By John-Henry Westen

ST. LOUIS, December 14, 2007 ( – The warnings against the film ‘The Golden Compass’ by a growing number of Catholic bishops in the United States come as a much needed correction to a positive review of the film by the Office for Film and Broadcasting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). That positive review, which was pulled this week, was used by the producers of the film to advertise the film as if it had the approval of US Bishops. 

Newspaper ads for the film included this line: “The Golden Compass is an Exciting Adventure Story, Entirely in Harmony with Catholic Teaching.”  The line is a compilation of quotes from the USCCB Film Office review.

Writing in his diocesan newspaper, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke took aim at the USCCB review.  “A most defective review of the film was published by Catholic News Service,” he wrote. “The review has by now been removed from the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The review was not based on a viewing of the film by bishops and was not endorsed by the bishops,” he added.

A similar criticism of the USCCB film office review was made by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput earlier this week.   While he did not identify the USCCB office review specifically, Archbishop Chaput noted that “The aggressively anti-religious, anti-Christian undercurrent in “The Golden Compass” is unmistakable and at times undisguised” adding “The idea that any Christian film critics could overlook or downplay these negative elements, as some have seemed to do, is simply baffling.”

As of this writing’s count of US bishops publicly opposing the film and books includes one Cardinal, four Archbishops, and four Bishops.

Some Catholic leaders including Human Life International President Fr. Tom Euteneuer have called for the firing of Harry Forbes, Director of the USCCB film office and the primary author of the controversial review.  Forbes was also responsible for a glowing review of the homosexual-propaganda film Brokeback Mountain.

In a press release issued Wednesday Father Euteneuer said, “I refuse to believe that Harry Forbes, who gave such glowing remarks to the homosexual promo film Brokeback Mountain and the atheist indoctrination flick The Golden Compass, speaks in the name of our bishops. An employee who shames our bishops with reviews of this sort should be fired. He now has a track record and is not worthy to be a public spokesperson for any Catholic let alone the national conference of bishops. I urgently ask the bishops to correct this anomaly at the headquarters and restore the dignity of the conference, which has been sullied by this man.”

“There seems to be a decades-old pattern of embarrassment on the part of some USCCB subordinates and other lay officials when it comes to the teachings of the Catholic Church, said the HLI leader.

Father Euteneuer recalled: “In December, 2005, Forbes’s review of Brokeback Mountain with its original ‘L’ rating for ‘Limited’ had to be corrected and reclassified as ‘O’ for ‘Morally Objectionable.’ The bishops have been embarrassed by their staff like clockwork for almost 20 years. Now, in December 2007, the bishops have had to withdraw Forbes’s review of The Golden Compass from CNS (Catholic News Service) after publication. After major scandals involving homosexual clergy, do we really need their movie reviewer now tiptoeing around hostile atheism?

The USCCB office refused comment to on the matter.

To express concerns contact:

James Accurso, Assistant Director of Communications in the office of USCCB President Cardinal George informed that concerns should be sent to the USCCB office of communications:

(202) 541-3000

USCCB President
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archdiocese of Chicago
155 E. Superior Street
Chicago, IL 60611
312-751- 8200