Three Reflections on The Two Popes

Source: AOSCBNnews

I enjoyed “The Two Popes” very much.  I realize it is a dramatization and I don’t know enough about Pope Francis and Benedict XVI to say what is truly accurate and what is not.  Be that as it may, I especially liked the part when Pope Francis talks about his role as Provincial in Argentina.

As he put it, he tried to save Jesuit lives.  However, it seemed as though he chose that over being present with the most marginalized who were being persecuted at the time.  There is touching scene where one of his Jesuit brothers, who was tortured during that time of repression in Argentina, forgives him and hugs him.

Whether this happened exactly as portrayed in the movie is beside the point.  The love that is shown is what truly matters.  It shows how we are all humans, humans in need of redemption, including popes.

by Norbert Piche


From the start of the movie it is clear that the 2 popes are not on the same page. Even the topic of communion reveals contrasting views. According to Bergoglio, “Communion is food for the starving not reward for the virtuous.” thus granting the sacrament to those who would otherwise not receive it.

Bergoglio wants to resign from a church he feels alienated by. Benedict responds with: “Does a shepherd run away when the wolves appear?”

Both men show their humanity. Bergoglio is a man of the people: it is a woman walking on the street who reveals to him the death of John Paul II. Benedict’s human condition is also revealed here, as in when he states: “the hardest thing is to listen, to hear His voice.”

The movie is about the need for love and the process of forgiveness. On two occasions love is quoted as being foundational along life’s journey: “It’s a big mistake to believe one can live without love.” (upon Bergoglio’s entrance to the seminary)  and “Truth may be vital but without love it is unbearable.” (Bergoglio quotes Benedict).

We are walked along the path of forgiveness as both men retrace their sinful pasts; each listens to each other’s confessions. And as they reminisce we are given a portion of completeness and closure which serves both the characters and the viewers.

by Grace Colella


I was very excited to watch Two Popes and even more excited to know that it was going on Netflix very quickly after it had appeared in cinemas. I have a very brief critique of the movie, but I hope you find it insightful.

At the beginning, the movie does not shed a nice light on Pope Benedict XVI—I think it is both harsh and necessary given some key difference His Holiness and I have on many issues.

Pope Francis’ view of sin as a wound, one that needs to be healed, is a refreshing take on what we have been taught: we have been taught that sin is shameful and a stain, but sin is a wound that we can heal through repentance and returning to God.

I enjoyed how nonchalantly Benedict XVI just told Francis that he was going to resign. It seemed juxtaposed to the ostentatious papacy of his—although he was still wearing the Prada shoes when he made his simple statement.

The film does a good job at humanising Benedict XVI. I think that what is so attractive about Francis’ papacy is his humanity whereas Benedict XVI’s papacy was, as stated earlier, ostentatious and lacking in relatability. The film should help to rehabilitate his image.

Further to that point, I feel that this movie is almost crafted to shine a kinder, more relatable light on Benedict XVI and to promote him over Francis as we all have a sense of the authentic Pope Francis. Is it a bad thing? No, I think it is a smart thing. For all the differences that Benedict XVI and I have, he was still pontiff and is owed respect, and we should recognise him for his great intellect.

I hope that as many people as possible view this movie. It is well worth the watch. It is also very convenient that it is on Netflix, so there are no excuses! And, according to what Jonathan Pryce said on America Media’s Jesuitical podcast, it is likely that Pope Francis himself will have watched the movie, so you should too!

by Luke Gilmore

Norbert Piché is the Directeur national Service jésuite des réfugiés - Country Director Jesuit Refugee Service – Canada

  • Peter Bisson SJ
    Posted at 08:48h, 17 April Reply

    Thank you Norbert, Grace, Luke!

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 10:27h, 17 April Reply

    I too appreciated the humanity of both men displayed in a less institutional setting. Who we are separate from a title, intellect and compassion to change necessary direction for our time. All great reviews, and a chance to look back and reassess through your commentaries. Thank you.

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