Cardinals attack pope, homosexual ‘plague’


This 14 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Dioceses of Pennsylvania | Grand Jury Report on Catholic Church Priest Abuse Released

Pennsylvania officials have released a landmark grand jury report that identifies more than 300 “predator priests” who molested children in six dioceses. It also accuses church leaders of taking steps to cover up the abuse. The report emerged from one of the nation’s most exhaustive investigations of clergy sexual abuse. The report echoes the findings of many earlier church investigations around the country in its description of widespread sexual abuse by clergy and church officials’ concealment of it.

Read more here and here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Cardinals duo on the eve of the abuse summit: homosexuality is the problem

Two prominent cardinals have fiercely criticized the Vatican and the pope in an open letter. The sexual abuse within the church, according to them, is because “the plague” of homosexuality increasingly determines the agenda within the Vatican.

According to the two ultra-conservative cardinals, the US American Raymond Burke and the German Walter Brandmüller, the pope wrongly proclaims that the abuse originates in clericalism, the way some members of the clergy place themselves as a superior group above the law.

The criticism comes on the eve of a big bishops’ meeting in the Vatican, which will begin tomorrow. There, at the request of Pope Francis, some 140 bishops from all over the world will come together to discuss the problem of child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. On Sunday, Francis will close the meeting with a speech.

NOS Vatican correspondent Andrea Vreede says that according to Burke and Brandmüller the church is in a deep moral crisis and that the homosexuals in the church are mainly responsible for this. …

No, Your Eminence Burke and Your Eminence Brandmüller: not ‘the homosexuals in the church’ are the problem. It is the closet gay homophobes in the church, jointly with the heterosexual homophobes.

Burke and Brandmüller argue that the church has become rudderless because it does mot follow the right teaching. In 2016, together with two other cardinals, they fiercely criticized the pope for creating an opportunity for divorced Catholics who have remarried before the law to go to communion anyway.

From the BBC today:

Cardinal Burke has links to former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, who will reportedly be in Rome during the summit.

Something strange is happening here. Under conservative predecessors of the present Pope Francis I, right-wingers like Burke, Brandmülller and Dutch cardinal Eijk used to say again and again: the Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy, but a hierarchy. The pope represents God on earth and has absolute power. Roma locuta, causa finita: once the great pontiff in Rome has spoken about some issue, then Roman Catholics lower in the pecking order should not dare to have views different from the pope’s. If there is any danger to the unity of the church, then it is 100% the fault of rank and file left-wingers; never ever of the right-wing pope.

However, now, presto! they suddenly attack Pope Francis

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Clerical sexual abuse survivor disappointed in church


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Marie Collins calls for 7 actions at Vatican Abuse Summit

Ahead of the Abuse Summit in Rome in February 2019 with Pope Francis and the Heads of Bishops’ Conferences, Marie Collins speaking at the We Are Church Ireland meeting (14 January 2019) called on Pope Francis to seek agreement for a policy of zero tolerance and full transparency on clerical sex abuse and universal safeguarding of children throughout the Catholic Church.

1) Agree a clear definition of what constitutes sexual abuse of a minor

2) Agree on a clear definition of the term “zero tolerance”

3) Canon Law should be updated to reflect this

4) Canon Law on the abuse of vulnerable adults needs to be separated from the abuse of minors

5) Universal safeguarding measures and a transparent accountability policy for dealing justly with reports of abuse should be agreed

6) The Pope should make a clear statement at this meeting outlining what is the accountability process being used to hold bishops accountable

7) The Pope needs at this meeting to name those bishops who have a guilty finding against them, what was the offence and what was the penalty

Translated from Dutch [historical Roman Catholic] daily De Volkskrant, 15 February 2019:

Marie Collins vs. The Vatican

Abuse victim Marie Collins left the Pope’s committee frustrated: ‘I am very disappointed’

Marie Collins was abused by a priest in her youth. The pope asked her for a committee to make proposals to prevent abuse. She has resigned from it, disillusioned with what the Catholic Church is willing to do.

By Jarl van der Ploeg

If there is one person who knows why the four-day conference about abuse in the Vatican of next Thursday is doomed to fail, then it is Marie Collins. After all, it was Marie Collins who was asked by Pope Francis five years ago to join the oh-so-important Committee for the Protection of Minors, and it was Marie Collins who three years later resigned from that same committee out of pure frustration.

‘I am very disappointed in this pope’, says Collins (70). “While he started pretty well.”

