The Forbidden Call 2022
Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by AnaMichele Morejon
Directed by AnaMichele Morejon
Streaming, 7 mins
Roman Catholicism; Women Religious Leaders
Date Entered: 03/28/2023Reviewed by Elena Landry, George Mason Libraries, Fairfax, VA
After 30 years in her local parish, Diane Smith Whalen made the wrenching decision to answer a deep calling and join a very small but increasingly important number of women who have become ordained priests in the Roman Catholic Church. They have all been automatically excommunicated by the Vatican for having committed this serious crime under canon law, meaning they are unable to receive the sacraments, including Holy Communion, confession, or have a church funeral. Theirs is part of the large struggle of the Catholic faithful to remain and serve in a church so ridden with controversy and scandal.
Whalen states at one point in the film that former Catholics represent the second largest religious group in the country. Certainly, legions of U.S. Catholics have left the church at some point during their lives, citing differences with the Vatican’s positions on issues including abortion, birth control, homosexuality, and the ordination of women into the priesthood.
Perhaps the most problematic issue for the survival of the institutional leadership is the history of pedophile priests, and all the associated denial and lack of reform. Yet the Vatican remains adamant on the issue that woman not be ordained, although it may well be their best prayer for institutional survival. Claiming thousands of years of tradition going back to Jesus Christ himself, who chose men as disciples, who then in turn chose other men as disciples, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has always excluded women from ordination into the priesthood, and Pope Francis has definitively stated, citing Pope John Paul II, “This door is closed.” Hopefully, messages like Morejon’s will hasten the opening of that door.
My only objection to this film is its’ brevity. Regardless of one’s religious faith, or lack thereof, Whalen’s story is an inspirational one of great courage. Her description of her wrenching decision to contradict a lifetime of indoctrination and risk the ostracism from her faith community due to her rebellious ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood is certainly compelling enough to warrant a more expansive treatment. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this very short documentary to anyone interested in faith and spiritual examination.
Awards:Finalist, KCET's Fine Cut Festival of Films; Honorable Mention, SPLICE Film Fest; Semi-Finalist, On Screen Film Festival
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