Every year, the interfaith Religious Communications Council presents the DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards to active members who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations. This year, founding director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, Sister Rose Pacatte, received the Award of Merit in the Broadcast/Cable TV Series category for her introductions and commentary provided for the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Spotlight series, Condemned, aired in March of 2016. The series explored the history of the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency and the influence the Church exerted over the film industry in its early days.
While offering congratulations to Sister Rose, I was able to ask her about the series and her involvement.
Sister Hosea Rupprecht: How did your participation with TCM come about?
Sister Rose Pacatte: I received an email from Cameron Quinn, VP of Turner Classic Movies, inviting me to host the series in the fall of 2015.
HR: Do you know how Mr. Quinn found out about you? It’s my guess that TV stations don’t have the names of nuns involved in media at the tip of their fingers, right?
RP: Right! TCM knew someone in the Catholic press who was aware of my film writing and reviews, including my online TV work with Loyola productions. TCM asked him and he gave them my name.
HR: How does the ministry of the Daughters of St. Paul fit it with your participation at TCM and the Condemned series?
RP: I accepted this invitation because of the opportunity to inform and educate people about the history of Hollywood (and some international film) and the Church's relationship with cinema and how it has evolved through the decades from censorship and condemnation to offering analysis and guidance and trusting people to make wise decisions for themselves and their children.
HR: As a Catholic commentator on film, what was your goal with the introductions to the films in the Condemned series?
RP: I think it’s important for people to understand the purpose of film ratings as information for guidance. Just because a film is designated for grown-ups doesn't make a film bad. Rather, it indicates that the film's subject matter is not for children. This series was an opportunity to invite the audience to move beyond content analysis to understanding the context of the story and the moral challenges it might present – some that are as old as the Bible.
HR: What would be the most important snippet of advice you would give to people if they are trying to choose whether or not to see a certain film?
RP: Go beyond Rotten Tomatoes! Read reviews. Broaden your understanding of what morality means. Check the ratings if you plan on taking your kids. Articulate the values that guide your life so you will know your lens. If you say "no" to your kids, explain why. Be an active rather than passive participant in culture. Be informed and make up your own mind.
HR: You mention about knowing your “lens.” What’s yours?
RP: My lens is made up of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, especially human dignity, the common good, solidarity, the environment, the family, the community and non-violence. Immorality goes beyond sex, violence, bad language, smoking and alcohol to neglect of the poor, mistreatment of the homeless and immigrants, greed, war as a means to peace, violence toward women and children, and on and on.
HR: What is the best thing about this award for you personally and in ministry?
RP: This award, coming from an interreligious organization, draws attention to the fact that the Church's interest in and influence on culture is appreciated by many. It affirms that it is a good thing to engage in culture and to remember how many times Jesus said, "Do not be afraid!" and his promise to be with us as we follow him as disciples and communicate his Word via today's media.
(Photo courtesy of Loyola Productions)