U.S. box office knows bad films do not pay Two hundred priests and lay men from 26 countries attended the Cologne conference of the International Catholic Film Office, where Mgr. Montini's letter, expressing the attitude of the Holy See, was read, as reported last week in Tun CATHOLIC HERALD.
Most European countries, the U.S.A., Canada and Latin America were represented. Fr. J. A. V. Burke came from the Catholic Film Institute in England, and Scotland sent Sir John Ogilvie-Forbes. Bishop Leiprecht of Rottenburg, Film Consultant to the Episcopal Conference of Fulda, presided in place of Cardinal Frings, who was in England for the St. Boniface celebrations at Plymouth.
The main theme of the discussions, writes our special correspondent, was the moral classification of films, which, as Mgr. Montini wrote, should contribute towards educating the judgment of Christians, and calls for "a national Catholic motion picture office" in each country.
Much to do
Fr. Charles Reinert, S.J., Director of the Catholic Film Centre of Switzerland, said that this matter is vitally important, but also exceedingly difficult. Although Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Vigilanti cure of 1936, said that the Bishops of each country were to "set up a permanent national reviewing office," there still remain countries where this has not been done.
Even in countries where films are classified by Catholic bodies, adequate steps have not been taken to "tell the people plainly which films are permitted to all, which are permitted with reservations, and which are harmful and positively bad." The Catholic Film Centres of all countries have much work to do in ensuring that the Papal directives are put into practice. Until they succeed in so doing, there will continue to be great harm to souls, Fr. Burke's paper synthesised all the authoritative teaching about films deriving from Canon Law, Papal Encyclicals, Briefs and Allocutions; and Fr. Gemelli, Rector of Milan University, expounded the psychological and theological principles for moral classification of films. with a view to the formulation of criteria of judgment and the devising of methods for their practical application.
The American Hierarchy's crusade for the moral improvement of motion pictures has proved to the box office that bad films do not pay, said Mr. Little, President of the American League of Decency. Three-quarters of the world's films are made in America, and the defeat of the indecency of the early days is the result of a joint effort of Bishops and militant laity, touched off by a warning given by the Apostolic Delegate in New York 20 years ago, when the growing Hollywood industry was becoming a serious danger to morality.
'The aim of American pictures, he said, should he the reflection of a way of life which showed man as responsible to God, and which should emphasise the dignity of the human personality. "May our motion picture Industry make us brothers in Christ," he concluded.
The Munich representative said that in his diocese roughly eight to 12 films were discussed by the local Catholic film committee every Monday morning and accepted or rejected for announcement in the church papers at the end of the week.
In the diocese of Cologne, the times and places of snitable cinema entertainment are posted at the church doors.