Priest is about Father Greg Pilkington (Linus Roache), assigned to inner-city Liverpool, who is early on shocked at the revelation that fellow Father Matthew Thomas is engaged in a sexual relationship with the rectory housekeeper. Nevertheless, Thomas is well-known as a radical left-wing member of the church, who clashes constantly with his Bishop.
In truth, Pilkington, though offended by Thomas’ outright lack of celibacy, is struggling with his own issues of sexuality, especially in regards to his feelings towards men. After he meets Graham at a local gay hangout, he can no longer control himself, and embarks on a physical relationship.
At the same time, Pilkington learns of the sexual abuse of a young girl by her father through the confessional, confirmed by the father, and is torn due to his duty to uphold the Sacrament of Penance to not reveal what he’s been told to any others.
The mother of this girl soon discovers her husband abusing her daughter again, and realizes that Pilkington knew about it, and lashes out at him for it. Immediately after, he’s arrested for having sex with Graham in a parked car, causing massive fallout and making him decide to move to a rural area, although he returns to the same church shortly after. While attempting to distribute the Eucharist, the parishioners ignore Pilkington and line up to only receive from Thomas. The mother approaches Pilkington, and the two fall into a tearful embrace.
“This film is extraordinary for the themes it explores — sometimes with delicious humor — beyond the obvious. It’s one thing to see a man struggle to find himself, another for a film to carry the fight to a luminous moment that brings that struggle into the larger world where differing visions of truths contend.”
—Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle
Did You Know?
Priest received very vocal condemnation from the church, with the Catholic Church in Ireland in particular calling for a ban on theatrical distribution. This marked the first major disagreement between the Church and the Irish Film Censor Board, who decided to release it anyway. Other Catholic organizations were in an uproar over its release during Easter weekend, calling for a widespread boycott on all things Disney. Review our Gay Themed Films Here