Standing Fast #1 – New Line Cinema’s The Nativity Story and the Virgin Birth

By December 1, 2006September 30th, 202210 Most Popular, Fr. Angelo Geiger, Standing Fast
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Ave Maria!

Fr. Angelo contends that The Nativity Story by New Line Cinema is a good Protestant film which was the intent of the film. His only question is why so many well educated Catholic movie reviewers are calling it a good *Catholic* film.

Read a Review of the Movie by Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger


Ave Maria!

Author apostolate

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Join the discussion 29 Comments

  • Evan says:

    It’s funny, I just gave a presentation about this very topic last night for my Theology class. Here’s a slide from the presentation:

    Our Lord was born of a virgin. This is dogma defined by the Second Council of Constantinople in A.D. 553.

    “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.??? (Isaias, 7:14)

    Mary was virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ. Having a human mother gave Jesus His humanity while having no human father but by the power of the Holy Spirit being conceived in the womb of Mary gave Him His divinity.

    The “brethren of Jesus??? mentioned in the Gospels (Matt., 13:55) are NOT Mary’s other children. They are merely relatives of Jesus. The Greek adelphos (brother) also meant relative, cousin or kinsman.

    She remained a virgin until the end of her life. St. Ambrose called the denial of this a sacrilege.

  • Steve says:

    I posted a link to Father Angelo’s review on in response to a review by Steven Greydanus of Greydanus responded to Father Angelo with a review of Father Angelo’s review…

    Pop on over to the discussion…

  • Tim J. says:

    Father –

    Thank you for your teaching. I wrote a post on this subject some time ago on Jimmy Akin’s blog, but I am not qualified in any way to speak.

    My understanding was that, though it may be the sensus fidelum that Mary’s perpetual virginity was indeed physical, it does not rise to the level of defined dogma.

    In other words, a Catholic could maintain the belief that Mary retained the VIRTUE of virginity through childbirth, but still have doubts about the physical aspects of this WITHOUT running afoul of defined doctrine (that is, without sinfully rejecting some essential element of the Catholic faith).

    In other words, one could be a good Catholic and hold such doubts.

    Personally, I have no problem accepting that Mary miraculously remained physically inviolate through childbirth.

  • Father Angelo says:

    Just responded to Steven Greydanus’ review on I post it here also.

      Join the discussion…

    I appreciate SDG’s generous and thoughtful review of my review. However, in the light of his remarks I would reiterate that the ecumenism of The Nativity Story is of the lowest common denominator in regard to Mary. In the movie, the exalted view of Our Lady, which is overwhelmingly the manifest Catholic tradition, is blurred or set aside in favor of a Protestant version.

    I do not base that judgment merely upon a survey of St. Matthew’s Gospel alone, but upon the whole of Catholic tradition. Even so, I would point out that St. Matthew’s Gospel, as interpreted by the Church, most certainly teaches the Perpetual Virginity of Our Lady, where it quotes Isaiah 7:14, “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us??? (1:23). The Catholic interpretation of this passage as referring to the Virginal Conception and Birth of Jesus is indisputable.

    In regard to the Immaculate Conception, it is true that the magisterium does not reference St. Matthew’s Gospel, but it does reference St. Luke’s infancy narrative. The angel Gabriel’s address to Our Lady as “Full of Grace??? in 1:28 is one of the principle pieces of scriptural support for the dogma as defined by Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus.

    Aside from this, though I am not even sure what SDG means when he says: “there’s nothing about the Immaculate Conception or perpetual virginity of Mary in, say, St. Matthew’s infancy narrative.??? Is he suggesting that the teachings are not scriptural, or that it is Catholic practice to consider scripture apart from tradition? I am sure he is not, so I am confused.

