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Austen IvereighOctober 13, 2009

How odd. At the end of a day in which the Guardian newspaper ran a piece by me praising Michael Moore's Catholicism, I find myself having to apologize to the documentary-maker for questioning his faith.

In my post here yesterday, I ended by posing a question about something that has been nagging me, namely why Moore makes fun of Sean Hannity in a Fox News interview for failing to remember the previous Sunday's Gospel, when Moore appears to then get that Gospel wrong. What I wrote:

But there's one thing I don't understand. The Gospel which Moore teases Hannity for forgetting is Mark 10:17-27, where Jesus tells his disciples how it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven. That is the Gospel for yesterday, October 11.

But the Hannity interview went out October 6th. So the Gospel Moore should have teased Hannity for forgetting is Mark 10:2-16, on marriage.

Am I missing something? Or is it Moore, not just Hannity, who has been exposed?

It turned out I WAS missing something.

Moore's staff have been in touch with us to make clear that when Moore referred to Mark 10:17-27 he was not saying that this is what he heard in church the previous Sunday. Moore, according to the email we have received, "has frequently cited that Gospel in his media appearances recently. He wasn’t telling Hannity that this is the Gospel he heard in church the previous Sunday."

Basel Hamdan, producer at Dog Eat Dog films, adds:

You can see in the clip, at about the 3:30 mark, right before he challenges Hannity about whether Hannity attended church the previous Sunday, he said, “I believe in what Jesus said..” then he got cut off – he was about to recite Mark 10:17-27, but then got cut off and began the tit-for-tat on whether Hannity went to church or not.  After then discussing whether Hannity went to church or not, he then was able to get back to reciting Mark 10:17-27 as he’d planned on doing.

The clip is here and it is as Hamdan says: Moore does not actually say that the Mark 10 was the previous Sunday's Gospel. I was confused, because he referred to it immediately after teasing Hannity. 

Sorry, Michael. I regret appearing to question your faith and your churchgoing. I hope you'll be pleased with my defence of you on this side of the Atlantic. What I say there, based on reports about the film -- I haven't had a chance to see it -- seems to square with what Prof Thomas Massaro SJ (who has seen it) concludes in his review:

If we want a serious ethical analysis of economic systems and their shortcomings, we will be better off reading the latest papal social encyclical. But anyone wanting a vivid illustration of the principles found in such documents would do well to see Michael Moore’s exposé of the ways of greed and his defense of the little guy in our contemporary economy.

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