Indeed, for a long time, Jorge Bergoglio, who has gone through life as Pope Francis since 2013, was known as an unprecedentedly progressive church leader who went to battle against the money wastage of some cardinals, stood up for homeless people and boat migrants and who during his first press conference on homosexuals said: ‘Who am I to judge about that?’

It brought the Argentinean jubilant commentaries, especially because he seemed to be – and this was really a giant breakthrough – tackling the global abuse scandal; the biggest crisis of the Catholic Church since the Reformation. While Pope John Paul II called all accusations “violent attacks on the respectability” of the church and Pope Benedict XVI mainly dealt with it with silence and idleness, Francis promised a “zero tolerance policy” when he was appointed in 2013.

It had to be finally finished with all sins and crimes, all negligence and complicity, he repeated time after time. The age-old principle within the church – how can we limit reputation damage as much as possible? – seemed to be finally replaced by him by: how can we alleviate the suffering of the victims?

One of his most important achievements was an expert committee to help prevent future abuse: the Commission for the Protection of Minors. Completely contrary to the prevailing mores within the Vatican, he mainly asked lay people to sit on that committee. No priests, bishops or cardinals, but ordinary citizens without clerical collars. Eg, a child psychiatrist from France, an international lawyer from Poland, a criminologist, a theologian, a church lawyer. And Marie Collins.

Why Marie Collins? Because Collins devoted her life to combating child abuse. The germ was laid when she was 12 or 13 years old and she was admitted to a Catholic children’s hospital in Dublin for three weeks because of an infection on her arm. She was abused there several times by the hospital’s chaplain, Paul McGennis.

“You know how these men work,” says Collins in her small, gray house in an equally gray suburb of Dublin. Because of everything that happened since those three weeks, she never succeeded in building a career and earning a lot of money. In her room there are two leather chairs and a couch, and that’s about it.

Extra attention

“The chaplain took me in, gave me extra attention-I was his special girlfriend,” he said-and in the evening he came to read to me. At those moments he abused me and also made photographs of it. I remember trying to stop him, but he said, “I am a priest, so I can not do anything wrong, can I?” You must understand that I was a child of the nineteen fifties; I had been taught that a priest was almost above God, he was so important. You could never ever contradict a priest. And now suddenly there was a priest who said to me, “If you do not like this, then there is something wrong with you. Then you are not normal. “He said that to me.”

The three weeks at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children ended Collins’ youth. “Before that, I was a confident, popular child. After that, I knew for sure that I was actually a bad person. I tried to do everything I could to keep that character hidden. I did not play outside anymore, kept all my friends at a distance and alienated myself from my family. I was afraid that if someone came too close, something bad would happen and that would be my fault. ”

From her 17th year on she got panic attacks. Around the age of 20 she got her first depression and from the age of 27 she developed a violent form of agoraphobia. “I have been at home for years – in this house where we are now. Together with my husband Ray I had a son aged 6 and because I did not dare, Ray was both his father and his mother. During the day Ray worked, in the evening he bought groceries, in the morning he brought our little fellow to school and I did not do anything that time. When Ray came home in the evening, I would still be in the same chair as I was in that morning and the dirty dishes in the kitchen would be untouched.”

Collins at that time had no idea that it was the fault of chaplain McGennis; she had tucked away the entire children’s hospital abuse and never thought about it. It was not until she came to a psychotherapist again after a series of new panic attacks that she spoke about the chaplain for the first time in her life, twenty-five years after the abuse. Encouraged by the psychotherapist, who said that McGennis might still be active, she went to her church to report it. The answer from her local priest: “You probably seduced the poor man. But do not worry, your sins are forgiven.”

“That answer”, says Collins, “felt like someone threw a stone through a window, but then inside my body. Everything fell apart into small pieces. Those words broke me completely. They threw me back in time years. I did not want to go back to the psychotherapist under any circumstances and I did not talk to anyone about McGennis for ten years. Not a word.”

The psychological complaints also increased again for Collins, who had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals ten times since her abuse. It was not until McGennis, forty years after abusing Collins – forty years in which he also made a career within the Church and in the meantime continued to rape and photograph young children – was arrested and imprisoned, only then did the depressions and the panic attacks stop.

Marie Collins foundation

Collins decided to dedicate the rest of her life to combating child abuse within the church. She founded the Marie Collins Foundation for children who, like her, were victims of child pornography. She contributed to new child protection protocols within the Irish Church – one of the most stringent protocols in the Catholic world – and the so-called Murphy Report, an in-depth investigation into sexual abuse within the Irish Roman Catholic Church, praised her ‘courageous, and often lonely campaign’ against the Archdiocese of Dublin. When Pope Francis took office in 2013, he asked Collins to come to Rome to help him. She said yes because she, like everyone else, hoped that a fresh wind would finally blow through the Vatican.

