In spite of his suffering, Roger Ebert reportedly claimed to be unable to believe in God.

Ebert said of his faith, “I consider myself Catholic, lock, stock and barrel, with this technical loophole: I cannot believe in God.” Despite his Catholic upbringing, Ebert said he has long struggled with God’s existence.

In a April 2009 blog, Ebert noted that though his wife’s faith was strong, he has found that over time “the reality of God was no longer present in my mind.”

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Movie Critic Roger Ebert Dies at 70 Following Battle with Cancer. He is Catholic.

Famed movie critic Roger Ebert died Thursday in Chicago after battling cancer. He was 70.

An opinionated writer, but also a movie fan, Ebert reviewed films for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years. He is perhaps best known, however, for his 31 years reviewing films on television.

Ebert experienced health problems over the past ten years, suffering illnesses including thyroid cancer and cancer of the salivary gland. In 2006 he lost part of his lower jaw, but — as his obituary in the Sun-Times points out — it didn’t drive him out of the spotlight.

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Film Critic Roger Ebert waxes fondly about his Catholic roots

…In my childhood the Church arched high above everything. I was awed by its ceremonies. Years later I agreed completely with Pauline Kael when she said that the three greatest American directors of the 1970s–Scorsese, Altman and Coppola–had derived much of their artistic richness from having grown up in the pre-Vatican Two era of Latin, incense, mortal sins, indulgences, dire sufferings in hell, Gregorian chant, and so on. Protestants and even Jews were victims, I suppose, of sensory deprivation.

The parish priest was the greatest man in the town. Our priest was Fr. J. W. McGinn, who was a good and kind man and not given to issuing fiery declarations from the pulpit. Of course in Catholic grade school I took the classes for altar boys. We learned by heart all the Latin of the Mass, and I believe I could serve Mass to this day. There was something satisfying about the sound of Latin.

Introibo ad altare Dei.
Ad Deum qui laitificat juventutem meum.

“I will go to the altar of God. The God who gives joy to my youth.” There was a “thunk” to the syllables, measured and confident, said aloud the way they looked. We learned in those classes when you stood. When you knelt. When you sat during the reading of scripture and the sermon. When you rang the bell, when you brought the water and wine. How to carefully hold the paten under the chins of communicants so a fragment of Holy Eucharist would not go astray. Later, there were dress rehearsals on the St. Pat’s altar.

For years I served early Mass one morning a week, riding my bike to church and then onward to St. Mary’s for the start of the school day. On First Fridays, the Altar and Rosary Society supplied coffee, hot chocolate and sweet rolls in the basement of the rectory. When you served at a wedding, the best man was expected to tip you fifty cents. When you served at a funeral you kept a very straight face. During Lent there were the Stations of the Cross, the priest and servers moving around the church to pause in front of artworks depicting Christ’s progress toward Calvary. Walking from one station to the next, we intoned the verses of a dirge.

At the cross, her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

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