Monday, February 18, 2008

Bless us Father Duddleswell!

Every now and then to entertain ourselves a few of us at the seminary go through a period of watching a television series on DVD, last term a Seminarian obtained the Region 1 version of Heroes as we got fed up of having to wait a whole week to see the next episode. We managed to watch the entire season before it finished on BBC2.

The same Seminarian came back from Half Term with the first series of 'Bless me Father' having bought it on Amazon after seeing a reference to it on another blog. We sat and watched a few episodes after supper last night. Its really very good, very well researched and not at all anti-Catholic. No one would get away with making such a programme today.

The irony of it is that it was made and shown in the late 70's but set in the 50's so it would have attracted a large Anglo-Catholic audience despite its many anti-Anglican references but I doubt it would have had many Catholic fans as they were all too busy setting up the new Spirit of Vatican II Church!

We highly recommend it to anyone and can't waith for the next session!


Anonymous said...

Mmm ... I'm in two minds about Fr D and the Bless Me Father series. At one level, they're a very amusing portrait of parish life in the 1950s, but the books on which the TV series was based were written by Peter de Rosa, a laicised priest with an axe to grind, who subsequently went on to write a number of sensationalist (and instantly forgettable) books about scandals in the Papacy, priesthood etc. It may be me, but I get the impression that in the BMF series, de Rosa ispresenting a caricature of the pre-conciliar church as part of his anti-clerical agenda.

But I wasn't around in the 1950s, so I don't know whether this is true or not!

Lee said...

I haven't read the books but have seen all three seasons of Bless Me Father. My own sense is that they present an amusing and warm picture.

Of course, such a programme is bound to include a huge amount of caricature. I doubt that anyone thinks of them as a documentary snapshot of Catholic life in the 1950s.

We don't know whether Peter de Rosa had a particular agenda in mind when writing the books and screenplays (the same is true of any author!)

It seems to me that while the characters are very amusing the treatment of the faith is always deeply sensitive.

I only have slight reservations about two episodes (both in the final season):

In one, Fr D espouses the idea of an "empty hell" (familiar to us from von Balthasar). While this may be a permissible position, I'm not at all convinced and think that espousing it vocally could have dangerous pastoral implications.

The second concern is about an episode involving a proposed marriage between a Jewish man and a Catholic girl. The episode presents the difficulties of the situation very sensitively but then, disappointingly, ends by virtually endorsing an (invalid!) registry office ceremony.

So... if you keep your critical faculties about you while watching, I think that the programmes can be enjoyed happily.

Padre C said...

As an Anglo Catholic, I read all the books before the TV series was made. I was never bothered by the recurring Anglican characters (the Vicar and Curate) because they represent the common enemy of both Anglo Catholics and RC's.

In the 1950's these time serving Church of England hacks were beginning to water down the faith so as to bring about a bogus Book of Common Prayer and the fruitless farce of "women's ordination", which directly resulted in today's meltdown.

Alas, the same wolves in the Roman Church were busy promoting the valid but banal New Mass while discouraging auricular confession.

As we say, when Rome sneezes, Anglo Catholics catch cold.