(Catholic Online) – Within days of the worldwide film release of “The Da Vinci Code,” Catholic bishops and organizations throughout the world have launched pre-emptive strikes to warn Christians of the promotion of beliefs at odds with Catholic Church doctrine.
The “Da Vinci Code” is “an attack on the divinity of Jesus Christ,” launched merely “for love of money,” said Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, Philippines, noting his hope that the film serve as “a moment of evangelical and catechetical grace” across the country.
In a pastoral letter addressed to the clergy and Philippine fatihful, the cardinal described The Da Vinci Code and the movie of the same name as a “an immoral attack against the divinity of Christ,” calling on the Catholic community to transform the negative situation by “creating study groups and inviting the faithful to reflection about Jesus, our only savior.”
“Let us take this occasion to convert the cinema industry's money-motive production into a pastoral challenge, an evangelization and catechetical moment of grace,” he said.
The archbishop of Birmingham, England, attacked the “fanciful themes and deliberate untruths” of The Da Vinci Code May 14, 2006.
"The Da Vinci Code gratuitously insults Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church," said Archbishop Vincent Nichols in a statement.
"I have read The Da Vinci Code from cover to cover. It deliberately presents fiction as fact. It distorts history, falsifies theology and gratuitously insults the person of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.”
"I have no intention of going to see the film when it is released later this week. I urge those who do see the film not to be taken in by its fanciful themes and deliberate untruths."
"I ask them to remember that The Da Vinci Code tells them nothing at all about the truth of Jesus Christ, the Christian faith or the Catholic Church."
"During his time on earth, Christ suffered insults and mockery with patience in order to show the truth of his unwavering love for all,” he said. “This continues to be true today.”
The Scottish Catholic Bishops Conference Media Office scheduled to release a DVD May 18 which aims to tackle many of the myths and misinformation contained in the bestselling book and soon-to-be-blockbuster film.
Titled "Cracking the Da Vinci Code," the release comprises resources and information, including a lecture by Pat Reilly, professor emeritus of English literature at Glasgow University, which provides a critique of the literary style and theological content of the book.
"I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry: laugh at the sheer fatuous absurdity of this farrago of nonsense or weep for the state of contemporary culture which has made the author of this ineptly written drivel a multimillionaire," Reilly said.
The DVD is to be distributed to all 62 Catholic secondary schools in Scotland the week of the film’s release, and advertising posters and order forms have been sent to all of Scotland's some 500 Catholic parishes.
"The church in preparing this resource is simply responding to reports that many Christians having read The Da Vinci Code felt their faith weakened or threatened by it,” said Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office. “To those left feeling unsure about their religious beliefs we offer facts in place of fiction and reassurance on the basic truths of their faith. We hope people find this useful and see the release of the film as an opportunity to widen awareness of the Christian gospels rather than a threat."
Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, India, added his voice to those opposed to the release of "The Da Vinci Code."
The archbishop branded it as a vicious attack on the divinity of Jesus Christ and as such it is diabolic.
“Anything that distorts the long cherished truth and affects the religious sentiments has to be condemned outright, and this novel unfortunately builds erroneous impressions against the Catholic Church and the Christian faith,” he said, urging the film to be banned.
“It cannot be denied that fiction shapes the imagination, stirs emotions and forms mental associations,” he said. Author “Dan Brown has created the impression that his fiction is historical fact.”
The novel and the film should be seen as a challenge for the Catholic Church to be more zealous in sharing the good news of Christ and work to convert the cinema industry's money-motive production, he said.
The church, he said, should be “appealing to publishers and people in media to practice their profession responsibly with uncompromising respect for the truth, especially about persons and beliefs that are dear to various religions and faith communities; to collaborate with historians, scholars of the arts, and scientists in shaping a culture with depth and integrity; and imbue the evangelizing mission with renewed vigor, methods and expressions so that people who are earnestly seeking the truth about Jesus may encounter him.”
Two Australian archbishops warned Catholics to remember the central claims of the book and the film are fictional.
Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart said he would leave it to people to make a mature judgment about whether or not to watch the movie, but they should be sure of their facts, reported the newspaper The Age.
The Da Vinci Code is a story with an intriguing plot, but "it goes to the heart of the Catholic religion because it makes allegations which are not in any way substantiated by fact," he said.
"It will be hurtful to a lot of Christians. The church has not tried to suppress anything, Jesus was not married, he is God. People should read the gospels to discover the truth about Jesus," he said.
Archbishop Philip Wilson, the newly elected president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, rejected calls to boycott the movie, saying people should consider seeing the movie but take it as a fictional story, according to the Australian Associated Press.
“Much ado about very little,” said SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, in a release May 17, after the journalists’ pre-release screening in Cannes, France, the previous day.
The association of communications professionals from 140 countries said that “far from being a cinema masterpiece, the film is simply a popular entertainment” that will disappoint many cinemagoers.
“The Da Vinci Code” “is something that no one need be afraid of,” the association said. “It is a personal or a commercial venture.”
“The novel attempted to persuade its readers that some dubious hypotheses and some mumbo-jumbo theories; the film wants rather to please everyone and not upset them too much,” the group said.
“The media controversy which followed the publication of the novel has led to an enormous impact from the promotion campaigns for the film. We hope that the church can benefit from this phenomenon in explaining the theological foundations of faith and the hopes of all Christians.”
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.