“But during our first meeting in Rome I noticed that something was wrong,” says Collins. ‘We were in a back room in Vatican City where not even a glass of water was present. There was not even a piece of paper on the table.”

The Commission for the Protection of Minors in Rome had been promised that the Vatican would not save any effort to do their job, “but every time we asked for money to get something realized, the answer was: no, too expensive, no, too expensive, no, too expensive‘.

‘Eg, we could only meet three times a year because the tickets to Rome were too expensive. In Rome we often slept in places that were far from the Vatican. But we were not allowed to use the official cars – which were intended for cardinals – and we were not allowed to declare money spent on taxis. We also had to pay for our own coffee, our own lunch, our own dinner. And when we asked for a small amount of pocket money, only for members who barely had money – we did our work for free and I, eg, did not have any income at that time, – the answer was: no, too expensive.” How much money exactly does the church manage? It is unclear. According to estimates, the Vatican alone – that is, excluding dioceses elsewhere in the world – has at least 10 billion euros to spend.

No respect from the curia

It was a pure lack of respect, says Collins. Not so much from the pope – who did not interfere with the committee at that level – but from the curia. That is the pope’s court of clergymen who have lived in Rome for a lifetime and therefore have a certain view of the world, says Collins. “Those men live in a bubble. They do not look outside, they just look inside. They are career hunters who want to get up as quickly as possible and therefore only work for themselves. They do not think about the children. They do not even think of the image of their own institute.”

And suddenly there was Mrs. Marie Collins who told these men how to behave in future. “I unfortunately know what these men think, because I’ve been through it for years. They sincerely believe that you only understand something of life when you are part of the church. That is why they will never accept anything from an outsider, even if it is the greatest expert on earth. They only believe in their own way of doing things and refuse to see that it has caused an immense mess. You do not want to know how many times I have explained to these people that they’re destroying their own church, but they just did not take it from me. You and I live in the real world, so we see how absurd it is, but those men literally live in a different world.”

That is why the committee not only encountered practical bullying, such as the lack of writing paper in their meeting room, but also substantive obstacles were raised. “It was so terribly frustrating,” says Collins. “Everything we did turned out to be totally useless. They put the best experts in the world around a table and then ignore all their advice.’

For example, the committee argued for the establishment of a tribunal that could punish bishops who had failed to take action against the abuse of others – an important first step in ending the cover-up culture. The Pope was full of praise for the proposal, he accepted it, then it landed in a drawer and nothing ever happened to it.

Another example: abuse victims often send letters to the pope, for example to ask what happened to a pedophile priest, or to tell their side of the story, often on the advice of their psychiatrist. It was the policy of the curia not to answer those letters. Collins proposed to adjust that policy and in future send a standard answer – she knew how important such a small gesture can be for victims. “The pope again thought it was a good idea and accepted it,” says Collins, “but a little later the curia told us that they would not do it anyway. They said that it would be disrespect to local bishops to correspond behind their backs with lay persons.”

It was ultimately a reason for Collins to resign from the committee. She found her work useless and the opposition by the curia unacceptable. That whole committee was a sham in her eyes. This was apparent, for example, when another member, the abuse victim Peter Saunders, was suspended after he had criticized publicly and when other experts were gradually replaced by priests and nuns.

Not a bad man

Francis himself is not a bad man,” says Collins. ‘He is very modest, has no fancy airs and does not think himself better than others. He is not condescending, never gives you pats on your shoulder and does not say consoling words because he thinks you want to hear them. He especially listens. Again, he is not a bad man. But if you are at the head of the church – a group of people so disgusted with change – that attitude is too weak.’

Francis is indeed not a hierarchical pope. Not at all. He refuses to stand at the head of an omnipotent institution that determines from Rome how the church should behave in, eg, Madagascar. Francis wants local churches to flourish from the bottom up and will therefore not force them to apply a particular measure. There is something to be said for that, says Collins, but it also has adverse consequences. His power in Vatican City is thus very limited, she says. And above all, he is not the right pope to stop the abuse crisis. Francis will never tell a Polish or Italian bishop how to prosecute their priests.

P.S. According to my statistics, there have been several clicks on this blog post from Vatican City. One should hope that will contribute to meaningful pro-abuse survivor reforms.

‘Vatican priests, 80% closet gays’


This 13 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Eighty per cent of Vatican priests are gay and living in the closet, according to an explosive new book to be published next week.

