On Trial for Being a Catholic – A Creative Video

Gavel in court room
Gavel in court room

There is an old saying, “If being a Catholic were against the Law, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Tragically for many Catholics, being a Catholic is little less than a sound or label they go by when they need to fill in the blank on a questionnaire: Religion ______________. Only 25% go to Mass on Sunday and even many at Mass dissent on many critical matters.

In a more ecumenical vein, the writer Maya Angelou once wrote: “A woman said to me the other day, regarding herself, “I am a Christian.” And I said in reply, “Already?”

Indeed, for Christian is more than a label, it is a life.

The video below is a very creative one that addresses the question of being a Catholic. A young woman is a trial for “the crime” of being Catholic and the case seems like a slam-dunk when she “admits” to “the crime.” But her defense attorney comes “to the rescue” and in so doing well illustrates that there is more to being a Catholic that saying you are one. Consider watching this video. It is more creative than first meets the eye, and it lays out a lot of tendencies that are quite common today.

48 Replies to “On Trial for Being a Catholic – A Creative Video”

  1. Very creative video – had a Twilight Zone feel to it. I would however like to see it expanded a little bit and deal with other moral issues that are more contested by those who call themselves “Catholic”. I think there is the danger that the “take away” here is that as long as I am freely volunteering to help the poor that is all that is needed to be a good Catholic. I know many students at the nearby Jesuit high school who have gone New Age or totally lapsed into religious non-observance and yet are service oriented.

    1. You’re totally correct, Matthew. A more to the point question would be, “Do you believe all that the Catholic Church teaches?” Or do you pick and choose?

  2. It will be shown this coming Monday to all the Confirmation kids at my parish Religious Ed Classes!

  3. Jenny in the video is a good actress. I think the video makes for a good discussion, that’s for sure. Catholics and Christians are being persecuted more and more. T

    1. Peg:
      FYI – Catholics ARE Christians…the only ones who believe in EVERYTHING that Jesus taught anyway. Sadly, those who say they are but aren’t Catholic are the “pick & choose” variety. To be a true Christian, we must belong to (and believe all the teachings of) the one Church started by Jesus Christ Himself – the Catholic Church.

      1. Absolutely correct, Patrick. When people ask me what religion/denomination I am I reply, “I TRY to be Catholic.” Catholicism is the fullness and the paradigm of Christianity. But it is a narrow road. (hmm…that sounds familiar).

  4. Our diocesan bishop recently presented a lecture on Dei Verbum of Vatican II. The bishop mentioned that theologian Karl Rahner was once asked why he was Catholic. Everyone at Rahner’s lecture expected a profound answer, but Rahner replied, “Because my mother took me to Catholic church!”
    …I recall singer Glen Campbell once made the comment that he was not going to introduce his children to any form of worship because he wanted the kids to decide for themselves. I thought, “Well, the kids will decide what Pop has decided: to embrace no deep thoughts whatsoever.”
    …So even if young adults do not passionately embrace the faith, if the seed has been planted and watered, there is always hope that mature faith will blossom forth in due time. So I do see a message of hope in this video…

    1. “The bishop mentioned that theologian Karl Rahner was once asked why he was Catholic. Everyone at Rahnerโ€™s lecture expected a profound answer, but Rahner replied, โ€œBecause my mother took me to Catholic church!โ€.”
      If this was truly a valid reason for one to be a Catholic, how are we to explain a large number of prominent converts to Catholicism from Cardinal Newman to Fr. Neuhaus? After all, their mothers took them to different churches. If this anecdote is true, Rahner’s answer is particularly flippant and unhelpful.

      1. I agree! My parents baptized me and took me to the Lutheran Church. I loved Jesus and enjoyed my life as a Lutheran. At age 60 I discovered the Truth of the Catholic Church! I was formerly very anti-Catholic, but upon examination of the evidence of the Church, God’s grace brought me into full communion in 2010!

