Doubt (2008 film)

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English: Philip Seymour Hoffman at a Hudson Un...

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English: Meryl Streep
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So after Sunday’s sermon where Pastor Doug used the movie Doubt, which led me online to my favourite movie rental palace, The Calgary Public Library to rewatch this movie. The plot is quite simple a priest is under suspicion of molesting the first African American Student in his catholic school/parish.

The head sister (played by Meryl Streep) watches this man with effiminate actions, who has a passion/connection to working with the youth of the parish and encouraging them, calling them out of class…and begins to doubt that it is all above board.

The crescendo moves to a powerful scene where she lies and says she called his past parish and spoken to the nun there (a lie) that led the priest (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) to resign and take a leave of absence until the Bishop reassigns him to a bigger parish (a promotion if you will).

The question though arises is what she phrases at the end: “I have doubts”. Did this lie force an innocent man into a quasi confession? Did the church actually protect and reward an abuser? Was enough done? What kind of society is created by the church where parents turn a blind eye to these behaviours? Does the institution/system work? And if so for who? And a litany of other doubts I am sure.

Why is this movie important? First it can help one understand how clergy can use their position of authority/power to gain power over their victims when they are not men/women seeking God.  It also is important because the doubts raised in this stalwart nun’s heart in regards to church over this, is a good conversation starter for each of our congregations about where we have created doubt in our church family, and broader community through our actions (inactions).


  1. banksshot says:

    The doubts are that we, as a society, have caved in to the boy who cries wolf. We react and condem before we question. And as each time the doubt of the wolf is exposed we will then swing to the other side and not listen to the boy who cries out for real. Our society, our community, our parishes did swing to the side of not listening anymore, and now we are swinging to the other side of reacting to the cry. We have to find that middle ground and not doubt ourselves.

    • Ty says:

      Yet in this movie, the boy did not say anything, he just withdrew and it was the priests own actions that began arousing suspicion so an outside observer sought out what the truth was, both sisters were on opposite sides of the equation one believed in innocence and one believed in guilt…quite a powerful dichotomy for how the church reacts, I do agree we go to two extremes, yet when one answers the vocational call of shepherd, one needs to be held to a higher authority with the power others give them.
      Thank you for you thoughts.

  2. The 1/3 Challenge « A Robin Hood's Musing says:

    […] Doubt Reflected ( […]

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