Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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benghazi20160115T1212 1493 CNS MOVIE REVIEW 800John Krasinski stars in a scene from the movie "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi." (CNS photo/Paramount)

NEW YORK (CNS) – Some might fear, simply from reading its title, that "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" (Paramount) would turn out to be little more than a rehash of the congressional hearings on the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya.

In reality, the film is a gripping, fact-based account of what happened on the ground when the U.S. consulate in the titular city was overrun, and four American lives – most prominently that of Ambassador Chris Stevens – were lost.

Michael Bay, who knows a things or two about action thrillers ("The Rock," "Armageddon" and the "Transformers" franchise), directs at a furious pace. His task is to dramatize the eyewitness accounts of six security operatives documented in the 2014 book by Mitchell Zuckoff.

Partisan political views and conspiracy theories are deliberately set aside, in favor of highlighting the courage and selflessness of unsung heroes who put themselves in harm's way to save lives.

Jack Da Silva (John Krasinski), a former Navy SEAL, arrives in Benghazi as part of a band of security consultants hired to defend a top-secret CIA base. They're a gruff, buff bunch of apparently hard-bitten-military vets who go by such nicknames as "Rone" (James Badge Dale), "Oz" (Max Martini), "Tanto" (Pablo Schreiber), "Boon" (David Denman), and "Tig" (Dominic Fumusa).

Predictably, however, they're all softies at heart – family men who call their loved ones often with reassuring pledges that they'll return home safely.

A visit to the area by Tripoli-based Stevens (Matt Letscher) presents the group with a serious challenge. The local diplomatic compound, just one mile from their CIA base, has minimum security. Stevens, though, is upbeat and optimistic, preferring to build bridges instead of fences.

Jack and his colleagues express concern, but are rebuffed by their boss, an official identified only as "Bob" (David Costabile).

"The truth is, there is no real threat here," Bob says.

Such thinking is so disastrously wrongheaded, Tanto is driven to observe: "You can't tell the good guys from the bad guys."

And so we come to the fateful 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The day unfolds quietly, but as soon as night falls the consulate is besieged by gunmen and set ablaze.

From their nearby vantage point, Jack and the others watch in horror. Yet they're prevented from staging a rescue by Bob. Repeated calls to the Pentagon and the State Dept. requesting air support go unanswered.

As the full extent of the carnage is revealed, including the death of Stevens, Rone rallies his team to defy Bob and enter the fray. Over the long hours that follow, these six men are the first and only line of defense against a growing mob on a murderous rampage.

As it chronicles a modern-day Battle of the Alamo, "13 Hours" is awash in sometimes bloody mayhem. To Bay's credit, however, the violence is never gratuitous.

Instead it registers as an integral part of the events his movie is recounting, a tragedy that apparently could have been avoided, had someone – anyone – in authority responded in a timely and adequate manner.

While "13 Hours" is not an appropriate choice for casual moviegoers of any age, its thematic significance and real-world resonance are such that even many adults who would normally shun a picture showcasing so much armed conflict may decide, on balance, to see this one.

The film contains constant graphic war violence, including gunfire, explosions, and gore, brief sexual banter and some profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Mr. McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.