Actor Gibson's olive branch to US bishops
Actor-director Mel Gibson paid a quick visit to the US bishops' headquarters building in Washington on Monday, a month after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Gibson's Icon Productions were involved in a confrontation over Gibson's new movie The Passion.
Gibson met with Monsignor William Fay, the Bishops' Conference general secretary.
"It was a surprise visit," said Fay, who had been notified of Gibson's arrival about an hour before it happened. "He wanted the visit to make clear that there was not" any animosity, he said of Gibson.
The dispute centered on the use of what Icon Productions said were unauthorised copies of a draft script used by a group of Catholic and Jewish scholars to critique the screenplay.
"I thought I was having a private meeting," Monsignor Fay exclaimed when he saw 20 employees, most of them female, huddling around the 47-year-old Gibson for an autograph.
Gibson was in Washington to oversee a screening of The Passion, which Gibson financed with his own money. The film, whose dialogue is entirely in Latin and Aramaic with no subtitles, has yet to find a distributor.
The same day as Gibson's visit, William Donohue of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights criticised a scholarly essay in The New Republic which takes a dim view of Gibson's film.
"The script, when we got it, shocked us," wrote Boston University scripture professor Paula Fredriksen, who is author of Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, a historical study of the last 12 hours of Jesus' life.
"We pinpointed its historical errors and -- again, since Gibson has so trumpeted his own Catholicism -- its deviations from magisterial principles of biblical interpretation," she said.
Catholic News Service
Gibson film stirs passionate debate (Globe and Mail)
Mel Gibson's 'The Passion' (WorldNet Daily)
Gibson's film about Jesus raises Jews' fears (AP)
[Mel Gibson's Jesus] Not everybody's messiah (Chris McGillion, Sydney Morning Herald)
24 Jul 2003