The 570-page expose, titled In the Closet of the Vatican, claims that four in five clerics in the Roman Catholic Church are homosexuals – but aren’t necessarily sexually active.

French sociologist and journalist Frédéric Martel, who spent four years conducting 1,500 interviews for the book, found that some priests maintained discreet long term relationships, while others lived double lives having casual sex with gay partners and using male prostitutes.

He found that a number of clerics spoke of an unspoken code of the ‘closet’, with one rule of thumb being that the more homophobic they were, the more likely they were gay.

The author, a former adviser to the French government, claims the late Alfonso López Trujillo – a Colombian cardinal who held senior roles in the Vatican – was an arch-defender of the church’s teaching on homosexuality and contraception while using male prostitutes, according to Catholic website the Tablet.

The book is a ‘startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican‘, according to British publisher Bloomsbury. In its marketing material, Bloomsbury claims the book ‘reveals secrets’ about celibacy, misogyny and plots against Pope Francis.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 15 February 2019:

A majority of cardinals and many bishops and other church leaders are homosexual. This is the conclusion of sociologist Frédéric Martel, who immersed himself four years in the world of the Vatican. According to an initiate to whom Martel spoke, in the Vatican it would even be about 80 percent of the clergy.

Martel, who himself is also gay, does not aim to blame people who do not want to come out of the closet. He does want to expose a system: according to him, the Catholic Church has a hidden face that is based on a double life: on the outside radically homophobic, in reality homosexual. “I do not want to out individuals, I want to out the Vatican”, Martel says to Dutch Nieuwsuur TV.

Hide nature

He emphasizes that homosexuality is not the problem. The situation is complex. “What you want most as a homosexual cleric is to hide your nature, to show everyone you’re not gay, so you’re more homophobic than others.”

And that, according to Martel, worsens other issues, such as the AIDS problem. Martel explains: “As a clergyman you want to show that you are more celibate than others, so you become extremely rigid in propagating a sexual morality, which is why you are also against condoms, because they represent sex with a partner which is not fixed.”

Martel’s voluminous book Sodoma [In the Closet of the Vatican] of 670 pages will appear Monday in the Netherlands and other countries. He did research in more than 30 countries and spoke 1500 people, inside and outside the Vatican, including 41 cardinals, 52 bishops, 45 nuncios and more than 200 priests and seminarians.

The vast majority of all clergy in the Vatican is gay, practicing or not. And according to the author, that also applies to the four predecessors of the current Pope, Francis.

Martel also says that many homosexual clergy in Rome lead a double life with secret relationships. Some have a permanent partner, others hire escort boys. A minority of these clergy lives strictly celibate. Another conclusion: because of the culture of secrecy, sexual abuse of children could remain hidden for a long time.

There is also manipulation in the Vatican. According to the researcher, spreading rumours about the alleged homosexuality of a cardinal or bishop is a crucial weapon to attack opponents. The rumours often come from other clergymen who are themselves in the closet.

Fifty shades of gay

“The world that I have discovered, with its fifty shades of gay, is beyond understanding”, writes Martel in his book. “Appearances are deceiving, perhaps no more than in this institution, and the declarations of principle about celibacy and the vows of chastity are equally deceitful, for behind them lies a completely different reality.”

The Vatican’s Secret Rules for Priests Who Have Children: here.

United States Southern Baptist church sexual abuse


This 10 December 2018 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:

Investigation uncovers hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in fundamental Baptist churches

A new investigation by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram uncovered hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse against those in the Independent Fundamental Baptist church. Sarah Smith, an investigative reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, joins CBSN to discuss the paper’s findings.

Now, about a bigger Baptist denomination: the Southern Baptist Convention. Founded in 1845 by supporters of slavery in the southern states of the USA who did not like northern Baptists criticizing slavery. With still quite some misogyny and Donald Trump support within this conservative church.

This 11 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Houston Chronicle‘s Abuse of Faith: ‘The destruction of innocence’ …

Convicted church leaders describe sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches. Read ‘Abuse of Faith’, our exclusive investigative series.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Systematic abuse revealed in largest Protestant church in the USA

The management of the Southern Baptist Convention in the United States has promised reforms after revelations about widespread sexual abuse within the Protestant denomination.

The Southern Baptist Convention, with more than 15 million members, is the second largest denomination in the US. The newspapers The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News revealed Sunday that since 1998 more than 380 clergy and volunteers have been accused of abuse.

More than 200 convicted

They are said to have made more than 700 victims, including young children. The victims say that within the church they were not listened to and that the complaints were covered up.

