Magazine article The Christian Century

Priest Who Ministered to Gibson Is Disciplined

Magazine article The Christian Century

Priest Who Ministered to Gibson Is Disciplined

Article excerpt

A Toronto-area Catholic priest who served as spiritual adviser to Mel Gibson during filming of The Passion of the Christ has been suspended by Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of Toronto, for celebrating the Latin mass for a conservative Catholic splinter group.

Stephen Somerville celebrated daily mass in Latin, with Gibson acting as his altar server, when the movie was filmed in Italy last year, reports the Toronto Star. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the film, also attended the 7:30 a.m. services most days before filming.

News of the suspension came about the same time the home version of the box-office hit went on sale September 1, selling 4.1 million copies of the DVD in the first day.

Somerville, who was a priest in the Toronto archdiocese for 48 years and who has strongly defended the movie against charges that it and Gibson are anti-Semitic, was suspended by Ambrozic for celebrating mass in Toronto for the Society of St. Pius X, a group that the cardinal and the Vatican's ecclesiastical commission consider "not in full communion with Rome. …

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