PETA’s latest ad features a Catholic Church, a priest, a lady with lace on her head, and a confessional. These things are Catholic — but the ad isn’t.
Here it is …
The ad was originally submitted to run during Sunday’s Super Bowl, but PETA instead chose the less-expensive route of releasing it online.
Modern mass media doesn’t care much for Church teaching, but all sorts of visual storytellers — whether in movies, TV or advertising — love to use our symbols and rituals for their own purposes. Playing the priest is actor James Cromwell, a vegan and animal-rights activist. He’s a fine actor and has played a priest before, most recently in HBO’s “The Young Pope” — which, for all its fanciful elements, got Catholicism more than this ad.
The crux of the story being told is that the priest refuses to absolve the penitent after he confesses about how he runs his meat-production business, because the priest considers his sins to be unforgivable.
In Catholic teaching, the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is not what we’re dealing with here. But PETA is interested in making a point, not about treating our sacrament with accuracy and respect.
For another perspective, I turned to Patrick Novecosky, a fellow Catholic journalist and communicator, who’s president of NovaMedia.
Here’s what he had to say:
Wow. Well, first of all it’s brilliantly written. But brilliantly flawed. Brilliantly anti-Catholic. Even if the man’s confession was entirely true, the priest’s sin is worse than his. To treat a penitent man with such disdain is reprehensible.