The director of 'Goodfellas' and 'Taxi Driver' told the pope that growing up he had spent "a lot of time" in St. Patrick's old cathedral in New York.
The 2018 Synod on Young People, The Faith, and Vocational Discernment is nearing its end, but the conversations continue to seek guidance on how to better engage young Catholics in their faith.
During a forum with Pope Francis, Martin Scorsese, director of Goodfellas and Taxi Driver, took the podium to ask Pope Francis how to inspire people in a “world marked by evil.”
Scorsese began with a reflection on his own youth and how times have changed:
“Holy Father, I’ve been making movies for a long time now, but I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in downtown New York,” He said. “There’s a church there, Saint Patrick’s old cathedral and it’s still there. It’s the first Catholic cathedral in New York and I spent a lot of time in that church, but outside the church, things were very different. There was poverty and violence.”
“I experienced that there was a truth in the street and that there was a truth presented to us in the Church and that they weren’t or didn’t seem to be the same and it was very, very, very difficult to put the two of them together, to reconcile the two worlds. Jesus’s love seemed something that was completely apart, or like foreign, alien often to what I was seeing on the street. True, I was fortunate to have good, loving parents and an extraordinary young priest who became kind of a mentor for myself and others during those formative years.”
He compared the world of his childhood with today’s social climate, which he called a “world marked by evil”, before asking the Pontiff what can be done to help the Church.
“However, even today, when we look around at newspapers and television, it seems that the world is marked by evil. We also see the painful human failings of the institution of the Church itself. How can we elderly people strengthen and guide the young in what they have to go through yet in life. How, Holy Father, can the faith of a young woman or man survive in this maelstrom? How can we help the Church in this endeavor?”
Pope Francis took a moment to consider Scorsese’s question before advising him to promote the “wisdom of weeping”.
“Here there is a word that we must speak: the wisdom of weeping,” said Pope Francis. “The gift of crying. Before this violence, this cruelty, this destruction of human dignity. Weeping is Human and Christian. Because crying softens the heart, it opens the heart and is a source of inspiration. Cry. “Jesus, in his most heart-felt moments of his life, wept. When he saw the failure of his people, he cried over Jerusalem. “Empathy, closeness, non-violence, tenderness, all human virtues that seem small but are capable of putting an end to the most violent of events.”
The Academy Award winning director has been at odds with the church before –he has been married five times – but he says his faith was a significant factor during his formative years.
In 2016, Scorsese wrote, directed, and produced the film, Silence, which told the story of two 17th-century Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Edo-era Japan via Macau to locate their missing mentor and spread Catholic Christianity. Although the film is based on a fictional novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo, many of the events and people depicted in “Silence” are real.
The film was well received by critics, and was described as an “emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director’s finest works.”