You may have heard that The Pope is suddenly cool with homosexuality.
In an interview with America Magazine, Pope Francis I said some very wise and odd things. He didn’t go so far as to change the Vatican’s position on social issues like homosexuality or reproductive rights, but he suggested that perhaps they would better spend their time on other issues. The result, as you might guess, was confusion and outrage among the demagogue community and excitement everywhere else.
We also learned about Pope Francis I’s taste in movies. Apparently he’s got a thing for classic Italian cinema, and grew up with Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi. The two films he mentioned by name as his favorites are Federico Fellini’s “La Strada” and Roberto Rossellini’s “Rome, Open City.” Pretty cool trivia, right?
I think it’s more than trivia. Basically, the Pope’s relationship with cinema and his understanding of the fights over homosexuality and contraception are equal parts of the same philosophy. The religious ideas in “La Strada” and “Rome, Open City” are complements to the pontiff’s new openness, part and parcel of a single worldview. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these films turned the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio into a liberal, but there’s a connection that goes beyond simple taste. And so instead of talking about queer cinema this week, I’d like to take some time to examine how some old straight films have influenced a new straight Pope to be kinder and more philosophically open to gay people.