Marco Bellocchio’s drama “Kidnapped” that reconstructs the true tale of a Jewish boy who was kidnapped and forcibly raised as a Christian in 19th century Rome, has opened strongly in Italy following its Cannes launch.
The revered Italian auteur’s film about Edgardo Mortara, who in 1858 was taken away from his family in Bologna to live in the Vatican – after it surfaced that the boy secretly been baptized a Christian – has also sparked debate and prompted the Vatican to comment the abduction for which Pope Pius IX has been held responsible.
“Kidnapped” over the weekend bowed in third place at the Italian box office, placing itself after “The Little Mermaid” and “Fast X” and pulling a handsome more than €550,000 ($587,000) intake to date from roughly 300 screens.
Bellocchio, 83, has been promoting the film in Italian cinemas, just as “Kidnapped” is sparking debate about Pius IX’s role in the abduction and the fact that the Vatican has never asked for forgiveness for this act of violence.
Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, in an open letter to la Repubblica newspaper pointed out that “The official defenses of Pius IX and his persecutory apparatus that are surfacing these days from many parts of the Catholic world, are, if not astonishing, at least worrying,” he wrote.
The Vatican City newspaper, Osservatore Romano, weighed in on the matter with an editorial on Tuesday noting that today the abduction of Edgardo Mortara “could no longer repeat itself” because the Second Vatican Council, which during the early 1960s brought the Church closer to the needs and conditions of the modern world, has “helped to change the perspective” of those times under which “Every baptized child had to be educated Catholic, even against the will of the parents.”
Bellocchio, who has written Pope Francis hoping the pontiff will see the film, in an interview with Variety during Cannes commented on the fact that Pope Pius IX was beatified in the year 2000.
“I remember the disappointment of Mortara’s descendants about the beatification,” he said. “For a pope it was a big stain [on his consciousness]. Elena Mortara, his grand niece, was flabbergasted that the Church would justify this act.”
While far from asking for forgiveness for the abduction, the Vatican has now acknowledged that, from a contemporary perspective, it was wrong.