Patrick Stewart raves about ‘sensational’ Louvre Abu Dhabi

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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
Updated 10 December 2017
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Patrick Stewart raves about ‘sensational’ Louvre Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Legendary actor Patrick Stewart, known for iconic roles in some of film’s biggest franchises and his years in British theater, raved about his experience at the Louvre Abu Dhabi while on stage at the 14th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).
“We went to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and if you have yet to see it — I know it’s only been open for a little more than three weeks — it’s sensational,” Stewart said. “The collection is good, but the way it is organized is what makes it unique — unlike any other gallery or museum I’ve been in.”
Stewart also had kind words about his third visit in the UAE, and the one in which he has been able to finally establish personal connections with the people of the country.
“There is such kindness, such generosity, such welcoming and modesty. We’ve enjoyed it immensely.”
Stewart is himself beloved audiences across the world for his portrayals of Captain Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and its subsequent films and Professor Charles Xavier of the “X-Men” film franchise.
A final goodbye, and a possible return
Earlier this year, Stewart portrayed Charles Xavier for the final time in “Logan” (2017), which was also the swan song for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. It was not until he finally saw the film on the big screen that he knew that this was the end, he told an enraptured DIFF audience.
“Hugh and I were sitting side by side and we were so moved by the last 15 to 20 minutes of the film. I still find it hard to watch the last 20 minutes. As the credits rolled, as Hugh gripped my hand, which he had taken about halfway through, as he was emotional as I was, I thought that there couldn’t be a better ‘au revoir’ to Charles Xavier than what I had witnessed. This was the perfect farewell to this franchise. At the next morning’s press conference, I announced, ‘me too, I’m done’.”
While Stewart has said his final goodbyes to X-Men, he also opened the door to returning to his other most famous role. It’s been more than 15 years since Stewart last played Star Trek’s beloved Captain Picard on the big screen. When the film series rebooted with a new cast and direction, many gave up hope that they would ever see the legendary actor helm the USS Enterprise again.
Stewart was quoted as late as Dec. 5 2017 saying he would never return to Star Trek. Now, something has changed his mind.
“I’ve recently heard whispers that a certain person by the name of Quentin Tarantino might be looking at some Star Trek ideas,” Stewart said “It seems improbable, doesn’t it? There’s no director on earth — yes I’d love to work with Steven Spielberg — but Tarantino is my hero. I so want to be in one of his movies. If he were to take a Tarantino-esque view of Star Trek, that might be interesting. I only recently heard these whispers.”
He would not, however, offer Tarantino any advice on how to approach the franchise.
“From my mouth, not a word. When there are masters around, I’m not going to dabble in directing. I’m going to let them get on with it. Hope they cast me!”
A look back at his younger self
Stewart was open, candid and personal with the Dubai audience, telling stories from his childhood and detailing his moments of self-doubt and the challenges he has faced in his years as an actor.
“My home life was chaotic and at times dangerous, but the stage, I found, from the moment I stepped onto it, was the safest place I had ever been,” Stewart said about his life growing up in a poor area in England. “This was for a number of reasons, none of which I knew at the time, but of course because of high class extensive therapy in Los Angeles, I know now what was going on.”
“In a play, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is planned out, and rehearsed,” Stewart went on. “There is no chaos. There are not any surprises. It is all known and predictable. Also, on stage, I was not being Patrick Stewart, of whom I didn’t have a particularly high opinion. I was someone else. I so much more enjoyed being someone else than being Patrick Stewart. It’s something of a confession, but I have to say, I still feel the same way about what I do.”
The cinema was also a place for Stewart to escape, when he was young. “The houselights would come up and it was over, and I had to quickly struggle to wipe away my tears before I got up and went into the street. I didn’t want to go back there.”
The movie that changed his life was On the Waterfront (1954), which portrayed poverty much like that he grew up in.
“I didn’t know people made movies about me or families like mine. The world that those poor people in those tenements inhabited in On the Waterfront was not very far from my world. That’s when I had the enlightenment that cinema can also be about a world that is not fantasy, that is real and dark and painful and troubling. That was an important night in my life.”
Stewart finished with a plea to the audience to learn from the mistakes he made in his career by being too afraid to fail.
“I was actually hiding for years and years, hiding because I was either afraid or didn’t believe that I had anything personal to contribute. I always listened to everybody else,” Stewart confessed.
Stewart only stopped being afraid of failure 15-20 years ago, he said.
“Now, I am so fascinated by acting as a process of inner revelation, of the emotions and feelings being my own. I’m excited about anything that anybody asks me to do, because I can explore even further this personal, private, inner life, which I can share.”


