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Vatican officials attend private screening of Gibson's 'The Passion'

Just days after Mel Gibson refused to allow his film The Passion of the Christ to be shown at a Vatican-sponsored film festival, several Vatican officials were invited to private screenings in Rome and a copy was sent to Pope John Paul II.

It was not known if the pope has watched the film, but it was shown in a small screening room in Rome last Thursday, and again on Saturday, to invited guests that included Pontifical Council for Social Communications President Archbishop John P. Foley and undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Father Augustine DiNoia.

Gibson, whose film is set for release on Ash Wednesday, turned down a request for a private screening of the film at a conference that was part of a film festival co-sponsored by the Vatican.

Fr DiNoia said what he saw was still incomplete, but nonetheless "powerful", and not anti-Semitic.

"By the end of the film," he said, "the only thing you are thinking about is your soul."

But another Vatican official who saw the film found the film too violent.

"You cannot use Christ's passion the way other brutal, violent films do to make an impression on an audience," he said. "You cannot use the passion of Christ to provoke a reaction."

Vatican officials attend private screening of Gibson's 'The Passion' (Catholic News Service 9/12/03)

Gibson film moves Billy Graham to tears (CathNews 27/11/03)
The Passion of the Christ (official website)
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Gospel according to Mel (National Catholic Reporter 28/11/03)
Fr Peter Malone: A Catholic analysis of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion' (Independent Catholic News 12/11/03)
Cardinal Kasper denies Vatican endorsing Gibson movie (26/9/03)
Vatican official praises Mel Gibson's The Passion (16/9/03)

11 Dec 2003