    The point of my “coup against Catholic Mariology??? comment was not to suggest that the movie is a treatise on scripture or tradition, but simply to note that the character of Mary in the film was a Protestant version. Taken as a whole, tradition indicates a most exalted view of Our Lady, who was preserved from both Original sin and its effects, including even the slightest inclination to sin. Off hand, I can not think of a single saintly spiritual writer who would suggest that the Immaculate Conception went through a rebellious period during Her teen years. However, this is precisely the way in which filmmakers portrayed Our Lady.

    As I point out in my review, Hardwicke, a Presbyterian, was interested in writing a growing up story, i.e., one about transformation through the rebellious teen years. She was chosen for the job precisely because, when it comes to portraying the crises that teens experience when growing up, especially girls, She is an expert filmmaker (see my review). One may argue about what an artistic representation conveys in regard to the psychological experience or moral responsibility of a character, but the Mary of The Nativity Story compares very poorly with the tradition. Find me a saint that meditated on Our Lady after the manner of Hardwicke. There aren’t any. The result of viewing this movie will not be a clarifying one for Catholics in regard to the Church’s praise and veneration of the Mother of God.

    In fact, I do believe that penetrating the psychology of the Word of God or the Immaculate Conception presents a formidable challenge to the imagination of anyone, artist or viewer. However, I also believe that Gibson, whatever his personal faults, did a magnificent job. I wrote a booklet on the subject when The Passion of the Christ was released (The Compassion of the Mother in the Passion of the Christ).

    Protestants are more humanistic in their approach to this problem, precisely because they have a disregard for pre-Reformation scriptural interpretation and Catholic doctrine in general. The fathers, doctors and mystics never presumed to comprehend the King and Queen. They made sure their meditations were clearly supportive of Catholic doctrine and passed over many other things in reverent silence. Gibson succeeded in doing this. Hardwicke did not even try.

  • Father Angelo says:


    The link I provided with the video “Quoting John Paul II on Physical Integrity,” contains a pertinent quote from the Marian Study Conference the pope gave about the Perpetual Virginity on June 10, 1992:

    “The Church, in confessing her faith in the Mother of God’s virginity, proclaims as factually true that Mary: a) truly conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit without human intervention; b) truly and virginally gave birth to her Son; c) remained a virgin after His birth in everything that concerns the integrity of the flesh. She lived in total and perpetual virginity after Jesus’ birth. Together with St. Joseph, who was also called to play a primary role in the initial events of our salvation, she devoted herself to serving the Person and work of her Son.”

    Integrity of the flesh after the birth, implies integrity during the birth. This language is consistent throughout the tradition. Otherwise, the definition of the virginity in partu is meaningless. Childbirth is never the occasion of loosing spiritual virginity.

    The point of dogma is not primarily to set parameters for legitimate speculation, but to give us certitude about revelation. That all the details of the Virgin Birth are not explicit in the definition does not mean that physical integrity is doubtful.

    I will leave to Father Peter Damian , STD what constitutes sinful dissent on this point.

    The Catechism of the Council of Trent taught the painlessness of the Birth for good reason. It makes sense in the context of tradition, and is based on a sound epistemology. Skepticism is not a good starting place for catechesis.

    Tim, BTW great paintings.

  • Susannah says:

    The film did not question in the least the virginity of Mary. That was an obvious part of the plot. And yet, the Franciscan priest who has reviewed the film, spends the balance of this clip explaining how important her virginity is. That’s a lot of wasted breath on his part.

    He also quotes a Church Father to suggest that Mary’s virginity is a matter that should be approached in reverent silence. And yet, this very priest spends about twenty minutes explaining why the physiological integrity of Mary is super-important.

    Experiencing pain in birth does not imply that Mary was not a virgin. It simply means that she was a real woman. Evidently some people have a problem with that.

