Summary:

Ardent Catholic Mark Wahlberg, 50, never passes up an opportunity to display his his incredible physique, but his his latest movie, "Father Stu" he does so in a church. "Crisis"magazine's Austin Ruse is outraged.

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I’ve always been a fan Mark Wahlberg, formerly Marky Mark, and I think he’s one of the sexiest men on the planet. There, I’ve said it, and I won’t apologize. So maybe soon I’ll put myself through the ordeal of sitting through a two-hour long faith-based movie, Father Stu, just to see him topless in church.

I’ve another reason to watch the movie. If a Christian declares that they positively hate a film, it usually means that it’s well worth watching. And Catholic Austin Ruse, writing for Crisis magazine, left no doubt that he hated it with a passion for its “Catholic illiteracy”, foul language and “unlikely dialogue.”

(Movieguide, beneath the headline “Redemptive Story Marred by Excessive Foul Language” totted up 106 obscenities (including 44 “F-words”) and seven strong profanities.)

Ruse wrote:

When it comes time to get baptized, in Church, Wahlberg slowly pulls off his shirt. Yes, he pulls off his shirt, in Church … to get baptized. The camera pans lovingly over Wahlberg’s pumped-up frame, he leans down and gets baptized …

Have you ever seen anyone in a Catholic Church take off their shirt for baptism? Me neither. The writer/director, first timer Rosalind Ross, loves Wahlberg’s body. In not one but two scenes she lovingly shows him in his skivvies. Why? You figure it out. 

Sounded all good to me, until I learned that Wahlberg developed a belly—”a balcony above the toy shop, as the Australians say— towards the end of the movie, when he becomes a priest.

Ruse also takes exception to the language:

These days, you get used to a few f-bombs in the movies. The children know not to use them. No one in our Catholic crowd uses them. It is a sorry state that you hear f-bombs everywhere, but everyone knows everyday usage is wrong.

Still, you get used to a few of them in the movies. What you don’t get used to is so very many of them. In this movie f-bombs are relentless—from the Wahlberg character, from his mom, his dad, all the time …

Granted, Ruse did conclude that, ultimately, the movie redeemed itself:

All the nastiness in the beginning makes sense given where he ends up: a holy priest changing lives. I hated this movie until the end when it kind of made sense.

Movieguide‘s synopsis of this true story says:

Very strong Christian worldview with strong moral content from a Catholic perspective where Jesus appears to a man, the Virgin Mary appears to a man, man comes back to life after prayer, confession occurs, a Jesus statue is shown, man hits Jesus figure but nothing happens to it, and there’s redemption and transformation by the appearance of Jesus, plus a reference to a homosexual encounter, and one man is shown dressed in women’s clothes

The film has received mixed reviews, but the one I liked best was penned by Vincent Mancini for Uproxx. He expected a “lighthearted romp” but what he got instead was:

A religious movie. Not just a movie with some Catholicism in it, but a full-on hard sell for Papism itself, complete with a near-death experience and a protagonist’s religious awakening. Father Stu is essentially Heaven is for Real for TradCaths.

He concluded:

It’s vaguely inspiring, slightly tedious to sit through, and ultimately unknowable, like any good Catholic sermon.

Oh, and I should add that Wahlberg teamed up with a Sedevacantist traditionalist Catholic, Mel Gibson in this biographical movie. Sedevacantists believe that since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958 (or, in some cases, the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963) subsequent popes have been neither true Catholics nor true popes, but rather heretics because they espoused Modernism.

Veteran journalist and free speech activist Barry Duke was, for 24 years, editor of The Freethinker magazine, the second oldest continually active freethought publication in the world, established by G.W....