Gilbert Speaks on HBO’s The Young Pope

22 Jan


I’m not a fan of organized religion, but I am a fan of Pope Francis. Born in Argentina, Pope Francis has won universal respect in his attempt to buck the patriarchal mindset of the Roman Catholic Church that drove the faithful from the Church’s pews and the coffers. As contemporary a thinker as Pope Francis is, I often wondered how the Vatican would function with an American Pope. Thanks to director, Paolo Sorrentino and the new HBO series “The Young Pope” we need not wonder anymore. Who is Lenny Belardo? Find out after the jump.


Set in the present day Vatican City, The Young Pope follows the turbulent papacy of Lenny Belardo. It stars Jude Law as the fictional Pope Pius X111, Diane Keaton as Sister Mary and Silvio Orlando as Cardinal Voiello.


Pope Pius X111 is a complex character who is both compassionate towards the weak and the poor, while stubbornly resistant to the Vatican’s way of doing business. Born in Brooklyn New York, Lenny Belardo had been raised by nuns in an orphanage since the age of eight. Abandoned by his hippy parents, Sister Mary became both father and mother to the boy. While the cardinals of the Vatican had expected the youthful and handsome Lenny to be their social media puppet with the task of modernizing the church, they soon realize that Lenny is a militant conservative. When the subject of the sale of merchandise bearing his image comes up, Lenny bats that money making plan right out of the ball field. “I do not have an image…I am no one…Only Christ exists.”


When Lenny sends for and then places Sister Mary as his personal advisor over the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Voiello, it is then that we realize just how cunning and calculating this American Pope can be. Lenny’s casual attitude hides the tiger within. The cardinals, who are comfortable with being in control, now freeze in fear when Lenny casts his appraising eyes upon them. The only man who does not fear Lenny is Father Spencer (James Cromwell), a former mentor. Lenny reveals some of his agenda when he tells his confessor that he has no sins to confess, but he uses said confessor to spy and report on all of the Vatican Cardinals.


Lenny can be gentle in one moment as we watch him calm a frightened kangaroo that was given to him as a gift. He then releases the kangaroo inside the Vatican gardens and treats it as a pet. But, if we expect him to treat the faithful in the same loving manner as that kangaroo, then we are in for a shock.


I’m not sure what I expected to hear when Lenny gave his first public address from the palace balcony of St. Peter’s Square. Hidden in the shadows to hinder his being photographed, Lenny berates the faithful, who have arrived by the thousands and are in dire need of encouraging words. Instead of the usual “God loves you” speech, the faithful are told they have forgotten God and it’s up to them to prove that GOD exists. There is complete silence and dismay from both the faithful and the Cardinals as Lenny walks off the balcony.


I’ve watched the first two episodes and I’m hooked on Pope Pius X111. I can’t wait to see what this chain smoking, cherry coke drinking Pontiff does next. The recreation of the interior and exterior of the Vatican and, the clothing worn by both the Cardinals and Lenny are stunningly beautiful. There are ten episodes and you can watch the show on HBO on Sundays at 9pm. It would be sacrilegious to miss this series.

2 Responses to “Gilbert Speaks on HBO’s The Young Pope”

  1. Jess January 23, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    I watched both episodes over the weekend and really like it. Great review and synopsis!

    • gilbertspeaks January 23, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

      Wait until you see episode 3. I am hooked on this show

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