Vatican calls Golden Compass hopeless
Posted on by jessia

Reuters reports that the Vatican, Wednesday, condemned the film adaptation of The Golden Compass as well as Philip Pullman himself. The long editorial in l’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, was supposedly the harshest since the release of The Da Vinci Code. ‘”In Pullman’s world, hope simply does not exist, because there is no salvation but only personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events,” the editorial said.’ The Vatican newspaper described Pullman’s world as hopeless and Godless, demonstrating that “when man tries to eliminate God from his horizon, everything is reduced, made sad, cold and inhumane.” Read more.

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32 Responses to Vatican calls Golden Compass hopeless

  1. Leif says:

    “…only personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events”

    Wait… that’s a bad thing?

  2. jessia says:

    i don’t get it either. and hdm is pretty much a salvation story anyways… it’s just human salvation rather than god-dependent salvation. how is that sad, cold, or inhumane?

  3. andria says:

    so,their saying we shouldnt do what we think, but what ‘god thinks’ and follow him?i dont get it.

  4. DarkShaman says:

    I think its quite obvious that no one involved in that article has read the books. I mean sheesh, its ABOUT how things are “cold and inhumane” under a religious state and how the true universe is NOT cold and inhumane but rife with Dust (What I would dub a non-sentient thought-force. Dust is to thought what Photons are to sight or somesuch.)

    anyway yeah, I just laugh because all they’re doing is hurting their own twisted cause with articles like this.

  5. Wendy says:


    How incredibly pathetic of them. Do they have so little faith in themselves that they have to go trash a bunch of great books?

  6. aeran says:

    If anyone leaves the theater feeling emotionless, hopeless, etc., it’s because they just saw a poorly made film. Nothing to do with the ideology.

  7. Nadeen says:

    The film is about friendship and keeping promises. We even get to see the seeds of Mrs. Coulter’s redemption taking root. I confess I thought the film was gem, but even if a person thinks it is poorly made I think anyone seeing it would be hard pressed to describe it as hopeless, sad, cold and inhumane. Godless probably fits though.

  8. Cheiromancer says:

    L’Osservatore Romano is not the Vatican, any more than the Washington Post is the U.S. Government, or Bill Donahue is the Catholic Church.

  9. Cantado says:

    It’s nice to know that the Vatican bothered to read the books before judging them. Not.

    Their remarks are blatantly based on the rumors that have been spread about the book without any grounding in fact. The opposite of what people think is quite true of what Philip Pullman wrote.

  10. Mogget says:

    Thank Goodness! This is probably the single best thing that could happen for the movie other than a direct condemnation from the Pope himself. A Vatican pan will work wonders for ticket sales, and I had long been hoping that something like this would happen.

  11. Emz says:

    “when man tries to eliminate God from his horizon, everything is reduced, made sad, cold and inhumane”


  12. Salmairion says:

    It’s so pathetic of them… Nothing more to say.

  13. Gringa says:

    Funnily enough, about three people mentioned to me after the Vatican said all that, saying they’ll have read the trilogy now. My father, in particular, sounds a great deal more excited about finishing the trilogy now.

    So I guess, let the Vatican say all they want! They are only drawing more attention to the books, after all. 😀

    (By way, did they even read the whole trilogy?)

  14. Yelbakk says:

    “Godless” is just about right. Pullman himself will concur. And even more so: this godlessness is the whole point of it. (Well, one of the whole points…)

    “Hopless” – of course, the HDM-universe is only hopeless for those who insist that they need some god-figure to give them hope. For such people, the view of the world must be a very sad and limited thing (just look at the wording: “when man tries to eliminate God from his horizon” – I would think when you have nothing obstructing your view, you get to see more. With some god on the horizon, you really don’t get to see much, literally. All you do see is this god thing lurking all over the place.)
    Well, anyway. It seems that such people watch the movie/read the book with only one (imagine that: ONLY ONE!) qustion on their minds: Does this movie/book repeat the same things that I have been talking about all the time? Their only criterion to judge a book is: does this book agree with the bible. Put differently, these people would feel fine if there only was this only one book, the bible.

    And this is EXACTLY what Pullman described in HDM: there are two forces in the world. One that tries to look for new things, knowledge, experience. The other tries to keep knowledge etc. down, keep it limited, prevent people from knowing more, from seeing the world through different eyes.