  • Romy says:

    It addition to the critique on this film, I wish to add that the main characters look dirty as well as their clothes and their surroundings. Poor people are not necessarily unhygenic and unshaven. Cleanliness is next to godliness so it’s not far from truth to expect that biblical main characters are very clean in their ways and their looks. Moreover, the actors do not look like Israelites. In my personal opinion, the Nativity Story can not be categorised as a Catholic film and I felt I’ve wasted my money.
    By the way, the best Nativity Story I ever read aside from the Bible, is the
    Part 1 Volume One (The Hidden Life) The Poem of Man-God by Maria Valtorta

  • apostolate says:


    Thank you for your comment. You have summarized the sentiment of many of the commenters on the various blogs.

    In Fr. Angelo’s absence I will attempt a reply. I think the overall point is not one of sentiment but of supporting and defending the objective articles of faith of the Catholic Church. Fr. Angelo is not questioning whether she is a real woman or not. The Catholic position, which Fr. Angelo is upholding, is that Mary is a real woman but one unlike any other. By God’s grace she is Immaculate, which places her not only uniquely above all women but above all men. This article of Catholic faith has real ramifications like the painless birth that have been oft mentioned and well supported by the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.

    The point of Fr. Angelo mentioning the reverent silence of the Fathers is simply to point out:

    1. That their silence on the physiological details of the of her virginity and Christ’s Virgin Birth (different from the His virginal conception in the womb of Mary) is due to their reverence of Mary and not due to any desire to leave these matters open to dissent. Unfortunately, the silence on these points has been used by some bloggers to justify this very dissent. And, …

    2. That, even in today’s less reverential atmosphere, it is still best not to go into these details in a crass and irreverent manner as, again, some Catholic bloggers have done.

    Fr. Angelo does not go into these details beyond what he must in order to defend the doctrines which are being put into question in these very details and he always uses due reverence.

    There is, then, a need for balance in these matters. On the one hand, Mary must not be deified so that she is no longer human, but, on the other, God’s great work of grace and mercy, which is Mary’s Immaculate Conception, should not be smoothed over for the purpose of enabling people to relate to her. And, not only because it is a work of God but also for preserving what God is trying to tell us about creation, humanity, the fall, Mary, Christ, redemption and his Church through this very work of grace. By preservering what God is trying to tell us here we may find that we will be able to relate to Mary, and even on a sentimental level, like we have never been able to before.

    Fra Roderic – Ave Maria!

  • Don says:

    Fr. Angelo, you quote Hardwicke in your review. Do you have a citation for where that was found? I can’t find it on the internet.

    As for the necessity of purity in Catholic doctrine, Bishop Bruschewitz said the following at recent speech:

    “In Nebraska, where I come from, at this time of the year, harvest time, there are a lot of rodents who try to intrude themselves in, feasting on the corn, soybeans, and other products of the fields. This requires the farmers to put out appropriate amounts of rat poison to prevent this from happening. The rat poison that is put out is always 95% healthy, good, wholesome, nourishing food. It is only the 5% in the poison that does the killing. I think that this has been overlooked in the ecumenical and inter-religious dialogues sometimes, that inserted into things which might have elements of truth, are also very serious elements of error that place in jeopardy one’s eternal salvation.”

    Sometimes it’s just necessary to say “this work has a poison in it” for the well-being of everyone who will be tempted to eat of it.

  • Robin says:

    Hi Don,

    Just to let you know, that quote from Hardwicke is located at:

    in an interview with her…

    hope that helps!

  • George says:

    An important point that reviwers have missed so far in comparing The Passion to The Nativity Story is that The Passion could have been portrayed by Protestants fairly close to the Catholic tradition with the exception that Mary would not have received as wonderful a devotional treatment to her Son that Gibson gave her.

    In The Passion, there are no Marian doctrinal issues at stake. In unfortunate contrast, Gibson’s failure to produce a Catholic version of the the Nativity has resulted in a lost opportunity to straighten out confused Catholics on important details (both devotional and dogmatic) of the Virgin Birth and reclaim Marian truth from secularist portrayals and earlier efforts portraying the Virgin birth, such as in Franco Zeffirelli’s, Jesus of Nazareth.

