Italy: Highly favorable public reaction to Mel Gibson’s film

Source: FSSPX News


“It is a beautiful film,” according to Mgr. Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran Pontifical Universtity, interviewed by La Repubblica on April 6. In his eyes, this work is a “reflection of a believer on the fundamental passages of the Gospel”. For his part, Cardinal Ersilio Tonini explained in the April 8 edition of the same paper: “This is not a film based on a fairy story, it is the truth. It is not by chance that in all the Gospels, the most intense part is dedicated to the Passion.”

The American archbishop, Mgr. John Patrick Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, affirmed that he had “a very favorable impression of it”, finding the film “very faithful to the Gospel”. Acknowledging that there was certainly “graphic violence”, he justified it as “the price Jesus had to pay for our sins and our salvation”, during a press conference on the film given in Rome to the foreign press on April 5, 2004.

On Radio Vatican, the Italian theologian, who this year preached Lent to the pope and the Roman Curia, Mgr. Bruno Forte declared: “There is a great insistence on the aspect of cruelty in The Passion of the Christ. But it must be acknowledged that this aspect is not historically unfounded. If we think of the flagellatio, we must remember that it was an atrocious torture, which removed the flesh of the condemned person. I believe that behind that, was the desire to show that, to take up the words of Angela of Foligno: Christ did not love us lightly.”

He continued: “This is an aspect which is sometimes overlooked, in certain more toned down versions of the Gospels. It is this love for the flesh of the Son of God which, as Tertullian said, “is the pivot of our salvation”, which might be the positive source of inspiration of Mel Gibson’s choice, even if the subsequent transposition onto screen is considered by some people to be excessive, because we see a lot of blood.”

As regards the accusation of antisemitism: “This is absolutely unfounded. The film emphsasises, in fact, the responsibility of the Jews of the epoch in this politico-legal plot. But it equally emphasises, in a very lucid manner, the ambiguity of Pilate, the responsibility of the Roman soldiers, you could even say the “wretchedness” of Peter… If it were antisemitic, one would have to say that it is also anti-Roman, and paradoxically, that it is also anti-Petrine”.

The Roman prelate added: “This film is the work of a producer who openly declares his desire to give witness to his faith, and this is certainly a considerable fact. But to go from there, to say that the film, in itself, is a witness of faith …one must be careful! Having said that, we find ourselves in front of a work which, in fact, will lead many people in the world to think again about the Passion of Christ. Personally, I see here an analogy with the medieval representations. I believe that in this sense, the Passion of Mel Gibson, can also help us to find, above all in the witness of forgiveness which Jesus shows to his persecutors, this witness of love to the very end, an extraordinary strength of redemption and of hope.

Evoking his personal impression of the film, Mgr. Forte said: “It made me appreciate even more the sobriety of the narrative and the profundity of the Gospel message, and above all – this is the positive aspect – it made me understand that Christ is He who has really loved us to the very end, He who, in His boundless love, revealed Himself as the Son of God come to save us.”