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Vatican ends controversy on Mel Gibson film publicity

There has been no let up in the controversy of the claimed support of Pope John Paul for Mel Gibson's film. Yesterday the Vatican issued an authoritative press statement to end the speculation confirming the Pope has seen the film but saying: "It is the Holy Father's custom not to express public judgments on artistic works, judgments which are always open to diverse evaluations of an aesthetic nature."

The matter has turned into a public relations' nightmare not only for the Vatican (see the coverage we referred to earlier this week at the link below) but also for Mel Gibson's company, Icon Productions.

In summary the position would now appear to be that the Pope did see the film and he did say the comment that was attributed to him but it was meant purely as private comment and not for public consumption. The sources below give good summaries of the controversy.

The Daily Telegraph - Pope silent on Gibson film
World Net Daily - Is pope passionate about Gibson film?
CWN - Vatican public-relations debacle on Gibson's "Passion"
VIS - Holy Father has seen Mel Gibson's film "The Passion" (Note: CathNews receives the advance email from VIS. The press statement will not be online when CathNews is first published but should appear there later today.)

CNS - Second Catholic news agency critical of Vatican communications

23 Jan 2004