Pope Francis Blesses Irish TV Film, ‘Faith of Our Fathers’

Pope Francis has endorsed a film that depicts the tale of a Catholic priest who evaded British colonial authorities during a dark period in Irish history characterized by severe religious discrimination.

Produced by the Irish chapter of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a global Catholic media network, the film, Faith of Our Fathers, was screened at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome Vatican on May 2, according to the Catholic News Agency

The film tells the story of a Catholic priest who goes into hiding during the oppressive era of Ireland’s post-Reformation 16th and 17th centuries, when penal laws imposed severe restrictions and punishments on Catholics, curtailing their liberties and privileges.

In penal times, Catholic education, institutions and doctrine were prohibited, Mass celebrations were forbidden, and the Irish language was outlawed.

Besides being subjected to social and economic marginalization, Catholics were forbidden from holding public office, explained the film’s director, Aidan Gallagher, who is also director of EWTN Ireland.

Despite the passage of time, Gallagher said, he finds numerous parallels between the Ireland of yesteryear and contemporary Irish society. In fact, the film’s story aims to link historical and present-day challenges, prompting viewers to contemplate the shared ordeals Christians endure in various regions across the world. 

Participants from various countries, including India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, provided feedback and shared testimonies of similar experiences in their respective nations.  

“It was almost like a proof of concept, if you like, because so many people stepped forward to say, ‘This movie may be set in the penal times many hundred years ago in Ireland but we are still experiencing this in our country today,’” the Catholic News Agency quoted Gallagher as saying.  

Gallagher wrote a letter to the pope a month before the Rome premiere of the Faith of Our Fathers, requesting a blessing for the film. In the letter, he explained the movie’s relevance and expressed that a papal blessing would contribute to its success as well as the spread of the faith globally. 

Gallagher received a blessing from Francis after the. “It was a very blessed occasion for me personally, and for the whole mission of EWTN Ireland,” the director said.

“The Holy Spirit is what we need to propagate this message of truth, propagate this message of commitment to the Catholic faith, particularly in these modern times, so that was a very, very strong thing for us and thanks be to God for it.”