Vatican Corner 07-01-18

A gathering of gentlemen wearing scarlet trimmed black cassocks in the streets of Rome next to the Vatican is a rare site, especially since cardinals tend to stay in their apartments, offices, and vehicles. But in May, 2018 cardinals seemed to be all around, standing in the streets, checking their cellphones, sittig on parked mopeds, petting dogs, and lining up for lunch with bibs on. Netflix was filming a drama entitled “ The Pope ” about the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, his later resignation, and his relationship with Pope Francis during the 2013 papal transition. The drama is said to convey Francis ’ ‘ reluctance to take the top post, his humility and devotion to the poor, and his galvanizing force for tolerance and change. ’ Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is playing Benedict and actor Jonathan Pryce is playing Francis. Mr. Pryce was said to look remarkable like Pope Francis. The gentlemen that appeared to be cardinals were actually extras, chosen, as one extra explained, because they looked the part, with their long aquiline noses, and because of their advanced age. Another extra explained that he couldn’t resist the chance to portray a cardinal, even though the pay wasn’t great. “ We do it for love, a sacrifice, ” he said. Among the extras were pretend: nuns, priests, Swiss Guards and journalists. Thomas Williams, a former real priest who is now a real journalist, was on hand as a script consultant and also is playing a journalist in the movie. He said he made sure that this production treated Benedict fairly and “ there were some things that needed changing. ” Lots of people seeing the faux cardinals thought they were real. A tourist from Vancouver asked them for a photo. They hugged her why her husband took the picture. She thanked them and then asked for a blessing of her St. Christopher metal. That ’ s when they explained they were extras in a movie and not real, and she stopped smiling. Even Vatican officials were fooled. Real Bishop Paul Tighe walking down the street saw all the faux cardinals and he said “ for a moment I tried to see if I could recognize any of them. ” One extra said posing with pilgrims and occasionally giving a blessing to tourists was the least he and his friends could do. “ We let them think what they want to think, it makes them happier. ” “ The Pope ” is Netflix’s continuing effort to add new content to its library of series and movies. It explores the story around an extremely uncommon event, the resignation of a pope which hadn’t occurred in 600 years.