    Had the producers of the two movies been reversed, it is not likely that any doctrinal damage would have been inflicted on Mary. Since the passion narratives of the Gospel do not explicitly address any Marian doctrinal issues, A Protestant producer could not have gotten it too wrong. Devotional truths may have perhaps suffered, but not doctrinal truths. Much more is suffered and lost as a result of the present sequence of the movies and their subsequent producers. It is just unfortunate that Gibson did not aggressively follow up with a Nativity story that would better have proclaimed our Catholic dogmatic teachings of Our Lady. Who could blame him after the Satanic feeding frenzy of his peers that he endured as a result of his beautiful portrayal of The Passion. It would take heroic endurance to whether what he endured without serious toll on one’s psyche. You just KNOW that Satan was not happy about someone trrumping his medium.

    In any case, Fr. Angelo’s review is an important one, and I pray it will be widely disseminated. I would suggest at the bottom of the webpage that the review is located to put an “E-mail story” link so that readers can disseminate the story to their friends. If it is already there, I missed it, and apologize.

    In Jesus and Mary,

    W. George Dragan, M.A. Theology

  • Romy says:

    How can any Christian who solemnly believe the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ ever doubt about the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the Immaculate Conception?

    The perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is so easy to believe because it is simply the truth!

    ” Purity has such a value, that the womb of creature can contain the Uncontainable One, because She possessed the greatest purity that a creature of God could have.

    “The Most Holy Trinity descended with Its Perfections, inhabited with Its Three Persons, enclosed Its Infinity in a small space. But, It did not debase Itself by doing so, because the love of the Virgin and the Will of God widened this space until They rendered it a Heaven.”

    “God, to reveal Himself to men in the new and complete form, which starts the Redemption era, did not select for His throne a star in the sky, nor the palace of a powerful man, Neither did He want the wings of angels as the base of His feet. He wanted a spotless womb.”

    ——–excerpts from The Poem of The Man-God by Maria Valtorta, page 7 (The Hidden Life) Volume 1 (The Hidden Life) > (Prob.8,22.)

  • Father Angelo says:

    LifeSite news reported on my review (December 4). Thank you for the kind write-up. However, I would like to offer a clarification:

    Fr. Geiger contrasts The Nativity Story with The Passion of the Christ, noting that with the latter, Catholics and Protestants could agree to support it. He suggests, however, that the latter is “a virtual coup against Catholic Mariology.”

    LifeSite mixes up the use of “latter” and “former” in the second sentence. The context of their article makes it clear that they know I am saying that it is The Nativity Story that poses the “virtual coup.”

    Certainly, I do not recommend the film, but I am not suggesting than anyone commits a sin by viewing it. As I have said and continue to argue, it is a Protestant film. In view of Father Peter Damian Fehlner’s clarification of the doctrinal weight of the Virgin Birth, my “virtual coup” comment is all the more valid. A Catholic must affirm the painlessness of the Virgin Birth. As Father Peter writes:

    a Catholic cannot maintain doubts about the physical aspects of the Virgin Birth as traditionally and authoritatively defined, “without running afoul of defined doctrine.”

    Susanna’s comment expresses a judgment about the Virgin Birth that I have often encountered among Catholics:

    The film did not question in the least the virginity of Mary. That was an obvious part of the plot. And yet, the Franciscan priest who has reviewed the film, spends the balance of this clip explaining how important her virginity is. That’s a lot of wasted breath on his part.

