"Marred by Unbiblical, Politically Correct Falsehoods"
POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD is a documentary depicting the worldview of Pope Francis on a number of social, spiritual and political issues. POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD leads to some stirring, touching moments with Pope Francis and has a strong Christian, moral worldview from a Roman Catholic viewpoint. However, these positive elements are mitigated by some Romantic, unbiblical, politically correct, environmentalist content, including some superficial and unbiblical comments from Pope Francis, such as one silly comment from the Pope that Christians should never try to proselytize anyone.
Rather than telling Pope Francis’ life story, the documentary takes a philosophical approach. Director Wim Wenders, who’s a self-professed Christian who previously worked with spiritual themes in movies like WINGS OF DESIRE, asks some questions about the passage of time in humans’ lives and the importance of figuring out how to best spend one’s brief life on the planet. Using footage from around the Earth, Wenders mentions a litany of mankind’s ills, including wars, violence, terrorism, environmental destruction, and poverty. He says the Earth will soon have eight billion people in it, with one billion destined to be in dire poverty (this statistic is false; in reality, the number of people in extreme poverty has been decreasing for the last three decades). While this appears to be leading into heavy-handed polemics, once the focus turns to Pope Francis, the movie becomes more nuanced and occasionally very affecting and thought-provoking.
Wenders first shows the Pope in his prior life as a cardinal in Argentina, speaking in 1999 to a small crowd in a Buenos Aires park, Francis talks about the importance of giving brotherly love to all and the fact that all of mankind are one family under God. Wenders then jumps to the dramatic footage of the huge crowds at the Vatican that eagerly welcomed the Pope’s election in 2013.
The documentary quickly establishes that this is no ordinary Pope, explaining that Francis is the first Pope to be from the Americas, the Southern hemisphere, the first Jesuit, and the first to adopt the name of Saint Francis of Assisi. Footage of a basilica in Assisi mix with footage from a silent movie about his life, as Wenders explains that the pontiff’s choice of Francis is significant because he regards the saint as a “revolutionary for Christ.” Thus, Pope Francis wants to put an immense focus on the idea that material poverty can be a condition where great spiritual growth occurs.
Yet, Pope Francis calls modern-day poverty a tragedy. In several passages, he makes strong comments about the importance paying people enough money to provide for their families, while also speaking about the dignity of work when calling for some solutions to rampant unemployment in some nations. However, during an impromptu press conference on an airplane, Francis says, “Who am I to judge?” in regard to practicing homosexuals as long as they espouse belief in God and says God has equal love for everyone, even atheists. (Of course, the documentary doesn’t ask how can you believe in God if you disobey His moral laws?) Meanwhile, Wenders parallels Pope Francis’ extensive outreach to Muslim leaders with a similar outreach by Saint Francis to the sultan of Egypt during the Crusades. In this section, Pope Francis says that, in dealing with Muslims or people of any other religion, Christians should “never proselytize.” However, the documentary doesn’t mention the fact that, when Saint Francis went to meet the Egyptian sultan, he went there to proselytize the Sultan, to convert to the Christian faith! In fact, two friars claimed that, after Saint Francis died, he appeared to them and told them to go convert the Sultan on the Sultan’s own death bed, and the Sultan actually did convert!
In the documentary, Pope Francis is shown visiting the Philippines after a hurricane, a poor hospital in Africa, and refugee camps across Europe during the recent immigration wave there. He also addresses the U.S. Congress about immigration, saying that the Golden Rule is essential to living and that lawmakers must consider how they would want to be treated when making laws.
Wenders also shows a few instances that provide examples of how Francis has scaled back the lavish lifestyle afforded most Popes at the Vatican. Other admirable moments include the pontiff’s strong words against the church’s pedophilia crisis, his passionate advocacy for children’s happiness and well-being in any situation, and his love of family.
Throughout the movie, the images of the human spirit rising above unimaginable hardships through faith in God is beautifully depicted and deeply stirring. Wenders uses some magnificent music to go with his montages of the Pope’s interactions with people worldwide. He ends the movie with a comment from the Pope about the need to greet other people with a smile and the need for having a sense of humor, which the Pope illustrates by citing a prayer poem by Sir Thomas More saying, “Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest.” Pope Francis says he prays More’s words every day.
POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD leads to some stirring, touching moments with Pope Francis and other people. It also has a strong Christian, moral worldview overall from a Roman Catholic viewpoint. For example, Pope Francis makes comments about the importance of family life, about paying workers enough money for them to live, about the value of work, about promoting a proper balance of work and relaxation in our hectic modern world, about the need for love, and about avoiding temptation and sin. He also mentions Jesus Christ and God and makes a few biblical references, although he makes no overt references to the Holy Spirit.
However, all this positive Christian, moral, biblical content is marred by empty and even false Romantic, unbiblical, politically correct, and environmentalist platitudes and comments. Many of these empty, false platitudes and comments come from Pope Francis, but some of them come from Director Wim Wenders. For instance, Wenders’ claim that species are going extinct at a high rate because of human pollution and human-caused climate change has been disputed by many experts. Also, Wenders shows images of human pollution and waste, such as a large landfill where poor people are picking through tons of garbage as if this is a common occurrence in many places around the world. Accumulation of plastic in our oceans is a valid concern, but modern methods of using landfills greatly lessen the impact of landfills on the environment. Also, it is capitalist countries that have developed ways to reduce human pollution and even clean our air and water.
One of the misleading leftist canards Pope Francis repeats is the idea that 20% of the people in the world own 80% of the world’s wealth. In the first place, capitalism tends to reduce the amount of poverty in a country. In contrast, socialist policies can increase the level of poverty and income inequality. For example, studies have shown that minimum wage laws reduce the number of jobs and reduce people’s income because businesses under minimum wage laws not only eliminate jobs but also reduce the hours their employees work. Also, the specific people in that 20% the Pope mentions fluctuates. Thus, many people with less wealth can gain wealth to enter the 20% while many other people can lose wealth and drop out of the 20%. In a 2014 interview, Economist Thomas Sowell noted, “Americans who, for example, start out in the bottom 20 percent, over 95 percent of the people who start out there are no longer there 15 years later. In fact, more of them reach the top 20 percent after that period of time than remain in the bottom 20 percent. So, the stats that are normally quoted are usually very misleading (https://world.wng.org/2014/12/thomas_sowell_on_the_root_causes_of_income_inequality).” Sowell added that about 10 to 12 percent of people live in mountain regions, which tend to be areas with high levels of poverty. He also noted that people in Sub-Sahara Africa live in a more poverty-stricken area because the desert and their lack of sea ports separates them from the rest of the world and thus limits their access to sources of wealth creation. Finally, he noted that wealth can depend on cultural differences. For example, the population in Japan tends to be older, and older people tend to have more wealth than younger people.
However, the worst, and probably most Non-Christian, thing Pope Francis says is his admonition to Christians to “never proselytize.” This directly contracts what Jesus Christ says in Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Jesus says a similar thing in Luke 24:47. Thus, Christians are actually called to go forth and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, that’s exactly what the Pope’s namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi did.
These offhand comments by Pope Francis and Wim Wenders taint the good things in their documentary. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution in approaching POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD. It’s better to be a Man of THE Word, the Holy Scriptures, than to spread confusion and politically correct falsehoods.
POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD is a documentary depicting the worldview of Pope Francis on a number of social, spiritual and political issues. The documentary shows Pope Francis speaking to crowds in South America, at the Vatican, in Philadelphia, and in Africa. It includes comments from the Pope from an intimate interview. Pope Francis is shown visiting the Philippines after a hurricane, a poor hospital in Africa, and refugee camps. He also addresses the U.S. Congress about immigration.
POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD leads to some stirring, touching moments with Pope Francis and others. It has a strong Christian, moral worldview from a Roman Catholic viewpoint. Pope Francis makes comments about the importance of family life, about the value of work and about the need for love. He mentions Jesus Christ and God and makes a few biblical references. However, these positive elements are mitigated by some false Romantic, unbiblical, politically correct, environmentalist content. They include some superficial, unbiblical comments from Pope Francis, such as one anti-biblical comment that Christians should never try to proselytize anyone.