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'The Order' examines Catholic Church

Published (Volume 76, No. 30)

Credit: Courtesy of romantic.about.com
Credit: Courtesy of romantic.about.com

The Student Activities Council presented ‘The Order’ this past Wednesday for a movie night held in the UC.  Although not a lot of students take advantage of this weekly SAC sponsored event, the few who came on April 21 got a lot of free entertainment. 

In this movie, a Catholic priest becomes entangled in a web of occult rituals and intrigue. 

Director Brian Helgeland’s film is full of theological distortions and stereotypes, targeted at painting the church and its clergy as corrupt and faithless.

The plot revolves around “sin eating,” a fatal rite by which initiates claimed they could absolve the dying of their wrong-doings by placing bread and salt on their body and literally consuming their transgressions, along with the knowledge of their sinful acts.

The order is a tiny group of priests who adhere to arcane Catholicism, which means they believe in stigmata, exorcism and “sin eating.” 

When a member of the sect is killed in Rome, the church claims his death is a suicide, which denies him a Christian burial. 

The death falls to a pair of younger priests, Alex (Heath Ledger) and William (Benno Furmann) to investigate.

They discover Thomas, an attractive “sin eater” (Mark Addy), a man whose morality dates to the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica. 

Bitter at the church for excommunicating his brother and denying him last rites, Thomas has become an angel of sorts for the church’s outcasts. He ingests the sins of the church’s excommunicates and grants them absolution. 

This, of course, is not without it’s drawbacks.  Not only must Thomas live for centuries; he must also carry the burden of untold sins.  It’s become a heavy load, and he’s ready to pass the torch to another young and hunky rebel priest.

With talk of priestly sex, excommunication and suicide, ‘The Order’ is likely to make more than a few people nervous, especially at a time when the Catholic Church is hardly eager to be played up in a Hollywood movie.