, Research Paper
The film Stigmata is a graphic and frightening tale of spiritual awakening that provokes the viewer to question their own faith in religion. It is not merely a film about a young stigmatic woman. More importantly director Rupert Wainwright has produced a film portraying his view of the Catholic Church. His view is the same as that of an ancient scroll found in 1945 and that of a priest from the 11th Century named Thomas Aquinas. When a young, atheist, woman named Frankie Page (Patricia Arquette) becomes afflicted with the wounds of Christ, or stigmata, from an unseen attacker, the Vatican decides to send an official, Father Andrew (Gabriel Byrne) to investigate. Upon meeting Frankie and witnessing the stigmata first hand, he becomes more concerned with saving her life than debunking her claims. But he also finds himself contemplating his religion upon learning the truth about the actions of the Catholic Church.
The truth that he discovers is that when the dead sea scrolls were found in 1945, in another cave not far from them in Nag Hamadi, another text was found. This scroll, written entirely in Aramaic ( the language of Jesus ), is thought by many to be the only living text of Jesus Christ himself. You d think that the church would have hailed this discovery as a blessing but instead the church has described the scroll as heresy, since it s contents would destroy the fabric of the church. A church that owns more real estate world wide and is worth more money than other single corporation in the world. The church doesn t want this scroll to be published as a book of the bible is because the gospel is an account of Jesus on the night of his last supper. It states how he wants his church to be conducted after his death. The gospel starts out by saying, The kingdom of god is inside you, and all around you. Not in buildings of wood and stone. Jesus taught that man does not need an institution between himself and God. But rather he taught that the true church of God exists in nature, not in elaborately decorated buildings. I believe that this point can be made more clear by looking at the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas is probably the greatest philosopher who ever lived. He wrote a sixteen volume work in which he discussed over six thousand questions on God. His work was thought by many to be evil because some believed it was anti-church. He proved that God s existence is not so obvious that it needs no proof, and that it is not so obscure that it could not be proved. Nothing in his writings relies on blind faith, which is highly contradictory to the teachings of the church which contends that man could never understand God completely. Through logic and reason Thomas came up with five proofs for God s existence. The first proof is the presence of motion. Physics explains that everything is either potentially in motion or actually in motion. Nothing in the universe can be set into motion on it s own, rather it is set into motion by an outside force. And since there are things in motion it is only logical that at one time nothing was in motion. In other words everything that is in motion could be traced back to an original movement. This movement consisted of no potential energy since it had to have moved on it s own. It was pure actuality. We call this first motion God. The second proof lies in existence itself. Nothing could cause the existence of itself. Rather everything is brought into existence from something else already in existence. But if there was no first uncaused cause then all secondary causes leading up to you and me today could not have existed. Since we do exist then so does the first uncaused cause. This uncaused cause we call God. The third proof also lies in existence. Since things in existence are corruptible, that is they are able to not exist, it is logical that at one time nothing existed. If at one time nothing was in existence than it is impossible for something to ever come to exist ( this was explained in the last proof ). Therefore not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. The fourth proof lies in the perfection and gradation of things. Some things are more perfect than others. Since man, for example, is a complex organism that relies on all it s parts to work, it is impossible for a man to be perfect. For the simplest things such as rocks are more perfect in that a rock does not rely on anything else to exist. ( This is why the notion of God as an old man sitting in the sky is ridiculous. God must be completely simple in order to be perfect.) Since everything in nature is more or less perfect than something else in nature, it is logical that there has to be a completely simple being that is absolutely perfect. A perfect being would have to be simple yet infinite and incorruptible, this being we call God. The fifth proof for God s existence lies in the perfection of the design of nature. Design can only be caused by an intelligent designer. Mindless nature could not have designed itself or have come about from chaos into perfection. For example, the presence of every form of life relies entirely on water, and water is the only thing in existence that weighs less in it s solid state than in it s liquid state, which is why ice floats. If ice did not float lake s and rivers would freeze from the bottom up and life would not be able to exist. All of these proofs for God s existence prove one thing. That in order for God to be God he would have to be infinite- infinite in perfection, goodness, and existence. Therefore, why would God exist more in a Church? Why do people have to go to a building which is elaborately decorated to pray to God? It is impossible for God to be more present in a Church than anywhere else. In Stigmata Petrocelli ( Rade Serbedzija) has a line that sums everything up, he says, It s a building. The true church of Jesus Christ is so much more. Not in buildings made of wood and stone. I love Jesus, I don t need an institution between him and me. You see, just God and man, no priests, no churches. Even though certain moments in the film are very dramatic and can be frightening, the most frightening thing about the film is that it is based in truth. This scroll really was found in 1945 and has been rejected by the church, a church that is supposedly only in existence to spread the word of Jesus. This example of the Catholic Church s treachery is probably the most frightening thing I ve ever heard.