The movie “Dogma” didn’t do too well at the box office—after 12 weeks it pulled in a measly $27 million—but the critics, being for the most part critical of the Catholic Church, liked it. Indeed, some loved it so much they voted it one of the ten best movies of 1999. Among “Dogma’s” fans were priests.
Father John Kirwin, pastor of St. John’s/St. Ann’s Church in Albany, New York, criticized Catholic League president William Donohue for not understanding “the art of caricature.” “I am inclined to think that caricature lends itself to being better understood on the screen than on the page,” he wrote in Albany’s Times Union, “and yet Donohue based his stand only on a reading of the script.” Father Kirwin also said that the film was seen by the league as “a mockery of the things they hold sacred,” making plain his stand that what we hold sacred is not what he holds sacred.
In the pages of the Catholic journal Commentary, movie reviewer Richard Alleva boasted, “I liked the movie’s insolence,” noting that his favorite scene was the “muse-angel turned stripper” who chews bubble gum “while dancing on top of a bar.”