True Confessions, by Francis X. Maier

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By Francis X. Maier, The Catholic Thing, April 28, 2022

Francis X. Maier is a senior fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the 2020-22 senior research associate at the Notre Dame Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government.

Francis X. Maier“I hated that movie.”  So said a priest friend some years ago when I mentioned the film True Confessions. Looking back, I’m not surprised.  Released in 1981 and based on the John Gregory Dunne crime novel of the same name, it’s not a happy portrait of the Church, her people, or her clergy.  Yet, in the end, it always moves me.  It’s one of my favorite – and I would argue, profoundly Catholic – films.  Given the controversies these days over what is and is not a good Catholic film, let me explain why.

True Confessions begins and ends in the 1960s California desert.  But the bulk of the story takes place in 1947 Los Angeles.  It revolves around the Black Dahlia-like murder of a young woman, a failed actress turned prostitute. …

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