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Opus Dei Asks for Disclaimer in Da Vinci Film

A conservative religious organization, with ties to the Vatican, urged Sony Pictures Entertainment to label its anticipated blockbuster as 'a work of fantasy and that any similarity with reality is p
( [email protected] ) Apr 18, 2006 07:08 PM EDT

A conservative religious organization, with ties to the Vatican, urged Sony Pictures Entertainment to label its anticipated blockbuster as "a work of fantasy and that any similarity with reality is purely coincidental."

Opus Dei, portrayed as a secretive, murderous and power-hungry society in the film, made its statement available on its website a day before Easter Sunday.

"Any such decision by Sony would be a gesture of respect toward the figure of Jesus, to

the history of the Church and to the religious beliefs of viewers," Opus Dei said.

The film based-on-a-novel contends that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had descendents, and that Opus Dei and the Catholic Church had conspired to cover it up.

Sony said that in February film is not religious in nature would not criticize any religious group, though evangelical groups worldwide have stepped forward to say that the work deforms the image of Christ.

Early April, China approved the Da Vinci Code for a nationwide release, despite having a reputation for strict media censorship. In South Korea, an umbrella organization of 60 protestant churches vowed to block the screening for the film in their country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury criticized the film in his Easter Sunday sermon, especially addressing its claim that Mary Madeline bore Christ’s children.

"One of the ways in which we now celebrate the great Christian festivals in our society is by a little flurry of newspaper articles and television programs raking over the coals of controversies about the historical basis of faith," he said last Sunday.

Friday, April 14, a papal priest blasted the book and the upcoming film, while preaching at a "Passion of the Lord" service before Pope Benedict.

"Christ is still sold, but not any more for 30 coins, but (sold) to publishers and booksellers for billions of coins," Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa said at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The film, starring Tom Hanks, is schedule for release next month.