    This is why I have expended so much hot air, tedious perhaps, but not wasted! Since the Perpetual Virginity, as defined by the Church, includes the uninterrupted physical integrity of Our Lady’s Virginity, one may not suggest that the birth caused lesion or pain. I have had to concentrate on what appears to many as a minor point, because the fact is being denied. However, the importance and meaning of the fact must also be affirmed. Simply put, the virginal integrity of Our Lady, before, during and after birth is the principle sign chosen by God to indicate the divinity of Christ. It is a miracle paralleled only by the Resurrection. The fact and the meaning of the fact need to balance each other out. Without affirming the full truth of the Virgin Birth it is meaningless.  Without understanding its meaning, it seems unimportant, and it becomes all too easy to dismiss.  John Paul II spoke to theologians on this topic on June 10, 1992:

    It is a well-known fact that some of the Church Fathers set us a significant parallel between the begetting of Christ ex intacta virgine [from the inviolate Virgin] and his resurrection ex intacto sepulcro [from the sealed tomb]. In the parallelism relative to the begetting of Christ, some of the Fathers put the emphasis on the virginal conception, others on the virgin birth, others on the subsequent perpetual virginity of the Mother, but they all testify to the conviction that between the two saving events–the generation–birth of Christ and his resurrection from the dead–there exists an intrinsic connection which corresponds to a precise plan of God: a connection which the Church led by the Spirit, has discovered, not created. “

    . . . . [I]t is necessary for the theologian, in presenting the Church’s doctrine on Mary’s virginity to maintain the indispensable balance between stating the fact and elucidating its meaning. Both are integral parts of the mystery: the meaning, or symbolic value of the event is based on the reality of the fact, and the latter, in turn, reveals all its richness only if its symbolic meanings are unfolded.

    Father Fehlner’s audio conference “The Great Sign,” posted yesterday, will go a long way to promote understanding of the importance and meaning of the Virgin Birth.

    Thanks, Robin for the documentation on the Hardwicke’s quote.

    Don, one of the reasons that I used the quotes that I did, is because they are also found in the promotional material distributed at the prescreenings. Hardwicke and company made a point of crafting the character of Our Lady in such a way as to portray Her as “not perfectly pious from the very first moment.”

    Romy, I agree that that the Perpetual Virginity is easy to believe. The Church’s tradition is clear and unambigous. Approved private revelation can assist in the understanding of the deposit of the faith, for sure. The problem is that Maria Valtorta’s The Poem of the Man-God, has been condemned by the Church. While I commend your docility to believe the stupendous miracle of the Virgin Birth, I would suggest you, consider the problems with that particular work.

  • Romy says:

    As with comments from Father Angelo,

    It is true that Maria Valtorta’s The Poem of the Man-God, has been condemned by the Church.

    And, it is equally true that the writings of Saint M. Faustina Kowalska were condemned by the Church.

    And, St. Margaret Mary’s “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus” was also condemned by the Church when consigned to the index of forbidden books in 1704.

    As ecclesiastical approbation is only necessary on certain books today (e.g., Bibles, catechisms, theology text books, liturgical books); there are absolutely no restrictions on what a person or a Christian or a Catholic can read.

    Thus, how can you not consider reading or recommend the reading of the “The Poem of The Man-God” when this 5-volume work explains and details all the events from the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary until Her Assumption to Heaven?

    Is there anything wrong with the excerpts I’ve cited from the book
    e.g. ???Purity has such a value, that the womb of creature can contain the Uncontainable One, because She possessed the greatest purity that a creature of God could have.”

  • Father Angelo says:


    In matters of faith and morals the Church’s jurisdiction is universal, regardless of whether a decision is infallible or not. Providence overshadows even such events as the ones you mentioned concerning the Divine Mercy and Sacred Heart revelations. Another good example: for a time, Rome judged the stigmata of St. Pio to be “not of supernatural origin.” St. Pio was even censured, and forbidden to preach, hear confessions or even say Mass publicly. He obeyed even though the judgments made against him were not true. Personally, I do not doubt the Church’s judgment concerning The Poem of the Man-God to be the correct one, but either way, the saint’s example should be imitated.

    Yes, ecclesiastical approbation is not necessary on certain works, but that does not mean that the Church has surrendered its jurisdiction in such matters. Books can be freely promoted as long as they are not condemned. To say that there is absolutely no restrictions on reading material for Catholics is absurd.

