success stories

Posted September 20, 2003

Vatican Congregation for Clergy
Recommends Mel Gibson's "Passion"

The head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy sees much value in Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion", and advises priests to see it.

"One of the great achievements of this film is to have shown so effectively both the horror of sin and selfishness, and the redeeming power of love," said Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the congregation prefect.

An interview with the cardinal about the film was published Sept. 17 by ACI Prensa, the Latin American Catholic news agency, and Sept. 18 by the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Introducing the interview, La Stampa said Cardinal Castrillon had seen a rough cut of the film. The paper said Gibson came to Rome the first week of September and "a private viewing was organized for a few Catholic personalities," including the cardinal.

Cardinal Castrillon also is president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," the office established by Pope John Paul II for the pastoral care of Catholics attached to the liturgy as it was celebrated before the Second Vatican Council. While in Rome shooting the film, Gibson arranged for a priest to come to the set to celebrate a Tridentine Mass each morning.

Cardinal Castrillon was out of his office the week of Sept. 15-19. His secretary said, "The cardinal saw the film. We have nothing else to say."

In the interview, Cardinal Castrillon said the film is "faithful to the meaning of the Gospels as understood by the church" and is not anti-Semitic, as some groups have said.

"It captures the subtleties and the horror of sin, as well as the gentle power of love and forgiveness, without making or insinuating blanket condemnations against one group," he said. "Anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, distorts the truth in order to put a whole race of people in a bad light," the cardinal said. "This film does nothing of the sort."

Cardinal Castrillon said the film, although at times graphic, "provokes love and compassion."

"It is my belief that if we could understand what Jesus Christ did for us and we could follow his example of love and forgiveness, there would not be hatred or violence in the world," he said.