Condemnations of the Da Vinci Code novel and movie

Source: FSSPX News


On May 18, 2006, Mgr Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke up again on Radio Vatican to denounce the book by Dan Brown as well as Ron Howard’s movie. Behind the Da Vinci Code is hidden a "veritable defamation against the Catholic Church", declared the secretary. And if the Church is thus attacked, it is because she is "the only entity which truly defends such values as life and the family" and the only one to make her voice heard. "It is a fact that today you can get away with speaking ill of the pope, as it is being done in Germany with that satirical cartoon [Popetown, see DICI n_ 136]", but you cannot get away with falsifying the history of Christianity, stated Mgr Amato.

Why does the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith take no measure against this best-seller? – The book, in my opinion, is not worth that much – the Churches and Christian communities must raised their voices more to defend their faith, concluded Mgr Amato. The prelate, who had called for a boycott of the Da Vinci Code movie, had declared that the novel and the film are full of calumnies,  offenses, historical and theological errors."

Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, declared that, thanks to religious ignorance "a novel or a saga quickly becomes a film yielding enormous profits, and in view of these it seems that the most elementary rules of common sense and professional  deontology are forgotten".

The Osservatore Romano, in its May 24 edition, under the header "Much ado for nothing" explained that the "fuss" accompanying the release of Ron Howard’s movie was "deafening" and disturbing. And it went on to denounce the "laborious" marketing strategy which is "probably the most gigantic strategy behind the sale of a book and a movie that we have known in the last decades".

"You do not even have to justify what is obvious: it is an invasion of preparatory publicity to create a suspense… without any work at the end", adds Franco Patruno. About the film itself, the journalist from the Osservatore says:  After a "captivating beginning" which does not last more than "12 minutes", you have to wait for another 140 minutes "before getting to the end." "The producer, much to our misfortune, wanted to stick to the book" without sparing us many "boring moments". Franco Patruno described "theaters filled with many youngsters about 13 to 14 years old". "The expectation is quite impressive: they have been conditioned by the media, and now, out of curiosity, they flock to the movie theaters as if they were expecting to find the goal of their existence."


Various reactions throughout the world

In Italy, in the village of Ceccano, two priests burnt copies of Dan Brown’s novel in public.

In Switzerland, Beat Müller, spokesman for the Opus Dei, answered the questions put to him by CIPA agency: "The film mainly plays on emotions: the Church and the Opus Dei appear as institutions absolutely contemptible." "…The film tries to stick as closely as possible to the book, and this is bad for it, because the longwinded instructions of Teabing and Langdon are not adapted to the cinematographic language. Besides, a spectator who does not know the book by heart will always have a harder time to follow the inconstant development of this two-hour-and-a-half  movie." "The film will probably fall into oblivion on June 9, when begins the Soccer World Cup, which is much more exciting.  But there are also many people who seriously consider the question of the faith, the history of the Church and the truth of the Opus Dei, and this is a cause for rejoicing. Our website for instance, is registering millions of visits. Maybe, all this is a conspiracy  from the Holy Ghost to force us, Christians, out of our prudent reserve?"

In Belgium, the bishops declared that the Da Vinci Code was a fiction and should be considered as such. "However, fictions do have an influence on mentalities. So it is useful to recall that the story is not based on any serious historical foundation. We hope that the release of this film will give to many the desire to know more about the history of Christianity."

Thus, what is to be feared is not so much the film, but rather "the lack of religious culture in so many of our contemporaries, Catholics included. Luckily, the means to get information on Catholicism and  a Catholic formation, have never been so numerous. And they are available to all." The Belgian Bishops’ Conference has created a website for the purpose.

The Bishops’ Conference in France on its website, and the youth of the diocese of Paris on a special website, propose : The decoded truth on the Da Vinci Code. On his part, Mgr Joseph Doré, archbishop of Strasbourg, declared: "… Dan Brown’s novel, under the pretext of historical fiction is spreading a certain number a false and calumnious interpretations concerning the person of Christ and his disciples."

In Canada, the Bishops’ Conference and the Assembly of the Bishops of Québec, on their respective websites, answer the question: "What should we think about the book Da Vinci Code?" The bishops of Québec enable the readers and the spectators to decode the falsifying work thanks to an on-line study.

In Belarus, the State society for film distribution, Minskkinovidéoprokat, declared to A.F.P. (French Press Agency): "The Belarus State Committee in charge of religious affairs decided to forbid the film and we removed it from the theaters." This decision was taken after the demonstrations organized by Catholics in front of the three main movie theaters of the capital where the film was shown on May 19.

In India, censors requested that a warning be inserted at the beginning of the film to tell the spectator that it was a fiction… thus obliging the distributor to postpone the release of the film for an indefinite period of time. In China, the Catholic Church called upon the faithful to boycott the film. In Thailand, censors requested that the last 10 minutes of the film, which were deemed "blasphemous", be suppressed.

In Seoul, New Dehli , and Moscow, the film was also judged as offensive by Muslims because the Da Vinci Code attacks "Christ, a prophet of Islam". In India, Maluana Mansur Ali Khan, secretary of the Jamiyat-ul-Ulema, stated: "What is said in Dan Brown’s book is an insult to Christians as well as to Muslims".

Nevertheless, the film earned 77 million dollars for tickets sold in the United States and 224 million dollars throughout the world during its first week-end in the box-offices. As for Sony Picture, which has already made 230 million dollars profit out of the film, it plans a film adaptation of Angels and Demons, by the same author. When he was asked about the violence of the reactions, producer Ron Howard said: "It is only a matter of entertainment not of theology."