    I quote from a small section from Father Mitch Pacwa’s article linked to in my previous post. Obviously, this was written by the present Holy Father some years before his elevation to the pontificate. It is no less relevant for that reason:

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, present head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the same office that condemned the “Poem”), informed Cardinal Siri in 1985 of the “Poem’s condemnation:

    After the dissolution of the Index, when some people thought the printing and distribution of the work was permitted, they were reminded again in L’Osservatore Romano (June 15, 1966) that “The Index retains its moral force despite its dissolution.”

    More recently (April 17, 1993, Prot. N. 144/58i), he wrote:

    “The ‘visions’ and ‘dictations’ referred to in the work, “The Poem of the Man-God,” are simply the literary forms used by the author to narrate in her own way the life of Jesus. They cannot be considered supernatural in origin.”

    I sincerely hope this helps. In good faith, I ask you to consider the facts.

  • Therese says:

    Dear Father,

    I loved what you said in your video and article on The Nativity Story. I was going take my children to the movie, but now I’ve changed my mind.
    Have you seen the movie Guadalupe? I would be very interested in your thoughts. I’ve posted my thoughts on my site, but I am wondering if there is anything I am missing which could be considered disordered in the movie. I don’t speak Spanish, but know enough to notice the translation was a bit off at times. (The English not being able to convey nuances and such in the Spanish language.) Do you know of any good reviews out there?

    I would have emailed you privatley, but couldn’t find a link to an email address.

  • Romy says:

    With my due respect, I think that Father Mitch Pacwa’s article is mainly his personal opinion on The Poem of the Man-God. Which likewise, anyone who reads it can draw his own conclusion about it, because everyone is gifted by God with a mind and an intellect capable of understanding things and knowing and believing what is true by himself without the weight of biased opinion from others.

    Reading the Poem of the Man-God myself, I find that it exalts among others, the 2 important dogmas of my Catholic faith – The Immaculate Conception and the Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    That’s why, I personally don’t recommend the Nativity Story to Catholics because of its presentation of the Mary without humility nor trusting God by showing her telling the secret of the annunciation to her parents herself!.

  • Thom says:

    Romy, as I have silently followed this discussion I find your quote “Which likewise, anyone who reads it can draw his own conclusion about it, because everyone is gifted by God with a mind and an intellect capable of understanding things and knowing and believing what is true by himself without the weight of biased opinion from others” To be quite Martin Lutheristic.

    Whether we agree or disagree, whether we feel that the freedom of thought is something that cannot be altered by any person, we still have to be obedient.

    If a parent tells there child they do not want them to read the exploits of Tom Sawyer because they find it encourages reckless behavior in that child, the childs obligation is to do as he is told by his parent, even if the likes of you or I find nothing wrong with the book. It isn’t up to you or I to question that parent, they know their child better than we do.

    If the church states a restriction, we should honor its decision based on obedience if nothing more. The example given of St. Pio is one we should all follow and inspire to, after all being obedient is what we are supposed to do, otherwise we are not following God’s will, and if its not God’s will who else should there be? After all, we are the children that need guidance and I certainly consider the mother church as a good judge.


    I can personally testify to the fact that witnessing my 5 children being born and that with two no pain was felt and on one of those not even strain was given for birth indicates to me that Mary could easily have given birth without pain or strain. Let’s be real, if God chooses to have his spouse not feel any pain during here delivery she won’t. Everything is possible with God, isn’t that the argument your having about her virginity? Keep going and move on to the actual birth with your faith as well. It does not take away from Mary’s humanity that she had a painless birth, it adds to the glory of Jesus Christ’s coming and that something completely pure and wonderful was able to hold God’s son until the right time. Complete Faith – – isn’t that what we need? Not, I’ll believe in this but not that, because of a human experience by myself or others.

    Let’s move on and have complete trust and faith

    As for Reverent Silence…. Thank you Father Angelo, I think the church has been silent far too long.


  • Romy says:


    Your point on the subject of obedience is very well taken but we’re not children anymore.

