Vatican official praises Mel Gibson's The Passion
A senior Vatican official who watched clips from Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion" offered enthusiastic praise at the weekend for what he saw.
Many conservative Christians say the unreleased film powerfully depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus' life. But Jewish leaders say the work suggests that Jews were responsible for the death of Christ, and could trigger anti-Semitic attacks.
President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop John Foley, said he hoped to show the film in the Vatican and said he doubted whether criticisms of the film were valid.
"From what I could see of the trailers, it seemed to be an excellent film," Foley said. "I don't think they would be well-founded criticisms because all the material in the film comes directly from the Gospel accounts. There's nothing in the film that doesn't come from the Gospel accounts."
Gibson spent nearly $45.2 million to produce the movie, which is expected to be released early next year. Gibson has defended his work as faithful to the Gospels and said it is intended "to inspire, not offend."
The Church formally rejected Jewish culpability in Christ's death nearly 40 years ago.
Gibson is a member of an ultraconservative Catholic movement that rejects the Vatican's authority over the church.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is one of several Jewish groups and leaders to speak out against The Passion. Last month, the organisation, which works to bring Nazis to justice, urged Gibson to make changes to his film.
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' (Newsmax.com)
16 Sep 2003