Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Pope Gives 'The Passion' Thumbs-Up

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Pope Gives 'The Passion' Thumbs-Up

Article excerpt

Pope John Paul II has given a thumbs-up to Mel Gibson's controversial new film "The Passion of the Christ," a senior Vatican official told NCR Dec. 17.

"The Holy Father watched and enjoyed the film," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity "His comment afterwards was, 'It is as it was.'"

The official said the remark meant that the pope regards the film as a faithful depiction of the suffering and death of Christ as described in the New Testament.

Officially, Vatican spokespersons have so far refused to comment on whether or not the pope has seen the film. The senior official who spoke to NCR, however, confirmed that the pope watched a videocassette provided by the film's producers.

While spokespersons have in the past identified certain films that John Paul has watched and enjoyed--including "Gandhi," "Life is Beautiful" and "Schindler's List"--in general the Vatican is hesitant to comment publicly on the pope's reactions for fear of being seen as issuing a commercial endorsement.

"The Passion of the Christ," which is scheduled for release on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, has drawn fire from some critics for alleged anti-Semitism in its portrayal of Jews involved in the death of Christ. Defenders, however, say the film simply depicts events as described in the Gospels.

The pope's positive reaction builds on a series of good reviews from other Vatican officials who have watched "The Passion" during a series of Rome screenings. …

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