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Glowing self-portrait of a disillusioned man

In Bob We Trust (Documentary): Featuring Fr Bob Maguire, John Safran. Directed by Lynn-Maree Milburn.
Written by Lynn-Maree Milburn. 142 minutes. Rated PG.

Reviewed by Emilie Ng

UNUSUAL theology has never thrust its head so violently as in the anticipated movie of the so-called David and Goliath story between Catholic Church hierarchy and retired South Melbourne priest and mainstream celebrity, Fr Bob Maguire.

Has there ever been Christian film that makes your ears bleed so badly, you feel the need to confess condoning unholy behaviours?

And that’s just the first few minutes of In Bob We Trust.

In Bob We Trust follows the battle to keep “dissident priest” – the DVD’s description – as parish priest of Saints Peter and Paul, South Melbourne.

One critic said it was “the most spiritually uplifting film since Life of Brian”.

For the spiritually advanced, In Bob We Trust is more of a prolonged stab to the soul.

A quick glance at the cover and the back blurb describes a movie that will posit protagonist Fr Bob as the alleged victim of the antagonists, “the clericalists” in the Holy See and Melbourne.

In Bob We TrustWhy would a man who chooses to take on the identity as a Catholic priest be so determined to distance himself from the Body of Christ?

The end of the movie gives the answer.

There is a fundamental problem with Fr Bob’s grasping of Jesus Christ’s two natures, His divinity and His humanity.

In the last 10 minutes Fr Bob receives a question from his radio co-host John Safran, who is dressed as the angel of death.

Safran asks Fr Bob if he thinks he will get to Heaven.

Fr Bob gives some off-handed response that suggests he believes Heaven does not exist.

Rather, Heaven is Earth.

There’s no journey because Heaven is not a destination; it is simply our lived existence.

It’s unquestionable that throughout his priestly life Fr Bob has changed the lives of countless people, some of whom feature in this film – sadly one, a person with schizophrenia, dies during the making of the film.

Fr Bob’s undoubtedly received the spiritual charism of hospitality and mercy.

But the film positions him as the only hope the Catholic Church has of living up to the basic principle of Catholic social teaching, the preferential option for the poor.

Thousands of mouths have been fed, hundreds of youth have found shelter, many imprisoned have found peace, all because of Fr Bob.

The question is, has he left Christ with the poor, or just a disillusioned picture of the Catholic Church, attached to a glowing self-portrait of a man who loves irreverence, disobedience, and independence from the Church, rather than to build the Body?

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