      2. …Oy vey. …I see what you mean, Msgr. Pope, about fragging from one’s own troops. It does wear a person down. Golly, must EVERYTHING be a constant debate!? Lighten up! Really, do we need to debate that proper upbringing is critical for setting youngsters on a proper pathway, and that children will most likely follow the pathway set by their parents? Of course there are prominent Catholic converts. God bless them. But I would venture to guess that most of us sitting in the pews are there because our parents took us to that particular church.

  5. Strangely, there is not a single criterion mentioned in this video that would help identify this young lady as a Catholic. Generic Christian, yes, but not Catholic. The defense lawyer should have asked her whether she completely upheld the truth of the Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium; whether she unreservedly believed in the doctrine of transubstantiation; and whether the Pope was for her the visible head of the one true holy and apostolic Church (to name just a few pertinent issues). One can be an atheist and still follow Jesus’ call for charitable behavior.

  6. of course any good person will serve…but I think the video says to be guilty of being a Catholic requires the whole package…service, Mass attendance, dignity, respect of parents and the clergy, acknowledgement of the Eucharist, honor to the blessed mother, etc….it’s tough to be guilty of being a Catholic…thank you Jesus for giving me so many second chances at it…

  7. Well done. The use of a prosecutor with the name of Kafka was a nice touch, even if a bit precious. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s true that the makers of the film might have gotten in something about spiritual works of mercy along with the corporal works that were mentioned but, all in all, I found it an entertaining descent into an existential nightmare. Kafkaesque even. ๐Ÿ˜‰ AMDG, Steven

  8. Well, a pretty girl like that should definitely be thinking about getting a husband! Thus we can thank God she likes boys, as the evidence from the retreat proves. She’s not the nun type. She is obviously full of natural affection and should get married soon and have lots of babies which she baptizes Catholic; this will be her godly service. Being a mother is good work for God in which she will have ample opportunities for spiritual and corporal works of mercy for which Christ may reward her on the last day.

    I agree with Cathy. “Why are you a Catholic Mr. Rahner?” “Because my mother took me to Church.”

  9. Charity is great. Would you die for a wafer of bread? (The Body and Blood of Christ?)
    Would you stand up and proclaim it as being part of your being Catholic? What about all the other charges that some make against you for being Catholic? Would you stand up and proclaim that Mary is the Mother of God?
    Would you stand up and defend a life? Would you stand up and defend a moral issue? It takes a lot to be a Catholic. It takes a lot to be a joyful Catholic. Be one and dream of Heaven. God loves all of us, lets love Him in return by loving His creation.

  10. I’ll echo some of the other comments by saying the video, while clever, runs the risk of reducing Catholicism to social service work. Jenny Smith could well have claimed to be Catholic and worked in a soup kitchen and still not have been Catholic. It would have been nice to have seen the defense attorney ask her if she believed abortion to be evil (with her being pro-choice) or if she could explain transubstantiation (with her holding the Eucharist to be just a symbol) or have her recite the new translation of the Nicene Creed (which of course she wouldn’t be able to do from heart) or even ask her when the last time she went to confession was (years, no doubt). Overall, I’d give it a B.

      1. Actually, the video speaks about “going to church”, not about Mass attendance. Going to church, chastity, respect for parents, modesty, even attending a retreat – how is this particularly Catholic? The Protestants observe these things, too.

          1. “Sigh…” is not a rational reply, Monsignor. One should be honest and admit the truth, however inconvenient.

          2. Agree with you Msgr. Triple sigh… It seems we want to cram the summa in 2 minute-bites when metanoiate and euangelion would suffice. Is there more to it? Sure.

    1. Why would a new translation of anything be important? Recitation of the Creed has nothing to do with being Catholic, but accepting what is professed in the Creed is what is important.

      Maybe the point is that to be Catholic one has to DO something and it should be evident. Corporal works of mercy are easier to reference. Spiritual works of mercy as less visible (maybe witnesses could provide that testimony).

      And that is a very valid point: to be Catholic is to let God direct our lives. The better Catholic one is, the more one’s life is directed by willful submission to the authority of the Church and the grace of God.

