British team warns against Da Vinci Code "trap"

An unofficial British Catholic "team," formed to respond to The Da Vinci Code, has warned Church groups against boycotting the movie version of the book, as it will lead into a "trap laid by Dan Brown".

According to Catholic Online, The Da Vinci Code Response Group, in a statement that appeared on the Independent Catholic News website, said that the book have led to the deception of many people that "is likely to be reinforced by the film" version, but warned against a boycott of the movie.

The group believes that "condemnations, boycotts and protests" are counterproductive, as they lead "into the trap laid by Dan Brown: that the church is on the defensive because it is engaged in a cover up."

The ad hoc group, coordinated by Austen Ivereigh, director for public affairs of the Archdiocese of Westminster, includes as members a Benedictine abbot, priests and lay people working in communications, theologians and academics and Opus Dei members.

"The Da Vinci Code is fiction trading as fact," the group said, adding that the book "is fun and harmless in so far as it is treated as fiction."

Endorsing calls for the Sony Corporation to include a disclaimer stating the movie is a work of fiction, the response group said its release "has presented the church with a positive opportunity to discuss the key tenets of our faith."

Pointing to "the yawning gap between fact and fiction," the group singled out the suggestion of the existence of the Priory of Sion as an example of misinformation purported to be true, noting that it was the creation of "an elaborate 1950s hoax."

As well, the claim that the early church did not believe in the divinity of Jesus is not supported by the gospels, St Paul's epistles and the writings of church fathers in the second and third centuries, the group added.

"We don't take the book and the film seriously. But we do take The Da Vinci Code's readers and its future viewers seriously," the group said in its statement.

"Insofar as it is taken seriously, The Da Vinci Code gives a damaging and grotesque version of Jesus, the church, Opus Dei and the history of Christianity."

The Da Vinci Code Response Group said that right to artistic freedom needs to be balanced by the respect for the beliefs of others. "It is not enough to hide behind the claim that the novel is fiction," the group said. "Even as fiction, art has a responsibility to the truth."

For those planning to see the movie, the group urged people to "enjoy themselves, but do not believe anything in it," adding that "the story of the real Jesus is much more compelling than the gospel according to Dan Brown."

Meanwhile Sydney Opus Dei priest Fr John Flader advises that he strongly recommends that Catholics do not attend screenings of the film.

A recent CathNews report of his views was interpreted by some as an endorsement of the film. The report quoted an interview on the ABC's Religion Report in which he said that the film has merit as a "thriller", but it remains riddled with historical errors.

The report was misleadingly headed "Opus Dei priest says it's OK to see The Da Vinci Code"

He stressed in an email to CathNews this week: "I did not recommend that anyone go to see it, nor did I say it would be OK to see it."

'Da Vinci Code' a deception trading on fiction as fact, British response team says (Catholic Online 10/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Opus Dei
The Da Vinci Code - an invitation to learn the truth (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Deciphering Da Vinci (Catholic Australia)
Jesus Decoded (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
The Da Vinci Code (Sony Pictures)
Catholic Adult Education Centre

Scholars setting record straight on Mary Magdalene (CathNews 3/5/06)
Opus Dei priest says it's OK to see The Da Vinci Code (CathNews 28/4/06)

Devil's in film detail (Daily Telegraph/news.com.au 12/5/06)
Opus Dei strikes back before "Da Vinci Code" movie (Reuters 11/5/06)
Opus Dei releases founder's 'The Way' ahead of 'Da Vinci Code' opening (Catholic News Agency 11/5/06)
CBCI Demands Ban On Two Controversial Films Affecting The Christian Community (Catholic Bishops Conference of India 11/5/06)
Three years with the Da Vinci Code (Opus Dei 11/5/06)
Da Vinci door open to Kiwi Catholics (Dominion Post/stuff.co.nz 12/5/06)
As premiere of 'Code' nears, Catholic leaders urge caution (The Tidings 12/5/06)
Evidence' missing: expert (The Record 11/5/06)
India Catholics target Da Vinci (BBC 10/5/06)
Cardinals say 'The Da Vinci Code' shows contempt for Christianity (Catholic News Service 9/5/06)
Da Vinci Code 'insult' (Catholic Weekly 14/5/06)
Code success shows religious ignorance, prelates say (Catholic World News 10/5/06)
Howard laughs off disclaimer calls (Irish Times 9/5/06)
Opus Dei, Ron Howard at odds over 'Da Vinci Code' (Reuters 9/5/06)
'The Da Vinci Code' shows contempt for Christianity, error packed, cardinals say (Catholic News Service/Catholic Online 9/5/06)
Churches ignore fuss (The Courier Mail 10/5/06)
Mumbai Catholics launch campaign against Da Vinci movie (Indian Catholic 9/5/06)
Catholics form Da Vinci film team (BBC 8/5/06)
Catholics urged to fight Da Vinci Code (Herald-Sun 9/5/06)
Debate: The Da Vinci Code - cracking or cracked? (Independent Catholic News 8/5/06)
Da Vinci Code is blasphemy: cardinal (Sydney Morning Herald/Reuters 8/5/06)
Cardinal [Arinze] urges legal action against Da Vinci Code (Reuters 7/5/06)
Vatican prelate ponders legal action on Da Vinci Code (Catholic World News 5/5/06)
Statement by Da Vinci Code Response Group (Independent Catholic News 5/5/06)
Scholars braced for release of Da Vinci Code film (Irish Times 4/5/06)
English Catholic group opposes Da Vinci film boycott (Reuters 4/5/06)

12 May 2006