    So this Vatican newspaper acts exactly as Pullman described, or even predicted.

    And of course, in condemning the book, they make it even more appealing. So, what can we say, other than putting on a Scoresbyan sardonic smile and saying, “well done, Vatican”?


  15. Aidan says:

    Ah, this really makes my day. The Vatican condemn my favourite story – confirming that it is just the right story for me.
    I see many people saying that these silly old men (well, the papacy mostly are, aren’t they?)have obviously not even read the books; that may well be true, but even if any had, they would still splutter the same nonsense, because their faith has been upset.
    The rebel in me likes being reminded that by enjoying this story he is upsetting a lot of people I really don’t like. Lets all be proud to be godless.


  16. Salmairion says:


  17. Michelle says:

    I’m amazed at the ignorance that people are showing towards the books and movie, judging them purely on the heresay of others. Just check out the number of websites, facebook groups etc. that have popped up to condemn. Honestly … doesn’t anyone bother to actually experience things themselves before forming opinions???

  18. Hope says:

    Hey, this is a fantasy film get a life, the films 2 and 3 will be even better than the first. Don`t listen to other peoples coments go see the film yourself then decide. I know a canon who has just seen the film and he thinks it is great!! Merry Xmas

  19. Salmairion says:

    Re to Michelle:
    Honestly … doesn’t anyone bother to actually experience things themselves before forming opinions???

    Well, aparently they don’t. It must be to tiring for their close-minded minds…

  20. Nick says:

    It’s a movie. What are they so worried about? People won’t start running around burning crosses and things like that. The Church takes verything way too literally.

  21. Rachel Vale says:

    He forgot to mention one word. When man has no “God”, “everything is reduced, made sad, cold and inhumane.”…… and REALISTIC. I’m not saying that all people should denounce their faith in God. I’m far from saying that, for I believe that for many, it is a comfort to know that their lost loved ones are safe and that they are “superior” to others due to their own personal belief in an abstract myth. However, I am denouncing and ridiculing the closed-mindedness that the Vatican is displaying–excuse my colloquialism, but what’s up the Vatican’s butt? Why are they so concerned about a movie. This great obsession and worry about the movie says more about the actual church rather than the movie. For if one movie is so “hopeless” that the Catholics have to constantly comment on it and if one simple, (amazing), fantasy movie is so influential that it can single handedly convert the children of the world to atheism, then it’s obvious the church is frightened and weak and can not withstand any small attack on its authority. Furthermore, it’s about time someone challenged the church. I condone Pullman for making a stand for free-will and against an overwhelming, overpowering, oppressive body of power. And, to analyze the Vatican’s rhetoric, it claims that godless people only have a, “personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events.” This implies that lonesome humans, without God, have to go it alone and must control their own world. For one, no duh, Sherlock, we’re bright. No overpowering God would naturally mean that humans have control of their own destiny. In addition, now, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see the problem with people believing that there is no divine force that controls everything. Besides, what happened to “free will” on which God bestowed humans in Genesis (have these people even read the bible?) Along those same lines, they believe in and uphold the beliefs and values of Jesus Christ, right? So what happened to tolerance, open-mindedness, brotherly-love–all those hippie-eske proclamations made by Jesus? Or do those go out the window if someone doesn’t agree with their point of view?
    All I’m saying is the Catholic Church is being incredibly hypocritical (claiming Pullman is using a tricky, evil plot to turn children into atheists when Catholics use the same techniques to a more extreme degree to brainwash children into believing in the Catholic faith). So my advice to them–stop blaming other people for your own faults. Better yourself by admitting your faults, and don’t point fingers at anyone. Pointing fingers merely lowers yourself to a sad, pathetic level.
    I have another point. Apparently the Catholics rejoiced when the first weekend pulled in only $26.1 million for The Golden Compass compared to the 65.6 million that the Chronicles of Narnia (a hailed “good christian” book)pulled in for the first weekend. However, they completely ignore a blaring lurking variable. The Narnia series is a compulsory book that kinds have to read in at least California. Besides, that, it is far more well known. Plus, this is a chirstian nation, and since this series of books is for good christian kids, it is quite popular. On the other hand, The Golden Compass is not that well known; not because it’s “evil” or “promoting atheism”–it’s just that not a lot of people have read the books. With my own experiences, I only know 3 people who have ever read the series. 2 out of the 3 are highly religious, which shows that people don’t avoid the books because of the anti-religious sentiment. It’s kind of ironic–it’s a hysterical, non-logical Salem Witch Trial all over again, but instead of witches there’s Pullmans who defy the authority of the church, and instead of senseless burnings there are senseless boycotts.
    All I can say, I am quite ashamed to be an American right now. This nation is supposed to be tolerant and accepting, yet it is in this nation that the Golden Compass isn’t doing too well. I mean Alvin and the Chipmunks got a better turnout on opening weekend–sad and pathetic.
    In sum, this sad, sad situation shows the weakness of the Church and the stupidity of humans in general.

