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Catholic activists hit out at Belfast cinema for screening ‘blasphemous’ lesbian nun movie on Good Friday

‘This movie is a fraud and nothing more than a blatant attack on the Catholic faith,’ a spokesperson for the Catholic group said

Tom Murray
Tuesday 12 April 2022 17:00 BST
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A Catholic activist group has launched a petition condemning a cinema in Belfast for showing Benedetta, a film about lesbian nuns, on Good Friday.

Paul Verhoeven’s film is based on the real-life 17th-century Italian abbes, Benedetta Carlini, who was stripped of her authority after her relationship with another nun was discovered. She was also accused of being a fake stigmatist – someone who miraculously receives the bodily wounds of Christ’s crucifixion.

Responding to news that the film is being distributed by Mubi, the Irish Society for Christian Civilisation – whose website shares its campaigns against abortion and gay marriage – called director Paul Verhoeven “a fraud”.

“This movie is a fraud and nothing more than a blatant attack on the Catholic faith,” Damien Murphy, a spokesman for the ISCC told Belfast Telegraph.

The film is out across Ireland and the UK on Friday 15 April, but Murphy picked out the Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast particularly, saying: “To launch this film on Good Friday is a calculated insult to Christians everywhere. And shame on the Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast for permitting this showing at any time, but especially on this highly significant religious occasion.”

The ISCC’s petition, which is addressed directly to the film’s producer and distributor Mubi, reads: “I strongly oppose and condemn your distribution and promotion of Paul Verhoeven’s film Benedetta. It offends God, and countless Catholics all over the world.”

‘Benedetta’ (Guy Ferrandis/SBS Productions)

The petition states that the film “blasphemously features” “several Jesus-on-nun intense ‘make outs’”, “a statuette of Mary Most Holy used as a sex-toy”, and “voyeuristic lesbian nuns’ ‘pornography’”. In a graphic, the page adds that “Hollywood and worldwide media are ALL-IN with the sophistry of ‘based on a true story’”.

Representatives for Queen’s Film Theatre and Mubi did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

It’s not the first time Catholic groups have protested the film’s release. The American Society for the Defence of Tradition, Family and Property gathered outside the film’s New York Film Festival premiere last year with signs calling the film “blasphemous”.

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