Letters to the Editor

Negative Reviews of Film

Dear Editor: I disagree with letter writer Thomas C. Cullinane’s (Feb. 11) praise for Martin Scorsese’s latest assault on Catholic truth and wisdom by making a film that justifies the world’s oldest moral rationalization: the ends justify the means, or what the Church has always condemned as consequentialism. Each of the trillions of times this idea is advanced, without exaggeration, it is presented as a revolutionary original new way of thinking. It reflects our corrupt human nature and the vanity of original sin.

Having authentic faith means accepting providential guidance of human events knowing that when God asks extraordinary efforts of virtue and courage from us, we pray that whatever harmful consequences that might come from doing the right thing will be confined to ourselves, and we have faith that God will honor, in His own mysterious way, in His own mysterious time, this petition.

No one is in any position to judge all the repercussions of our actions. Only God, Who knows the whole of human history, can know. This is why we can never do evil to achieve what we think will be a good result. What is given to us is doing the principled thing, which can mean placing ourselves in harm’s way. The faithful who perform heroic acts do so with all of their fractured humanity intact. All their human flaws, all their vanities, and all their weaknesses taint their noblest of efforts, but ultimately they do what they must. Past weakness and sins do not preclude future courage and dignity.

Cooperating with a threat of evil to supposedly avert a greater evil is not prudential. It is a presumptuous insult to God. If the protagonist were exercising real faith in Scorsese’s story, he would understand that cowardice in the face of an evil that threatens to kill children unless the victim protagonist commits sacrilege is not going to guarantee that the evil would not occur anyway. On the contrary, we know from real stories of saints more often the opposite occurs when we refuse to cooperate. Evil dissipates when we are willing to absorb evil. God can change hearts and minds, but He uses our instrumental willingness, our courage to absorb evil to affect that change.

Virtually every exploration of religion in today’s mainstream films is shallow and the religious are depicted ultimately as degenerates, cowards, or hypocrites. Catholics should be boycotting television and the film industry, not praising it.


Clearwater, Fla.

Dear Editor: Reflecting on Thomas Cullinane’s letter (Feb. 11) where he writes a “thank you” to Martin Scorsese for his film “Silence,” perhaps it would be better to reflect on the life of St. Paul Miki and the martyrs of Nagasaki.

Putting aside technical excellence, Scorsese’s Hollywood fictional account creates the road to sainthood through apostasy. What a disservice to the true and holy Christian martyrs of Japan!