In reply to public reaction of the film, the Vatican Pope declarded that "there is nothing anti-Semitic" about Mel Gibson's blockbuster film "The Passion of the Christ." The Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls also commented upon continued criticism of the portrayal of the Jews explaining that the film merely “a cinematographic transcription of the Gospels. If it were anti-Semitic, the Gospels would also be so."
The pope including the rest of the Catholic community show positive support for the Gibson film and hold no public objection. According to the spokesman, Pope John Paul II would have already criticized the film if it was partial, holding the Jews at a criticizing regard.
This reply towards the public on behalf of the Catholic church was in response to the Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, who had asked the Vatican to publically denounce the film, which has grossed more than $200 million in the U.S. ever since its release.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said this will now settle the issue for most Catholics.
"Naturally, there will always be some, most especially dissident theologians, nuns and priests, who will reject the Vatican's understanding of the film," he said. "But then again they have a long track record of rejecting lots of things the Vatican says. It would be a mistake for the millions of Catholics who have embraced this movie to allow the dissidents to distract them from the beauty of the film."
Although having passed such a judgment upon the film, the Catholic church still desires to stand at the position of reconciliation with the Jewish community. Donohue comments "… because the last thing Catholics want is bad relations with Jews," he said. "Those Jews who find the movie problematic should be treated with respect." Donohue reasoned that because the history of Christians and the Jews had many mistreatments towards one another, objection on Gibson’s film would be nevertheless expected. However, if the two communities were make amends and proceed on, the Catholic community cannot pretend that there is no disagreement with the Jewish community regarding the death of Christ presented within the film.
"At the end of the day, however, disagreements between Catholics and Jews need not take on any greater significance than the ordinary family quarrel," said Donohue. "It is up to the major players on both sides to see to it that our common friendship transcends any discord about this matter."