The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Vatican paper sings praises of “The Blues Brothers”

To mark the 30th anniversary of the John Belushi classic — which contains the immortal line, “We’re on a mission from God” — the Vatican newspaper devotes a whole page, from editor Gian Maria Vian, to celebrating the film’s Catholicity.

National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin explains:

It’s the newspaper’s latest foray into pop culture which, like its articles on the Beatles, Michael Jackson and others, will be welcomed by some as a refreshing innovation but leave others bemused and not a little irritated. “Vatican Gives Thumbs Up to The Blues Brothers” is the likely headline if some secular papers choose to run the story tomorrow.


So what does Vian say? He does actually seem to make some valid points, though I don’t know the film well so it’s hard to say.

“The clues are not lacking in a work where the details are certainly not random,” he writes. “To start with, there’s the framed photograph of a young and strong John Paul II in the house of the landlord of Lou ‘Blue’ Marini – a man with a Sicilian accent and dressed in black, therefore Catholic.”

Vian goes on to list other Catholic pointers in the film, such as the Catholic orphanage, called St. Helena and the Holy Shroud, where the two protagonists, Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) Blues, grow up, “Sister Mary Stigmata, called the Penguin,” who runs the institution, and the “unbearable Nazis of Illinois.”


He goes through the plot, a tale of redemption for paroled convict Jake and his brother Elwood, who take on “a mission from God” to save the orphanage from foreclosure. For anyone unfamiliar with the film, the two brothers decide they must re-form their rhythm and blues band, The Blues Brothers, and organize a performance to earn $5,000 to pay the tax assessor. Along the way they are targeted by a destructive “mystery woman”, Neo-Nazis, and a country and western band–all while being relentlessly pursued by the police.

Vian notes how they go about saving the orphanage, “but how to do it with validity without departing (too much) from the values conveyed by the sisters and despite some transgressions?” he asks. “Enlightenment comes in the Baptist church Triple Rock,” Vian explains, “where they listen to a sermon by the Reverend Cleophus James on the necessity not to waste their lives.”

Check out the rest at the link.

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posted June 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Glad to see the there is one thing the RCC and I can agree on…The classic movie, The Blues Brothers.

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posted June 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Well it is no “Bells of St. Mary” but it is far more respectful of Catholic beliefs than most of what Hellywood has produced in the past 30 years.

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Deacon Necessary

posted June 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm

That film was released in the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of (Catholic) High school. It meant alot to me then, and still does today.
I agree with the reviewer’s observations 100%!

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