Among the perpetrators are preachers, volunteers, deacons and teachers of Sunday schools. Of the accused, 220 people have been convicted and ninety people are still in prison.

Only now, however, by examining the two newspapers, it only becomes clear how big the scandal is. The journalists collected the data using national and local databases.

Independent churches

The Southern Baptist Convention consists of approximately 47,000 independent churches across the USA. They are free to decide who to appoint. But that the churches are independent does not mean that they do not have to take responsibility, says a leader of the organisation on his own website.

Another cleric says that the leadership should have listened to the warnings about the abuse

Abuse in Roman Catholic Church

At the beginning of this month, the Roman Catholic Church in the state of Texas was also in the news because of a major abuse scandal. The church leadership released the names of 286 clergymen who had sexually abused children.

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the United States and has been under fire for abuse.

Priests’, bishops’ sexual abuse of nuns


This 2009 video from India says about itself:

Unholy secrets: A nun’s autobiography

Sister Jesme in Kerala has written a book to reveal the sexual abuse in the cloisters, of how she was abused by priests and even fellow sisters during her years in convent.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 5 February 2019:

Pope Francis is determined to end the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops. He said this on a question from a journalist during a flight from Abu Dhabi to Rome.

The reason for the question was an article in a monthly magazine of the Vatican about abuse of nuns within the Catholic Church. “It is true”, said the Pope. “There are priests and even bishops who have done this. I think it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have become aware of it.”

He pointed out that priests were suspended because of the abuse of nuns and that his predecessor Pope Benedict in 2005 disbanded a female monastic order because of sexual abuse and corruption. A spokesman for the Vatican told Reuters news agency that this was a French monastic order.

The French monastic order with abuse and corruption problems was the Contemplative Sisters of Saint John (the United States branch of that order, founded after its French origin, still exists). Nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in India, Africa, Latin America and in Italy: here.

Catholic nuns protest alleged rape by a bishop in the southern state of Kerala in India [File: AP]

This photo shows Roman Catholic nuns protesting alleged rape by a bishop in the southern state of Kerala in India.

Pope says priests’ abuse of nuns went as far as “sexual slavery“: here.

Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery: here.

Dutch Wilders’ Islamophobic sidekick converts to Islam


Joram van Klaveren and Geert Wilders as Dutch Islamophobic MPs, ANP photo

Translated from Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad today:

It may be about the largest possible ideological gap to bridge, but again it happens: Joram van Klaveren, former PVV politician, has converted to Islam. …

Van Klaveren was once the right hand man of PVV leader Geert Wilders, advocated a burqa ban, a ban on minarets and a ‘de-Islamization‘ of the Netherlands.

But now he knows two suras (chapters) of the Quran, Mohammed is his prophet and he goes through life as a Muslim, says Van Klaveren today in interviews with NRC Handelsblad daily and This is the day EO TV show.

Van Klaverens’s remarkable conversion is the final part of his search for the backgrounds and meaning of Islam, in the context of his new book. That was supposed to become an Islam-critical work, but during the study Van Klaveren’s view on religion changed radically …

“I have contributed to maintaining and nurturing a bad image of Islam, but you can not imagine how these prejudices work until you have to deal with them yourself.”

Van Klaveren, raised in a Protestant Reformed family, was member of parliament for the PVV from 2010 to 2014 and was considered a hardliner. After [a conflict] he left the party and started with fellow ex-PVV MP Louis Bontes the new right-wing party For the Netherlands (VNL). VNL won zero seats in the 2017 elections and Bontes and Van Klaveren pulled the plug. …

Earlier, the former PVV local councillor Arnoud van Doorn had converted to Islam.

Redbad, my unusual film review


This 2017 video is a scene from the new film Redbad, recorded at the Alde Feanen nature reserve in Friesland province in the Netherlands.

A film recorded not only in Alde Feanen nature reserve, but also on Ameland island and elsewhere.

A film sold to 14 countries.

This will be a very unusual film review by me. I have written all my other film reviews on this blog after seeing the films. However, when the film Redbad arrived in the cinemas, I was busy. I thought: ‘Many media expect it to become a big commercial success. So, I can wait a bit and then I will still be able to see it in the cinema’. However, after I had waited a bit, the success turned out to be not that big.

I had already gathered information on the film to write a review later. Well, I thought, it is a pity to waste that. So, I prepared to write a strange review of this movie; strange, as I read quite a lot about it, but did not see it myself. Meaning that I would not be able to say 100% certainly whether the film company’s publicity and/or the reviews were correct.

This is the trailer of the film.