Catholic priest in Slovakia challenges celibacy rules

Updated 48 min 51 sec ago
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Catholic priest in Slovakia challenges celibacy rules

  • The book’s title is intentionally shocking and morbid: A married man can only be ordained in the church if he is a widower
  • ‘It’s a paradox. The church demonizes sexuality and keeps it under cover, and at the same time there are children abused’

KLAK, Slovakia: A priest in the conservative Roman Catholic stronghold of Slovakia has challenged the church’s celibacy rules, voicing his dissent at a time when clerical celibacy is once again a topic of debate amid ongoing sex abuse scandals.
The Rev. Michal Lajcha has written a book in two versions — one for theologians, the other for the laity — that asserts the church would benefit greatly if married men were allowed to be ordained and celibacy were made voluntary.
In “The Tragedy of Celibacy — The Death of the Wife,” Lajcha called celibacy a “festering wound” in the church and said that making it voluntary could also help prevent sex scandals.
The title is intentionally shocking and morbid: A married man can only be ordained in the church if he is a widower.
“That’s the tragedy of celibacy, the dead wife,” Lajcha told The Associated Press in an interview. Another priest, the Rev. Peter Lucian Balaz, co-authored the version of the book for theologians.
Lajcha argues that priests simply can’t understand the troubles and worries of ordinary Catholic faithful since they inhabit such a different world.
“The mission of the church is to be close to people. But how can I be close to people when I live such a radically different life?” the 34-year-old Lajcha asked. “There’s a huge abyss between the clergy and the laypeople.”
It’s a point made recently by the Vatican’s top family official, who made headlines when he said priests have “no credibility” when it comes to training others in marriage preparation, since they have no experience.
In the popular version of the book, Lajcha writes that a priest “has no worries and also no joys as those people he should take care of spiritually.”
“It’s like the difference between being on top of Mount Everest, and hearing a story about it,” he wrote of the second-hand information priests have about the lives of their flock.
To make his point, he gives the example of the night he invited several men from his parish to watch a movie about a father who sacrifices his son to save the lives of passengers on a train. After some of the men were unable to hold back tears, Lajcha said he realized how harmful his celibacy had been for him, since he was only able to grasp “a small idea” of what it was like to be a father.
Lajcha doesn’t propose the abolition of celibacy; only to make it voluntary.
His call is shared by many in the priesthood, including clergy in Ireland, Germany and the US, and prominent lay groups. They argue that the celibate priesthood is a tradition in the church dating from the 12th century, not doctrine, and therefore can be changed.
Pope Francis has made the same point, though in the 2012 book “On Heaven and Earth,” written when he was still a cardinal, he said that “for now” he favors maintaining it.
As pope, however, he has expressed an openness to ordaining married men, particularly to respond to the shortage of priests in places like the Amazon, where the faithful can go weeks at a time without Mass.
Already, married men can be ordained as eastern rite Catholic priests, and married Anglican priests can become Catholic priests if they convert.
Francis has said he wants local bishops’ conferences to come up with proposals to address the priest shortage issue, and he has paved the way for a possible change by calling a meeting of Amazon bishops for next year and decreeing just this week that their final document could become part of official church teaching.
While addressing the priest shortage, many people who favor ending the celibacy obligation also argue that it could also address another pressing issue in the church: sex abuse.
Prominent studies have found no correlation between the church’s tradition of a celibate priesthood and the explosion of clerical sex abuse in recent decades, but some experts have long made the connection.
Most notably, the late A.W. Richard Sipe — a former US priest and psychotherapist — argued that because many priests violated their celibacy vows, the issue was mired in hypocrisy and secrecy, conditions that then allowed abuse of minors to flourish.
“It’s a paradox. The church demonizes sexuality and keeps it under cover, and at the same time there are children abused,” Lajcha said. “I’m not saying that it would stop completely if we have voluntary celibacy, but we can agree that the situation would be a bit different.”
Celibacy has returned to the forefront of church debate after a prominent US cardinal was accused of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians. The scandal has uncovered evidence of the active sex lives of priests and seminarians that has long been quietly tolerated.
Lajcha, who is trying to get funding to have his book translated before the Amazon conference, said the church would have more credibility if it allowed married priests because the faithful hardly believe “we really live the life of celibacy.” That is a reference to the widespread violation of celibacy vows in places like Africa, where there are known cases of priests having multiple children.
Lajcha points to the Rev. Rudolf Klucha, who served two mountain villages that were centers of Slovakia’s uprising against the Nazis in World War II. On Jan. 21, 1945, the Nazis rounded up 300 villagers from Klak, planning to kill them all. Klucha worked to delay the killings until the troops received a different order — to destroy the village but allow the people to live.
Klucha, he said, fathered three sons and made no secret of it. Earlier this month, Lajcha unveiled a commemorative plaque to Klucha in Klak, adding: “He saved 300 lives but still remains unrecognized only because he broke the celibacy requirement.”
Since the news about the book made local headlines last week, Lajcha said he has had to change his phone number because of negative responses from fellow priests and others. His activities are unlikely to remain unnoticed by his superiors.
Slovakia’s Conference of Bishops declined a request by the AP for comment through its spokesman Martin Kramara, and so did the diocese of Banska Bystrica, to which Lajcha’s parish belongs.
Lajcha said he was prepared to leave the church, even though the priesthood fulfills him.
“I want to have a family. This is unsustainable for me,” he told the AP.
Giving up the priesthood would be sad news for some in his flock.
“Oh, God forbid to remove him!” said Olga Zubekova, 69, who on a recent day greeted him with a friend to get a signed copy of his book.
“His Masses are nice, his preaching is nice, he gets along with everyone, he’s helpful to everyone. That would be a real shame,” she said.