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Cardinal Kasper denies Vatican endorsing Gibson movie

A New York-based Jewish weekly is reporting that the Vatican is distancing itself from the comments of two of its officials who recently praised the controversial Mel Gibson movie The Passion.

Forward magazine reports that Cardinal Walter Kasper, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, wrote to the Anti-Defamation League last weekend to say that any endorsements of the film from top church leaders represent "purely personal" views that bear "no official status".

Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, and head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications told the Italian daily La Stampa last week that all priests and Christians should see the film. Head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications Archbishop John Foley also praised The Passion.

The comments by the Vatican officials have fueled speculation that the Holy See had endorsed the views of the movie. Some observers argue the film is anti-Semitic in that it promotes the idea of collective Jewish responsibility for Jesus' death, which Vatican II repudiated.

Foreward magazine says Cardinal Kasper told Jewish leaders that the film was an American issued that should be handled by the US Conference of Bishops. But the furor provoked by the comments from Foley and Hoyos have forced Kasper to speak out publicly.

Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, the communications director of the bishops' conference, told the Forward that the body would review and take a position on the film only when it is released.

Kasper wrote in his letter that no official position will be taken until church officials in Rome see the film.


Vatican official praises Mel Gibson's The Passion (16/9/03)
Pontifical Council for Social Communications
Simon Wiesenthal Centre | SWC urges Mel Gibson to make changes to The Passion
Vatican praises Gibson's film on life of Jesus despite fears of Jewish groups (Scotland on Sunday)
Gibson guided by 'Holy Ghost' (Sydney Morning Herald 2/7/03)
Mel's latest may be too violent for box office success (Irish Examiner)
Mel's graphic passion (Herald-Sun)
Passion Play (Michael Novak in The Weekly Standard)
Fox Declines Mel Gibson's 'Passion' (

26 Sep 2003