      1. “Why would a new translation of anything be important? Recitation of the Creed has nothing to do with being Catholic…”

        Have you ever heard the phrase “Lex orandi, lex credendi”? If we don’t care how we worship, we might as well stop going to church altogether. After all, “God is everywhere”…

        1. Since I was baptized, I never heard the “new translation” of the Creed. It was always the same Latin liturgical form.

          Would you like me to hold you to my “standard” of Catholic? Recite the Nicene Creed as adapted for the Roman Rite. No translation.

  11. Teaching Catholicism is probably more beneficial than placing the congregation on trial. God knows there were plenty of priests an nuns I grew up under that could have been charged with the shortcomings of their faith. So now we eat our own. The secularist are winning.

    1. You say this like they are two completely different things. In teaching what it means to be a faithful Catholic, you are necessarily saying that people that willfully neglect such things aren’t doing that good of a job at it. Now it is true that we shouldn’t go around just attacking each other, but do you not think it likely that a hypersensitivity to implying that Catholics are less faithful than we ought to be might be partially responsible for the 25% Mass attendance and the like?

      I mean, no one wants to go around telling people they’re bad Catholics, and some diplomacy and tact should certainly be used to avoid just pushing people away (and the fact that ignorance plays a part for many people should be considered), and we certainly must make sure that we don’t end up attacking others just to make ourselves feel superior. But all that said, it should be pointed out that the phrase “I’m Catholic” means something, and that as a whole Catholics in the U.S. are doing a pretty abysmal job of living up to it.

  12. Well done….I would like to see a similar work done for adult Catholics. Older Catholics may not struggle with sexuality or parental authority issues like teens do, but there are other issues—-such as protecting life, being an involved parent, reception of the Eucharist and understanding the True Presence, growth in the sacrament of marriage, how we behave “in the marketplace”, and evidence of an active prayer life that should be enough “evidence” to convict us.

  13. Excellent dystopian dream. We already have a model of what being on trial for being Catholic looks like: the European and particularly English persecutions (Yes, the ancient Roman persecutions, but we don’t have many of the legal records from then). To my knowledge, there never was a crime for being Catholic. Rather there were specific crimes like attending Mass, not attending the state-approved worship times, etc. And then of course the Test Acts, where if you aspired to any public-service job higher than Town Dog Catcher, you had to explicitly deny transubstantiation to a court.

    We have modern Test Acts–If you want to be a Supreme Court justice, you have to have to sound ambiguous on abortion.

    Most of us aren’t going to be Supreme Court justices. However, us common Joe Catholics have a Test Act looming on the horizon: same-sex “marriage”. You will notice in the societal rush to put a legal rubberstamp on same-sex mutual-masturbation arrangements, there is not a whiff of any conscience protection measures in them.

    1. Exactly why our good prophet Pontiff is repeatedly saying that he foresees a smaller Church in the future, with all its privileges and position in society gone, and with many, many “Catholics” having abandoned the Truth (Jesus Christ Himself). This is going to be as great a test to the depth of our Catholic faith as ever there was. Now is the time to prepare ourselves, with much prayer, penance and fasting.

  14. Interesting. The Gospel of Matthew is clear about the corporal works of mercy. But, the movie would be good for discussion with youth if there were clear Catholic teachings that were in question. Obviously, this movie is a Confirmation tool, but there is nothing about a relationship with Christ based on the deposit of faith, that is to say, an objective faith that we profess. There was no reference to the Eucharist, which has historically always been the question of Christians and their practice. On the whole, the video is well made, but needs address Catholic issues: Eucharist, Pope, confession (which means sins). AND!! What is the purpose of the Church? To know Jesus Christ.

    Ideas for the producers/writers:
    Defense “you said that you did not want to go to Mass. Why? What is this Mass? Why is it so special? You obviously have shown us that you do not need to go to Mass to be a Catholic.” “Who is Jesus?”

