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Pell praise for Mel Gibson Jesus flick

Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has endorsed Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ, describing it as a "work of faith".

The Catholic Weekly reports that the cardinal said the film, to be released on Ash Wednesday, is "a beautiful production" and "truly based on the Gospels".

He also said the controversial work, which vividly depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus, is not anti-Semitic. The script relies on narratives of the passion and death of Christ taken from the four Gospels.

Cardinal Pell said he's enthusiastic about the production, although he was not sure whether the screening he saw recently was the final version in every detail. He has undertaken to spell out his impressions of the film in some detail.

"I will be writing about the film to explain my enthusiasm," Cardinal Pell said.

Pope John Paul II reportedly reacted with similar delight when he saw the film, but the Vatican moved quickly to deny the authenticity of praise purported to come from the Holy Father when the promoters used his enthusiasm to plug the film.

Gibson's Passion 'work of faith', says cardinal (Catholic Weekly 15/2/04)

Vatican ends controversy on Mel Gibson film publicity (CathNews 23/1/04)
Catholics cautioned about reaction to "The Passion of the Christ" (Chicago Tribune/Koenig's International News 10/2/04)
Churches queue for Mel Gibson's Passion (CathNews 6/2/04)
Gibson snips controversial scene from The Passion (CathNews 5/2/04)
Gibson to Delete a Scene in 'Passion' (New York Times 4/2/04)
Mystery of Pope's 'approval' of Gibson film (The Guardian 24/1/04)
Vatican ends controversy on Mel Gibson film publicity (CathNews 23/1/04)
Campaign to counter Gibson film planned (USA Today/Associated Press 2/2/04)
Campaign to counter Gibson film (Herald-Sun 3/2/04)
Gibson's heavy cross to bear (Sydney Morning Herald 4/2/04)
The Passion of the Christ (official website)
The Passion of the Christ: Icon Film Distribution Australia

11 Feb 2004