Behind the Vatican walls, Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.

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Discussion Questions

  1. Screenwriter Anthony McCarten admits that most of the film is literary fiction (although thoroughly based in research). What do you think he was trying to accomplish in this movie?
  2. It’s been said the RC church is the world’s largest non-governmental bureaucracy. A two-person dialogue in a garden creatively side-steps this fact and others about the institution. Does what is missing from the movie detract from its meaning? Why?
  3. Did the movie change your attitude toward either pope? Why or why not?
  4. Benedict and Bergoglio are radically different in character and perspective. But what unites them?
  5. Pope Francis has been criticized for not fully apologizing for what Indigenous families experienced in Canadian residential schools. Pope Benedict was criticized for not going far enough to address the sexual abuses that occurred during his watch. What would a meaningful response from either pope look like? 
  6. Which theological statement or argument in the movie is most memorable? Why?
  7. The movie explores the tension between tradition and innovation which plagues the Catholic church, and all institutions. How can we approach change without becoming unmoored?
  8. Which theological or spiritual debate has gripped you recently?

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