Documentary film about Joseph Ratzinger as “Guardian of the Faith” –

Der emeritierte Papst Benedikt, 2017

Swiss television SRF’s program “Sternstunden Religion” will broadcast a critical film portrait of Joseph Ratzinger on Sunday. Director Christophe Roll makes it into a hierarchical church film of Pope Benedict XVI. Responsible for concealing abuse. The picture is already online.

Joseph Lederley *

Many recent pope films use the pope’s form as an almost archetypal form, however, it remains unquestioned. On the other hand, Christophe Roll’s documentary “Defender of Faith” strikes a different tone, critically evaluating the pontificate and theology of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Grapples.

Warning sounds were systematically avoided

In particular, the film finds Ratzinger dealing with the sexual abuse of clergy and religious leaders, for which he has been responsible for more than three decades, returning to a hierarchical, “successful” image of the church: to preserve “holiness” and reputation. The precautionary voices calling for an inquiry into the institution’s relationship between abuse and priestly narcissism, according to the film, were systematically silenced and sidelined.

The cardinals in the movie “Guardians of the Faith”

The biography of Joseph Ratzinger is central to the character’s own biography of the “Defender of the Faith” who finds central traits with respect and sympathy. As a teacher at the Odenwald School of Reform Education, he experienced first-hand the mechanisms for knowing and looking at other avenues. In the Odenwald films “And Not Only Us” (2010) and “The Elect” (2013), the filmmaker analyzes how those involved defend themselves against criticism and how all evil is projected out.

The church is not criticized

Following the controversy over the misuse of the Canisius College in Berlin, the Catholic Church later came to be regarded as a echo chamber that was structurally connected but more socially effective. Notably, the “guardian of the faith” does not end with Benedict’s resignation, but ends with his successor’s voyage to Ireland, where state inquiries uncovered horrific abuses, double standards and cover-ups.

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However, the “guardian of the faith” does not criticize the church. Instead, the film provides an analysis of why a theology professor who was initially considered a progressive has become an arch-conservative censor who seems primarily committed to certain principles but has little understanding of the needs and contradictions of the present.

The cinematic review shows that “the first German pope could not reform or desire the Church,” the SRF writes in its proclamation. You can already watch the movie – Online on the SRF website. (Supplied with kna / rp)

* The author is an employee of the film portal This is a summary of his contribution published in in December 2020:

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