Catholic magazine gives five-star review of ‘gay grooming’ film

The Catholic magazine's editor was forced to see the film after it received complaints for running a glowing review. Source: Pexels

A Melbourne Catholic magazine is currently in panic mode after publishing a five-star review of one of the year’s biggest queer films.

Call Me by Your Name, which has generated Oscar buzz and been praised by film critics around the world, tells the tale of a gay love affair between an older man and a 17-year-old boy. While same-sex relationships have become a welcomed part of mainstream society, the film was set in 1983 when homosexuality wasn’t always deemed acceptable. One of the underlying themes in the film is that of an older character seemingly grooming a teenage boy for sex. 

According to The Australian, Melbourne Catholic gave the movie a 10 out of 10 rating. The review, by film critic Peter Krausz, appears in the latest edition of the magazine. Many have pointed out that the review doesn’t mention that one of the men involved in the relationship is a minor. It comes after the Catholic church faced criticism in the recent Royal Commission into child sex abuse.

Shane Healy, the Director of Media and Communications for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, told The Australian he saw the film after the magazine received a number of complaints for publishing the review. Healy has final say on what is run in the magazine and claims he wasn’t aware of the film’s controversy when the magazine went to print. 

He acknowledged that after seeing Call Me by Your Name, he wouldn’t have run the review. “You can certainly argue that there was some grooming going on,” he told The Australian. “Hindsight is a great thing, but had I known the details I would have said ‘I don’t think that is appropriate in a Catholic magazine’.”

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The magazine is set to run a follow-up article in a future edition, although Healy stands by the original review that was published. He argued that despite the backlash, the film deserved the 10 stars it was given due to the quality.

He did note, however, that stricter guidelines would be put in place for future film reviews. This would ensure that anything included in the magazine was in line with the teachings of the church.

The review could be a sign of the shifting attitude towards gay culture in the media, with beloved Australian soap Home and Away set to welcome its first full-time gay character after 30 years on air. While details surrounding the character are tightly under wrap, but it’s believed they will be introduced to viewers within a few months.

It comes years after rival soap Neighbours introduced a number of LGBT characters in its line-up. At present, there are at least five gay characters on the show, while many other films and programs have slowly been including queer characters over the years. 

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What do you think? Should religious magazines still be allowed to give risqué films glowing reviews, or is it completely out of line?

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