymond Arroyo's interview with Mel Gibson on EWTN ("He set up the interview as 'good guys' vs. 'bad guys,' and asked 'straw man' questions and joined Mel in a bashing of legitimate scholars and people of good faith). Personally I would have liked to see Raymond Arroyo, as a Catholic journalist, challenge Gibson on this matter. 2
- See Mel Gibson and Spiritus Christi, March 2003.
- Who knows? -- Perhaps I will be able to appreciate the film for its own merits, and exclude my personal feelings for the director's shamelessly utilitarian means of advertising. Like Mark Shea, I'm one of the precious few still waiting to see it. ;-)