“Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” a new film about Queen Elizabeth opens today in theaters. There is nothing new, however, about the way British Catholics are depicted compared to their Protestant counterparts.
According to the New York Times, the portrayal of the “Catholic-led holy war” waged by Spain’s King Philip II against Elizabeth, “with its ominous monks and Latin chants, reeks of ‘The Da Vinci Code.’” And the National Catholic Register’s critic reports that the flick shows that “everything bad, evil and corrupt in the world ultimately is the bitter fruit of…Catholicism.” In contrast, Protestantism represents “conscience, religious freedom, and of course heroic resistance to Catholic oppression.”
Such bigotry against Catholicism is rather old-fashioned. The notion that Catholics are conspiratorial, socially backward and not to be trusted by their enlightened, Protestant neighbors was abandoned long ago by many across the pond. It is far from dead, however. Even now, in the twenty-first century, neither a Catholic nor anyone married to a Catholic may hold the throne in the United Kingdom. This is one of the lingering effects of Elizabeth’s reign.