    The truth is that Father Mitch Pacwa’s article, which simply espouses his own opinion about a book, can never be equated to a restriction of the Catholic Church, even though he is a priest of very good standing.

    On the Nativity Story meanwhile, I think the depiction of Mary revealing the secret of the Anunciation to her parents and others is absolutely wrong! The annunciation was God’s secret revealed by the angel only to Mary, to Joseph and to Elizabeth on differrent occasions. Even the high priest Zechariah the husband of Elizabeth knew not!

    And if the people of Nazareth knew that secret about Mary as depicted in the film, it’s most likely Herod will know it as well! Do you think Mary would put the Child in grave danger and test God’s providence and protection by PROUDLY telling others (and committing the sin of pride) herself?

    I hope following 7 parts the Poem of the Man-God will be made into films as well so we can critique and discuss.
    1.) The Hidden Life,
    2.) The first year of the Public Life
    3.) The second year of the Public Life
    4.) The third year of the Public Life
    5.) Preparation to the Passion
    6.) The Passion
    7.) The Glorification
    Because, I think the book itself is an excellent read, personally.

  • Thom says:


    Yes it is a condemned work and here are a couple of links that discuss it.


    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in answer to questions, again reminded the world that the “Poem” has always been condemned. He went on to say in 1985:

    “After the dissolution of the Index, when some people thought the printing and distribution of the work was permitted, they were reminded again in L’Osservatore Romano (June 15, 1966) that ‘The Index retains its moral force despite its dissolution.”

    In 1993 Cardinal Ratzinger said the books cannot be considered supernatural in origin. He said that the best that could be said of them is that they were a badly fictionalized life of Jesus.

    Caritas of Birmingham, the American promoters of “The Poem” wrote a pleading letter to Cardinal Ratzinger on July 21, 1992 [more on that later]. Cardinal Ratzinger felt that the bishop of Birmingham, Alabama should answer the letter, and in 1993 Bishop Raymond J. Boland restated that they cannot be considered supernatural in origin.”


  • Evan says:

    That which does not bring us closer to God must, therefore, take us further away. For those concerned with affronts to their self-intellect I humbly offer two words…Trustful Surrender

  • Father Angelo says:


    Thank you for your kind words. Have only seen the trailer for the film, so I can’t really comment.

  • apostolate says:

    Ave Maria!

    Sorry for not moderating the last two comments by Evan and Thom in a more timely manner. Something went wrong with my email alert system. I did not know they were there untill just now. I have changed the commenting settings so that all that is requireed is giving the name and email and it will post automatically. Keep me informed if there are any bad comments.

    Ave Maria! Fra Roderic

  • Father Angelo says:

    Just a little update on the video and discussions that have ensued.

    I mixed it up with Steven D. Greydanus (SDG) et al. on Jimmy Akin’s site. Interesting as far as the movie goes.

    There is long, ongoing but tapering discussion on Mark Shea’s blog: Saturday, December 2, 10:37 AM, I’m skeptical that the whole “Mary Suffered No Birth Pangs” thing is an essential element of Catholic faith. A bit of nastiness on the part of my some of my critics.

    Also, there is a very long thread of comments (over 1400) on Free Republic’s blog. I have not participated. It seems they are off on a exegetical tangent at this point.

    Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, President, Human Life International has written a piece on the movie and the Virgin Birth. He links to the video.

    Finally, I saw an interesting interview of Mel Gibson that seems to confirm my interpretation of Gibson’s artistic rendering of the gospel (see excerpt below). I discussed this in the review, and at some length with Steven Greydanus. He and I essentially agree concerning what Gibson is trying to accomplish. We disagree as to whether Gibson’s approach is really the only adequate way to do it. As I stated to SDG:

    And I am grateful for your appreciation. However, at least Gibson’s Mary is consistent with the tradition. Perhaps this is so precisely because, as you say very well, The Passion’s “depiction of the Virgin Mary” is “iconic” and “mystical,” while the film’s character is “visionary” and “poetic.” Conversely, perhaps The Nativity Story fails relative to Mary precisely because it attempts “ordinary narrative psychological character development” of the Immaculate Conception.