Redbad film with Arabic subtitles

Then, however, I found out that someone had put Redbad, with Arabic subtitles, on YouTube. So, after all, this did not become my first film review ever without having seen the film. Though I saw it on my small computer screen; meaning I may have missed some details which I would have noticed on a big cinema screen.

One day after I saw the movie on my computer, it turned out that YouTube had deleted it.

Some reviews of Redbad are sharply critical.

The film is accused of historical inaccuracies. Also here. And here.

The film makers did have a historical adviser: Nathalie Scheenstra. However, Ms Scheenstra is a specialist in Dutch medieval clothes and jewelry. Not in other aspects.

The film depicts conflict in the Dutch Dark Ages, about 700 AD, between the Frisians, living in the north west of the present Netherlands; and the Frankish kingdom, of the south-east of what is now the Netherlands, of present Belgium and parts of present France and Germany.

Who was King Redbad?

King Redbad, the protagonist of the film, probably only ruled what is now North Holland, South Holland and Utrecht provinces; not Friesland province, as the film claims. Franks and later historians saw ‘Frisia’ from the Zwin estuary on the present Dutch-Belgian border to Denmark as an unity which it was not.

The film is mainly about Redbad’s youth, the time before he became king. However, about Redbad’s youth nothing is known. Was he a son of Aldgisl, an earlier Frisian king? Unknown. Redbad’s daughter Theudesinda, aka Thiadsvind, married Frankish royal prime minister (mayor of the palace) Grimoald the Younger, son of Frankish prime minister Pepin of Herstal. The film wrongly calls Pepin of Herstal ‘king’. And in the film, not Redbad’s daughter, but his sister marries a Frankish leader. She marries not Grimoald the Younger, but Charles Martel, who would become prime minister, and is better known to many people than that other Frankish mayor of the palace Grimoald. Charles Martel is the villain of the film, depicted as, apart from atrocities against Frisian civilians, murdering his father Pepin of Herstal and his little child nephew who might have become a rival for the mayor of the palace office.

This video shows an interview with US American actor Jonathan Banks (Mike in Breaking Bad) who plays Pepin of Herstal.

No uncle, no cousin of Redbad is known in history; though these are major roles in the film.

Both according to Christian hagiography and the film, a missionary tried to baptize Redbad. In the film, that missionary is Saint Willibrord. In historic sources, it is Saint Wulfram of Sens. In the film, the baptism attempt is while Redbad was not yet king. In Christian tradition it was while he was already king; which makes sense from the early medieval church’s viewpoint that converting a ruler makes its easier to convert his subjects (Cuius regio, eius religio …); which is less probable if the convert is a non-ruling royal family member.

Both according to tradition and in the film, Redbad then asked whether, if he would die and go to heaven being a Christian, he would then meet his deceased ancestors again. No, was the answer: it turns out that his pagan ancestors are in hell, while his Frankish enemies will be in heaven. Then, Redbad refused baptism; a bit like the 16th century native Cuban who refused baptism as he did not want to meet the Christian Spanish conquistador killers of his people in heaven.

Expansion of the Franks' realm

This picture shows the expansion of the Franks’ realm.

Who were the Frisians and the Franks?

Who were ‘Frisians’? Were they Germanic or Celtic? Was Frisia maybe Celtic speaking in the Roman age, and became Germanic speaking only later? We are not sure.

In Friesland province, people object that there is no Frisian language in the film. In the movie, the Frisians speak Dutch. The Anglo-Saxon missionaries Willibrord and Boniface speak English, not Anglo-Saxon. Early medieval Anglo-Saxon was rather similar to Frisian, that is why the church sent Anglo-Saxons as missionaries. While in the film there is a language barrier which hardly existed in the early middle ages. Franks and Danes also speak English in the film. Though it would have been logical to have the Franks speak Dutch, derived from the Frankish language.

In the film, houses of the Frisian upper class look too much like primitive barbarian dwellings. According to archaeological research, they were more comfortable than that.

This Dutch language video is about the cast of the film in a reconstructed prehistoric village in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. One should not wonder that the ‘Frisian houses’ in the film look so primitive: as they are really Eindhoven prehistoric houses.

While the Frankish aristocrats are depicted as living in castles: which look like they belong in the late Middle Ages, not the early Middle Ages (the film was recorded partly in Bouillon castle in Belgium, in its present form mainly from the 16th-17th century).

Even Frankish Emperor Charlemagne, of about 100 years after the time depicted in the film, did not live in castles like Bouillon castle, but in not so palatial farmhouses, though a bit more luxurious than usually then.

