Asia: Mel Gibson film is huge success

Source: FSSPX News


In Manilla, in the Philippines, a pirate DVD of The Passion costs between 70 and 100 pesos (less than 2 US$). In this country, the appeal of the film has been intensified, by the fact that the bishops have declared themselves publicly in favor. Invited to a preview of the film, Mgr. Fernando Capalla, archbishop of Davao and president of the Bishops Conference, invited people, “whatever their confession”, to see the film, in order to learn of the sufferings endured by Christ. The archbishop of Manilla, Mgr. Gaudencio Rosales, and the archbishop of Cebu, Cardinal Vidal, have also recommended the film in the context of Holy Week, advising parents, however, not to allow their children to see it.

In South Korea, where children under 15 are prohibited from seeing the film, its success has been instantaneous. Around 700,000 people saw it in 161 auditoria, on April 3 and 4. The proportion of pre-reservations was 63%, that is the highest rate of all the films, to date. Invited to a preview, Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan and Mgr. Nicholas Cheong Jin-Suk, his successor as archbishop of Seoul, appreciated the film, considering that it would give Christians the possibility of meditating on the spirituality of the Passion, and following Jesus. For the secretary of the Commission for Social Communications of the Bishops Conference, Fr. Ignatius Kim Min-soo, the film was “excellent teaching material”.

In the People’s Republic of China, copies of the DVD, subtitled in English, are being offered for sale in the cities, in large numbers. According to some witnesses, buyers who had merely wanted to improve their English, were, however, asking to find out more about Christianity, after having seen the film. In Peking cathedral, screenings of the film were organized inside the church, prior to Holy Week. Some priests were afraid that young people would be able to see the film, unaccompanied by people sufficiently qualified to explain the meaning of the violence, accepted out of love, by Christ.

In Malaysia, the film was banned and the Office of film censorship let the distributor know, that private showings in churches were also banned. The reasons given for this ban refer to the “religious sensitivity” of the Malaysians. A country whose population is around 60% Muslim, Malaysia has a rule forbidding all films or images showing the prophets. Jesus is considered by the Koran to be a prophet. The Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Mgr. Murphy Pakiam, deplored this decision – however he did not challenge it. In the streets, pirate copies of the film were selling for 8 ringgits (approx. 2 US$).

According to the agency RU, the film is enjoying unexpected success in the Arab countries. For instance, in Qatar (600,000 inhabitants), where Islam is the state religion, The Passion has been showing in every cinema, since March 23. Thousands of Muslims have seen it, intrigued by the accusations made in the West, of the film’s anti-Semitism. Many were surprised and moved, not by the alleged anti-Semitism, but by the love of Jesus. There were veiled women in the audiences. What touched the Muslims most, was the inconceivable charity of Jesus towards his enemies. According to the Austrian Catholic press agency, Kath.Net, Christians of the Arab world have said that the Gospel message has never been announced to the Muslims in such a comprehensive manner.