    1. Fr. Eric, you ought to make a video, or hire someone in your parish to make it. But remember videos need to be brief. What will you include/exclude? IOW, I fear that we Catholics ought not be too critical of good efforts. Maybe we should applaud what is in fact a good effort, and an engaging video, and then take up the challenge to do our own efforts. New angles could be pursued other matters highlighted etc. I know how discouraged I can get when I try to get “out there” and make a difference only to be criticized by the very Catholics I would hope might support me. I have plenty of critics in the secular world which I expect, but it is especially discouraging to get criticism from fellow Catholics because I didn’t say something in exactly the way they think I should say it. There is nothing wrong in the video, but like any short production, it cannot say everything and surely not everything the way everyone wants. Perhaps it is sufficient to provoke thought and encourage others to take up similar efforts. I applaud the makers for getting out there.

      1. Very good points Msgr. This is obviously a confirmation instruction tool that starts the thought process and gets the discussion going. It is the job of the facilitator to steer the conversation into these other areas of what it truly means to be Catholic. A video containing all the points mentioned above would turn out to be a documentary that few would watch.

  15. I knew someone who once said that if the Commandments were easy they wouldn’t be Commandments. Myself, I found her guilty of being Catholic.

  16. Does a great job of capturing the tension between longing for and loving one’s Catholic identity, but struggling to grasp the deeper implications. I liked the ending — I thought it captured a genuine desire in the accused to follow her faith. But my favorite part was the dig at mandatory “volunteering”, my personal pet peeve :-).

  17. Brilliant video… Hopefully a taster of more to come… But brilliant all the same! Thank you for doing this! ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. Fr. Geary,
    What is the true meaning of being a Roman Catholic? Is there a difference between a catholic and a Roman Catholic?
    Being a ROman Catholic woman, I was saddened by the video of a woman charged in a case of being a Roman Catholic, or did the judge say you are being accused of being a catholic. We are all catholic, correct? THat is, if we are all Christians. Correct? It says it right in the Apostles Creed.
    If I am guilty of being a Catholic? catholic? and a Roman Catholic? Who will protect me? Hmmm? I ponder on that very powerfully and strongfully?
    Now, I was Catholic before I was born? Correct? I was in my mother’s womb. My baptismal, etcetera was already planned, correct? I ask, because I already knew as a mother that I would raise my children as Roman Catholic. I just knew. Also, I knew that God was always with me even when my Catholic and Christian and people of all and then some other faiths did not support me.
    By the way, I am tired of cleaning up this state for not being paid for it. Why should I have to suffer other people’s sins a Roman Catholic (RC) may say?
    Being a RC mom, grandma, educator, semi-retired teacher, a lady, not a Mrs. anymore, not a Ms. because I am not a woman’s libber, or a Miss for I am past the age of 30 why should I “fear” in anyway shape or form of not attending Saint Jame’s Parish, which is a Roman Catholic church, correct?
    Being a RC, I have known ehtearally, at least sensed it with my connections in prayer with God that I felt camera’s and tapes on me for years… as I now research my personal past in a pathetic marriage of which I am proud to state of being legally divorced for the past 13 years. Do you know that Fr. Jim from Saint Anne’s RC parish in Ashland, Wisconsin did not want to marry me? Why? He just knew that man’s behavior even before I shared certain things. Truth? Never thought about it then, but I was pregnant with my former husband’s child; I did not have an abortion. God allowed me to have a miscarriage. Now, Roman Catholic
    I am at a Super 8 Hotel… Strange occurrences; please protect all women, especially RC. As a child of God, I see and hear the truth. I am no longer blinded by the actors of this world. Period.
    May God continue to bless the USA, and all countries.
    Pax et bonum.

  19. I am Proud to be Roman Catholic, a True born American, and Proud that Father Brian Alloysius Geary proposed to me; and Yes, I did accept his Proposal. My dearest friend from my Doctoral Residency knows she will design my Wedding Gown. Brian, Brian, Do you hear me Darling Brian. Please, my Heart is Tender. “Love Me Tender” by Elvis is a great song. Don’t you think? No jokes, no teasing, no hyperboles, no visual words, just that I do Truly Love You Brian. God Bless You, Always, Michele

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