The Frankish knights in the movie are depicted wearing chain mail; not in use about 700 AD.

According to the medieval Christian Saint Wulfram hagiography, Frisians practiced human sacrifices. The film’s opening scene is a young woman burned to death as a sacrifice to the goddess Freyja. We know that later polytheist Scandinavians worshiped Freyja. But we know nothing about Frisians about 700 AD worshiping Freyja; let alone sacrificing humans to her. In fact, we know very little about Frisian polytheism then.

The Saint Wulfram hagiography mentions Frisians sacrificing humans by tying them on rafts pushed into the North Sea. That happens to Redbad early in the film. He miraculously survives, the raft taking him all the way to Denmark.

There were no invading Vikings yet in the 8th century Netherlands, as the film says wrongly.

However, the film is accurate about depicting the kingdom of the Franks as using Christianity as a tool in violently subjecting Frisians and others. The point on which Google corporation tried to censor the film for supposedly ‘insulting Christianity’ by criticizing Frankish rulers of 1300 years ago.

Franks, Frisians and xenophobic propaganda

Both the 8th century Frankish and Frisian kingdoms play a role today in right-wing nationalist propaganda.

The French neofascist National Front, now called National Rally, claims Charles Martel is a Christian hero as he waged war on the Muslim Umayyad caliphate. Marine Le Pen‘s party equates present day immigrant workers and refugees from wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere with 8th century armed Muslim soldiers.

On the other hand, Dutch neopagan neonazis see King Redbad as a hero, supposedly saving the ‘Germanic race’ from supposedly ‘Jewish’ Christianity. Ancient Germanic religion did not know ‘race’. It glorified war in its Viking age Scandinavian form. But we cannot say whether 8th century Frisian polytheism also glorified war. We know so little about early medieval Frisian religion.

The film might be interpreted as saying opposing ‘foreign intruders’, like Redbad did, is a good thing; some spectators might draw unpleasant parallels between Redbad stopping Frankish soldiers and stopping unarmed 21st century refugees from coming to the Netherlands. Historian Sven Meeder says that the film might be used by the Dutch extreme right.

However, Redbad’s fights against the Franks, in history and in the film are not really useful for chauvinist Dutch nationalism. The people of the southeastern half of what is now the Netherlands were Frankish in Redbad’s time. The present Dutch language is derived from Frankish.

Also, the real Redbad, though he fought the Franks, and did not want to convert, often had diplomatic negotiations with Franks. Like Queen Cleopatra used more diplomacy than war to keep Egypt as independent of the Roman empire as possible.

Redbad offered Christians some religious tolerance. Missionary Willibrord (depicted as a bigoted enemy of the Frisians in the film) was allowed to preach in Redbad’s kingdom.

Redbad was a pagan, but not a fanatical pagan, as the Frankish Carolingian dynasty wrongly claimed, Meeder says.

Communist Frisian author Theun de Vries wrote ‘Redbald and [Saint] Wulfram’ and ‘Odin’s City’ about Redbad.

Roman Catholic and Celtic Christianity

The film asks the question why in 754 AD Christian bishop Saint Boniface was killed near Dokkum town in Friesland. Was it murder, maybe with the vile motive of robbery; as medieval hagiographies claim? Or did Boniface rather go to Friesland with a Frankish kingdom armed force to forcibly convert Frisians, and did Frisian polytheists therefore kill him in battle, as 21st century historians think?

Historian Han Nijdam criticized the film (eg, about its depiction of Willibrord as a hardliner, and of Saint Boniface as mild; while it was the other way).

In the film, when Willibrord forcibly baptizes a woman or a man, it looks more like waterboarding torture than a religious ceremony. While in history, Boniface may have been more likely to baptize people in that violent way than Willibrord.

The historical Willibrord originally had Celtic Christian influences, which may have made him less dogmatically authoritarian. Boniface had persecuted Celtic Christianity in England. Willibrord and Boniface did not like each other.

Historians point out that the forced conversions by Saint Boniface and similar preachers basing themselves on Frankish weapons, were at least as much against Irish ‘Celtic’ Christianity as against Germanic paganism. Roman Christians accused Celtic Christians of mixing their religion with Judaism, claiming the Celts did not like to eat pork etc.

This 2014 video says about itself:

Is This the Reason Ireland Converted to Christianity?

Many attribute the spread of Christianity in Ireland to St. Patrick. But medieval history and scientific evidence dating back to 540 A.D. hint at a more cosmic reason.