  22. Salmairion says:

    Re to Rachel:
    Well, you’ve summed it up quite well. It is extremely sad to see that the Vatican is so weak to even care about a movie, or a book. And anyway, that isn’t how they’ll attract youg people into going to church on sunday (at least in Europe). I think that the movie made more money in Europe, but that’s probably, like you said, because the books are better known here, and more appreciated, maybe.

  23. AuroraTraveler says:

    Yeah, they’re just trying to make sure no one will read the book because they’re scared that they’ll get anti-christian ideas. Which they will, because it’s fact! But the good thing is that by telling people not to read it, they’ve pretty much made sure everyone will. Like with Umbridge’s decrees in HP 5, lol.

  24. sunny.d says:

    the vatican aren’t making any good points, they are just calling philip pullman names! also, when they say that it is made sad, cold and inhumane; they dont give any reasons as to why it is like that.

  25. sunny.d says:

    if the vatican has something against pullman they should give their reasons why. i dont know why they called him hopeless when he has won many awards for his books. Godless- probably isnt even a word. the vatican should be embarassed because now they have gained a reputation of critisizing people who aren’t catholic. im a catholic myself and i think that what the vatican said was out of order

  26. sunny.d says:

    we live in a realistic world, not in a fairytale. books are written for entertainment or for factual purposes. i dont know about any one else but i learnt a lot about particles/quantum physics when i read the trilogy.

  27. Anthony says:

    I agree! They shouldn’t make a sequel to this atheistic writing. NL should instead make a sequel to the Passion of the Christ, or something involving God.

  28. ms rosmerta says:

    When the Vatican said “Void of any particular emotion”, what in the world does that mean? It is only a movie, for crying out loud, how typical of the witch hunters to point fingers. I couldn’t wait to see it, and can’t wait for the next movie in the trilogy to come out. I may even go and get all three books before the movies all come out, so they can be fearful of that, lol I would beware, this borders on censorship. If they had their way, no one would see anything unless it gets their approval. I hope people are smart enough to use their own judgement about whether they want to see this movie or want their children to watch it and if not they can stay home. Why don’t they worry about poverty, crime, and inhumanity, and stop whining. If their is a great chill, I doubt if “The Golden Compass” will have much to do with it, but rather people willing to pass judgement on freedom of expression. I think people from many different cultural backgrounds would get a lot of enjoyment out of this movie. I highly recommend it and am not swayed in the least by their biased oppinion. I agree with Aurora, its like Umbridges decrees in HP 5 LOL LOL!! BTW, Sarafina ROCKS!

  29. MacFli says:

    I just took my lady to see the film, and she didn’t understand
    why religious people were so upset by it. I am upset by the film but only because it sucked. I do love HDM though…

  30. mark scoresby says:

    Give the vatican newspaper a break.No offence to the
    books,I am a fan,they are a bit anti-christian

  31. Daviddatsme says:

    Well, can’t complain with The Vatican. I am a big fan of the books,but they are very anti-christian.

  32. Lee Zygouras says:

    It’s amazing once again that the obvious is always understated and people are regarded
    as hopeless entities.
    Behind imagination is the part that refelcts reality, born out off spiritual connectivity with the future.
    The church has finaly lost the true grounds of it’s existence and reasons of it’s mind, from fear
    Of the obvious.

    truth by few, faith by many. Lee!