Something struck me while perusing various Catholic reviews of Cabrini, the new biopic of the great missionary saint who served the immigrant poor in New York. The reviewers seemed to admit, tacitly or explicitly, what I observed in my own viewing: the film contains little about God, prayer, or the Catholic faith in general. Yet, oddly, many of these reviewers don’t conclude that this is a fatal flaw in a movie about a Catholic saint.

To be honest, despite the film’s executive producer and director being Catholic, I wasn’t really expecting the Mormon company Angel Studios to distribute an unreservedly Catholic film — one that would feature St. Frances’s deep devotion to the Sacred Heart, for instance. But while it admirably portrays Cabrini spending herself in service to the poor and winning the hearts of young ruffians (in impressive sets conveying old New York), the film is barely even generically Christian in its focus, stressing instead Cabrini’s personal drive (with a heavy feminist accent), social work, and the pervasiveness of anti-Italian discrimination in 19th-century New York (but nothing at all about the accompanying anti-Catholic bigotry).

The story’s trappings of priests, bishops, and habited nuns are, for the most part, mere trappings. Cabrini almost never mentions God even when trying to convince the clergy to support her work, and is virtually never seen praying, even when at a deathbed. At one point she tells her sisters that they can do “all things in Him Who strengthens us”, but far more emphasis is placed on her own strength as a woman….

From Catholic Culture