‘Celtic’ Christianity originated in Ireland. It differed much from continental European Roman Catholic Christianity; due to social differences. Irish 5th century society had never been occupied by the Roman empire. It still had many leftovers from ‘primitive communism’; though there were kings, and some slaves. Saint Patrick, traditionMany attribute the spread of Christianity in Ireland to St. Patrick. But Medieval history and scientific evidence dating back to 540 A.D. hint at a more cosmic reason.ally seen as the originator of Irish Christianity, used to be a slave. ‘Saint Patrick Christianity’ used to be much less top down than Frankish and other continental religion; based on collectives of monks, rather than on hierarchies of bishops with the bishop of Rome, the pope, at the top. A difference with ‘Roman’ monasteries, where monks and nuns took vows supposedly for life, was the greater flexibility in Irish convents, where people could move in and out; a bit like in Buddhist monasticism. Women had a bigger role in churches than they had in the Frankish kingdom. Celibacy was not universal among Celtic clerics.

Irish preachers managed to convert many people in Britain and also in Germany and elsewhere on the continent to their brand of Christianity. This caused conflicts with Roman Catholics. At clerics’ meetings, that might take the form of quarreling about what was the proper time to celebrate Easter (Roman clergy thought Celtic Easter was too much like Jewish Passover). However, behind that were much deeper, social, differences.

In the Frankish kingdom and elsewhere, there were many less leftovers from ‘primitive communism’. These were countries in transition from Roman empire-days slave-owning societies to medieval feudalism. In religion, that led to hierarchical, Vatican-centred Christianity.

The Celtic and Frankish monastic ideals differed. The Celtic ideal was ‘peregrinatio’. Literally, that means ‘pilgrimage’, a concept known throughout Christianity and other religions. Specifically to the Saint Patrick monks, it meant travelling far away, without Frankish soldiers to help you, to tell people wanting to listen voluntarily about the Christian religion. Peregrinatio had a link with rests of ‘primitive communist’ nomadic hunter-gatherer societies in ancient Ireland and Scotland, never conquered by the Roman empire.

The Frankish ideal for monks was ‘stabilitas loci’. Monks should in principle stay in one place, at their monastery in territory controlled by the Frankish kingdom or other Roman Catholic states. Eg, the Frankish king, later emperor, Charlemagne was against Christian missionaries going to areas not subjected by Francia; like Celtic missionaries did. There is a parallel with peasant serfs in continental European feudal society: they were not allowed to travel unless their masters permitted it.

In England, Saint Boniface managed to defeat Saint Patrick Christianity, with a little help of coercion by Anglo-Saxon kings. In Germany, he also had successes against Celtic style Christians, with a little, or rather much, help from Frankish rulers. Celtic Christians, to become Roman Catholics in good standing, had to be re-baptised; equating them with pagans who had never been baptised. We are not sure about Celtic Christianity in early medieval Frisia. Often, Boniface converted kings and other nobles first; usually then, he could leave coercion to convert their peasant subjects to the newly Christianized nobility. The slogan ‘Cuius regio, eius religio’ is best known from 16th century conflicts in Germany between Protestants and Roman Catholics. However, it also seems to have worked about 800 years earlier. That conversion strategy did not work for Boniface in Friesland: decentralized, hardly ever been occupied by Roman empire armies. So, Frankish invasive armies had to do the work that local kings did not.

This 13 July 2018 video is called Why did the Carolingian/Frankish Empire Collapse?

In the 11th century, after Saint Patrick Christianity had been defeated in Britain and on the continent, newly Christianized Normans conquered England and made themselves kings there. After that, the Normans invaded Ireland, bringing feudalism and destroying Celtic Christianity to replace it with Roman episcopal hierarchy.

The people of Ireland paid a bloody price for that forced conversion to Vatican-centric religion. Eg, when in 1689 the Protestant king of England, William III, supported by the pope, defeated Irish forces in the battle of the Boyne.

Eg, when in the 19th century Protestant Anglo-Irish landlords obstructed Home Rule for Ireland, claiming it would be ‘Rome rule’. Untrue, but not 100% incredible.

And in the 20th century, when the Roman Catholic hierarchy subjected Irish women to slave labour, and Roman Catholic children’s homes massively dumped dead Irish babies in septic tanks and other mass graves.

And why was the missionary Saint Boniface killed in Friesland province, as the film’s publicity material asks? According to historians, because of converting people forcibly, accompanied by Frankish soldiers. While the film depicts the not-so-hardline Saint Willibrord as a hardliner; and Boniface as a moderate. It is more logical for Boniface to have been killed for being as historians depict him than for being as the film depicts him.