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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Valentine's Day

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Director Garry Marshall's ensemble romantic comedy "Valentine's Day" (New Line)—though chockablock with talented stars—is as unengaging as it is unwieldy. Worse, as penned by Katherine Fugate, this tale of loves lost and found, while rejecting marital infidelity, otherwise takes the full physical expression of affection as a given, before marriage, before college and between members of the same gender.

The script charts the amorous ups and downs of a series of interconnected Los Angelenos over the titular holiday, beginning with the early-morning proposal of starry-eyed florist Reed (Ashton Kutcher) to his work-obsessed girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba). Since the pair already lives together, Reed only has to go around the foot of the bed to pop the question.

Reed's best friend is elementary school teacher Julia (Jennifer Garner), who wakes up beside her newfound beau, cardiologist Harrison (Patrick Dempsey). He's off on a trip to San Francisco that will prevent him from taking Julia to dinner on the most sentimentally significant night of the year, so we immediately sense there's something wrong, even if Julia doesn't.

Edison (Bryce Robinson), one of Julia's fifth-graders, lives with his grandparents Estelle and Edgar (Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo), who are preparing to renew their vows after more than 50 years of marriage. But former screen ingenue Estelle has a long pent-up secret that could derail their return to the altar.

Edison's 18-year-old baby-sitter Grace (Emma Roberts) plans to spend the afternoon consummating her relationship with high school classmate, boyfriend and fellow virgin Alex (Carter Jenkins). Though Grace eventually has second thoughts, her reasons for delay are as irresponsible as Alex's unabashed longing for immediate gratification.

Other plotlines involve Jamie Foxx as a sportswriter, Eric Dane as pro football player with a clouded future, Queen Latifah as the athlete's no-nonsense agent, and Anne Hathaway as a secretary at the agent's office who moonlights as a sex phone worker. And that's not to mention Julia Roberts as a furloughed army Captain.

While, as the Bard assures us, "The course of true love never did run smooth," here, neither does the course of shacking up, talking dirty for extra pay or bedding down—as Hathaway's character also does—with someone you've been dating for all of two weeks.

The film contains implicit approval of nonmarital sexual activity and homosexual acts, partial nudity, adultery and phone-sex themes, sexual references and jokes, brief irreverent humor and a half-dozen crude and some crass terms

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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