    Gibson squarely faces the formidable obstacle facing anyone who tries to portray Christ and His Holy Mother in drama. This is only my interpretation of the following interview, but I hope Gibson is the one to do The Life of Christ, precisely because of the attitude he manifests here. Remember, behind it is a Catholic perspective.

    HANNITY: I can tell you what people I know that I’ve spoke to want you to do.

    GIBSON: What? “The Life of Christ,” right?

    HANNITY: How many times do you hear that? GIBSON: A lot. That would be a huge project, and it would be — I’d have to find an access to that. I’d have to think about that. It would have to be absolutely no cheesiness to it. You’d have to absolutely understand it.

    HANNITY: Explain that. Go on…

    GIBSON: Well, you’re trying to explain things of another realm in this realm and things beyond comprehension. And you would have to find a way to present that, that would enter people, and that they could make some sense of that would hit them emotionally and logically. Very difficult. I mean, it’s the inexplicable sometimes, you know? It’s a very tough, big task.



    Has Mel Gibson seen The Nativity Story, or is he at least aware of the controversy? Perhaps this has goaded him to consider more seriously doing “The Life of Christ.”

  • Father Angelo says:


    This thread is not about The Poem of the Man-God. Take your beef elsewhere.

    If you don’t accept the Church’s judgment, I am sorry. It is good enough for AirMaria.

    The last post (December 15th, 2006 at 2:21 am) will have to come down. It is too long a piece not to be on the subject.

  • Steve says:

    I also sincerely hope Gibson does “The Life of Christ.” We should try to encourage (goad, if necessary) him. Especially since there is another life of Christ movie project potentially in the works that will certainly turn out to be a travesty. Verhoeven, the same guy who made “Showgirls”, “Robocop” & “Starship Troopers” is considering taking up the project. Speaking of Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, Verhoeven has this to say:

    “It seemed to be saying the more blood is shed the more we are purified. I mean, honestly, such a thing is not possible. Nobody is purifying anybody else. The Church, not knowing how to handle the death of Jesus, this idea had to be presented. It is the ultra-fabrication. This is a corrective to 2,000 years of Christianity. I don’t know what the title will be but the tagline should be something like ‘Getting Jesus Back!???

    The “real” Jesus sounds like a real hoot.

  • Ave Maria! says:

    The comments from Fr. Euteneuer are also all over the internet and currently found on Catholic Exchange.

    They can be found at

    Ave Maria!

  • Martha says:

    I am a little late in weighing in, but I really thought the answer to whether or not Our Blessed Mother had labor pains was a no-brainer for Catholics.

    It aggravates me to no end to hear Catholics contending–still–that she did!

    I just had to post this:

    ” Is it not common law to all women to bring forht in pain? while Mary, as the Angleic Doctor
    and with him all the Holy Fathers and Doctors declare, experienced on the contrary an ineffable
    joy and unspeakable delight in the birth of her Divine Son.”

    ” The Burning Bush, which Moses saw on Mount Horeb, wrapt in flames, yet contrary to the laws of
    nature not consumed, evidently designs the eminent prerogative of Mary, who became the mother of Jesus,
    without the least diminution of her virginal purity…”

    “St Bernard, in regard to the same symbol, says: ‘And what can the burning yet unconsumed bush of
    Moses mean except Mary, who brought forth without experiencing the pains of travail?’ ”

    The above quotes are from: THE LIFE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, By Msgr. Romuald Gentilucci

    St. Peter Chrysologus: ” Where are they who think that the Virgin’s conceiving and the Virgin’s
    giving birth are just like those of other women? Theirs is of the earth, hers is of heaven,
    Hers is by divine power, theirs by human weakness..”