A piece of sunshine

The Two Popes

Is change possible? Can two different perspectives be integrated with each other? Can conservative and progressive, introspective and extroverted, social and hermitic natures harmonize?


In the Netflix production of "The Two Popes", a 125-minute biographical drama with fictional elements, I could see that "change is possible" and two different perspectives can be integrated and harmonized with each other.


With its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on Aug. 31, "The Two Popes" was written by Anthony McCarten, based on his play titled "The Pope" in 2017. Fernando Meirelles directed this film with Anthony Hopkins starring as Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (later Pope Francis).


In April 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is called to Vatican City to elect a new pope in succession of Pope John Paul II. German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, but he had aptitude as a scholar, not an administrator, especially facing the Vatican leaks scandal. He had self-doubt about his ability to guide the church especially due to the habitually offending priest who continued to sexually abuse children after being assigned to a different parish.


Bergoglio wanted to see the Pope to get the permission to resign from his position as archbishop in 2012. As a leader of Argentinian Jesuits, he felt a sense of guilt due to keeping silent during the dictatorship of the past government; he felt strongly responsible for not being able to resist against the government and protect two Jesuit priests from being tortured. As a result, he had to come out of the Jesuit community and serve as an ordinary diocese priest for 10 years.


Through this painful experience, he changed himself completely into a person who takes care of people while enjoying being among the poor and the needy wholeheartedly.


Benedict and Bergoglio met together at the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and the Sistine Chapel. They had a strong debate on the true meaning of the Gospels and shared different ideas most sincerely. Above all, they forgave each other through confession.


Since childhood, Benedict was used to reading books and studying a lot, but ultimately through the face-to-face encounter with Bergoglio, Benedict changed his point of view about tradition and realized that "change is essential and necessary." Especially, in front of scandal and self-doubt in the administration of the church, the introspective, intellectual, and conservative Pope Benedict finally chose change, progress, and forgiveness.


Pope Benedict enjoyed eating alone, but he changed to dining with others. He was fond of the piano music of Bedrich Smetana, but he learned to listen to other songs and dance tango. He liked to read but later found time to watch football. Regarding changes as compromising, he stuck to the principle but he began to appreciate the liberal and radical points of view in pursuit of change.


After a year of their meeting in Rome, Bergoglio was elected after the resigned Pope Benedict XVI who was not able to reform the church. With the motto of "mercy" as the key point of evangelization, Pope Francis has appealed both the whole Catholic Church and other denominations to undergo transformation since 2013.


Truly, change is possible. Each of us is invited to go on a journey "to be a field hospital" for those who are hurt in many ways.

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