Andy Garcia, right and Mauricio Kuri star in "For Greater Glory." Garcia, a Catholic, plays a Mexican Revolution-era general lured out of retirement a decade later to fight his own government's severe curbing of religious freedoms. (CNS photo/ARC Entertainment)

Call me an optimist, but I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, the new film “For Greater Glory” might help thaw the heart of some of the cynics out there. I was wrong. At least about the cynics in the mainstream media anyway.

The film chronicles the popular uprising of the “Cristeros” against the tyrannical power of the Mexican federal government back in the 1920s. Mexico’s anti-clerical laws at the time resulted in severe repression and persecution of the Catholic Church.

Blessed John Paul II canonized a group of 25 martyrs, mostly priests, from this period and Pope Benedict XVI beatified José Sánchez del Río, a 14-year-old Cristero who refused to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. The portrayal of this young boy’s heroic faith is one of the most moving aspects of the movie. Bring extra tissue.

Yes, the film is violent. It’s about a war, after all, and war involves lots of shooting and dying. Pacifists will not flock to “For Greater Glory.” But to be fair, the movie is no more violent than others that deal with war, and quite frankly, far less than most of what moviegoers are expected to tolerate. The difference is that “For Greater Glory” highlights the courageous faith of priests and laity who were willing to lay down their lives for the Lord.

That’s something that’s still going on today. On June 3, a suicide bomber killed 15 Christians at prayer in a church in Nigeria. The ongoing repression and violence against Christians throughout the Middle East, Asia and around the world continues. And as usual, it’s pretty much ignored. I can’t give you details about the 15 Nigerian Christians killed because nobody’s writing much about them. They’re on a growing list of nameless, faceless martyrs of our own time, forgotten by the media elite but not by God.

Here in the United States, we’re facing restrictions on our religious liberties. Though our lives are not at risk for our faith, the federal government wants to shove paying for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients down our throats. Church leadership is not falling for any so-called “accommodations” in this regard, either.

The infringement on our liberties as Catholics goes beyond that, however. Many people are unaware that the feds also want to force Catholic adoption agencies to place children in homes with same-sex couples. Catholic adoption agencies have closed rather than cave to these outrageous demands. The government is also trying to restrict the way the Church cares for undocumented immigrants.

In response to this attempt to limit the free exercise of our faith, the USCCB has called for a two-week period of prayer, fasting, education and action that begins June 21 (DETAILS). I’m sincerely hoping Catholic Sun readers will wholeheartedly join in this prayerful effort to restore and protect religious liberty in our country.

But back to the film. Not surprisingly, mainstream media critics pretty much hated it, so don’t hold your breath for Academy Awards. After all, “For Greater Glory” shines a light on Hollywood’s arch-nemesis, the hated Catholic Church. You know, the institution it likes to belittle and insult, in spite of its insistence that we all be tolerant of anti-Catholic propaganda like “The Di Vinci Code” or “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

The Arizona Republic gave “For Greater Glory” a lousy two stars out of five and called it “a pious mess of a movie.” The Boston Globe smirked that the film was “a total embarrassment.” The Los Angeles Times moaned that it was “stodgy, overblown and repetitive slog.”

Don’t listen to these guys because, as usual, they’re wrong. This is the kind of film Catholics ought to support and promote. I’m sick of movies that mock our faith and values, corrupt our culture and shamelessly trash the Church and our priests.

If you haven’t seen “For Greater Glory” yet, check it out. And please remember to pray for our country as well as for those who face death and persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Joyce, I saw the movie on Sunday and you are right – the story is compelling, the cinematography amazing and the acting superb. Andy Garcia gives an extremely powerful performance and the supporting cast fill their roles admirably. Especially poignant were the scenes involving the great actor Peter O’Toole and young Jose. As an old priest passing on the faith to the 14 year old Jose, O’Toole gives a truly touching performance.

    Our friend Eduardo has a small role as one of the young men who are martyred for the faith. The film does not glorify the violence but reveals man’s inhumanity toward man.

    In light of our current struggles to defend the freedoms so precious in this nation, I must recommend that everyone see “For Greater Glory” and then ask the question – “What would you do to protect and preserve freedom?”

  2. Joyce,
    I read Ann Barnhardt on Twitter who says the Church shouldn’t close anything because that’s what the federal government wants because then they take over. Whoa!

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