Priest-Father of Genetics Subject of Film

"Gardener of God" Presented in Rome

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By Carmen Elena Villa



ROME, DEC. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The priest-scientist who discovered genetics would be abhorred by the modern usage of his discoveries that leads to the genetic selection of humans, says the director of a film on the life of Father Gregor Mendel.

"The Gardener of God," written and directed by Liana Marabini, stars Christopher Lambert. The Condor Pictures film was presented today at Rome's Regina Apostolorum university.

Lambert recounted to ZENIT his experience of playing the role of the 19th-century Augustinian monk.

"I studied much about Mendel before playing the role," he said. "I admire his faith and his conviction. The garden was his passion and thus he made one of science's greatest discoveries."

"Mendel understood that his discovery was dangerous," noted the actor.

The film shows Mendel's concern about the possible use of genetics when in one moment, he tells his brothers in the monastery, "I hope this discovery will never be applied to select the human being."

Marabini stated that "what is happening with genetics would certainly be condemned by Mendel. Things are done which are aberrant. The Church is consistent with her teaching."

The director pointed to another modern development that wouldn't have fit into the life of Mendel: the belief that faith and science are opposed.

"I was interested in his double mission of priest and scientist," Marabini said in explaining why she wrote the script. "Scientists who believe in God have changed the history of the world and Mendel belonged to this category."

The film writer added that she based herself on several documents of the monastery of Brunn and on private collections containing letters from the monk. The preparation of the filming lasted a year and the total cost was €6 million.

Didactic

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, was at the launch of the film.

The archbishop classified the production as "didactic," telling ZENIT that "it makes one see a delicate subject such as the dialogue between faith and science."

The cast includes Maria Pia Ruspoli, who plays Princess Von Limburg, and Anja Kruse, who plays Countess Von Bauman, a woman who tries in vain to seduce the monk.

The film also shows a meeting between Mendel and Pope Pius IX.
 
The production seeks to accentuate Father Mendel's priestly vocation, in particular his bond with Jesus and his love of the Church, as well as his pastoral qualities.

The director and actors spoke to those at the presentation of their endeavor to present the figure of this priest and scientist, who from a very early age was convinced that the forces of nature act according to a secret harmony, which can be discovered with intuition, patience and intelligence, for the good of the human being and the glory of God.

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