February 24, 2004
vol 15, no. 55

One Day to Go!

Last Day of the Nine Day Novena of Rosaries for the conversion of hardened, cold and lukewarm hearts through Mel's film.

    Find out which theaters will be showing 'The Passion of The Christ' nationwide. Go to Movie Theaters carrying the Movie and click on your desired state to find the city and theater. Then you can call the theater to reserve Advance Tickets for the theater of your choice.

    In anticipation of one of the greatest films impact-wise to ever open, we are counting down to Opening Day on Ash Wednesday when in theaters everywhere people will be moved by the Traditional inspiration of Mel Gibson who many see as a Hollywood movie star, but True Catholics see him as an evangelist in the purist sense. A true Apostle for the Truths and Traditions of the Church Christ founded. Mel has set on celluloid what has always been set in stone: the everlasting reminder of why Christ died for each and every one of us. We have that reminder daily in the Latin Mass when the alter Christus - the priest offers Him up as a propitiatory sacrifice in an unbloody manner to the Father for us. Prayerfully this movie will move the hearts and souls of millions to return to the Truths and Traditions of Christ's True Church.

Posted Feb 24:



Here is what 60 Minutes' Andy Rooney said Sunday night on national TV. Greater men have had to step down for disparaging remarks far less volatile and vicious as Rooney's. We forgive him for his deed, but we insist he resign immediately. Catholics and Christians cannot stand for this to go unnoticed.

    As God told me...

    It doesn't seem right, but religion has been in the news a lot recently.

    Pat Robertson says that God has spoken to him and told him that George W. Bush will be re-elected because he deserves to be.

    Here's Pat Robertson's exact quote: "I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I'm hearing from the Lord that it's going to be a blowout."

    The movie by Mel Gibson called “The Passion of the Christ” is the other religious issue in the news. Everyone's talking about that. The question is whether the Jews killed Jesus Christ - who was Jewish, of course.

    I hadn't wanted to say anything about this, because it seemed like a personal matter, but Pat Robertson isn't the only one who has heard from God.

    I heard from God just the other night. God always seems to call at night.

    "Andrew," God said to me. He always calls me "Andrew." I like that.

    "Andrew, you have the eyes and ears of a lot of people. I wish you'd tell your viewers that both Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson strike me as wackos. I believe that's one of your current words. They're crazy as bedbugs, another earthly expression. I created bedbugs. I'll tell you, they're no crazier than people,” said God.

    "Let me just say that I think I'd remember if I'd ever talked to Pat Robertson, and I'd remember if I said Bush would get re-elected in a blowout."

    “As far as Mel Gibson goes, I haven't seen his movie, 'The Passion of the Christ,' because it hasn't opened up here yet. But I did catch Gibson being interviewed by Diane Sawyer. I did something right when I came up with her, didn't I,” added God. “Anyway, as I was saying, Mel is a real nut case. What in the world was I thinking when I created him? Listen, we all make mistakes."

    That is what God said to me. That's about all he did say to me because I'm sure God has a lot more important things to do than talk to someone on television.

    My own question to Pat Robertson is this: The election looks as though it could be close, certainly not a blowout. If George W. Bush loses the election to a Democrat, will you become an atheist?

    My question to Mel Gibson is: "How many million dollars does it look as if you're going to make off the crucifixion of Christ?"

Posted Feb 23:

Two Thumbs UP for 'The Passion'

Film critics Ebert & Roeper praise 'Passion' as 'Most important' interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film

with comments by Gary Morella

© 2004

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" won't be released until Wednesday, but it's already one of the most controversial films in history.

For months Gibson has been showing rough cuts of the movie to religious leaders in an effort to stem mounting criticism that his interpretation of the last hours of Jesus' life will foster anti-Semitism.

And now America's most prominent film critics, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper are weighing in.

This weekend on their nationally syndicated show, they're offering an exclusive early review of the completed version of Mel Gibson's new film.

Ebert and Roeper made the following remarks about the film and the controversy surrounding its release:

ROEPER: ''This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film. Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and he has created a 2,000-year-old world brimming with authentic details.''

EBERT: ''I was also deeply moved by 'The Passion of the Christ', which in excruciating details does follow the blood-soaked Stations of the Cross. Christianity has focused on the physical wounds of Jesus to show that he suffered, as well as died, for man's sins, and this movie makes it real.''

ROEPER: ''As for concerns of anti-Semitism: Caiphas does lead the call for Jesus to die, and Pontius Pilate is depicted as more conflicted than most historical records indicate.

    [The very real "confliction" of Pontius Pilate and a Roman soldier is Biblical. Reference Matthew 27:19-25 and Luke 23:47, Those modern historical critics ala the Jesus Seminar who typically try to downplay this have other agendas at work, e.g., the rejection of the Bible, especially the New Testament, as being inerrant to especially include the truth of Christ's Bodily Resurrection in favor of a "spiritual resurrection" taking place in the hearts of the Christian Community. Is that what the early Christian martyrs died for? No Resurrection, no Faith. No triumph over death, no need to for any triumph, i.e., no Original Sin. No Original Sin, no creation - enter evolution as the alternative with the erasure of God via the evacuation of the soul complete. - Gary L. Morella]

But other temple leaders question the rush to condemn Jesus, and it's the Roman soldiers who are portrayed as sadistic animals throughout this film. This movie does not blame all Jews past and present for the death of Jesus, a descendant of Judah.''

EBERT: ''It's a very great film. It's the only religious film I've seen with the exception of The Gospel According to Matthew, by Pasolini, that really seems to deal directly with what happened instead of with all kinds of sentimental eyes, cleaned up, post card versions of it.''

ROEPER: ''With 'The Passion of the Christ,' I know there'll be protest groups in front of the theater. I hope they at least go into the theater and see the movie first, and then decide if they want to protest the actual film.''

EBERT: ''I think the controversy was very premature and was based on people that hadn't seen the film, and who are going to be a little surprised at what's actually in the film.''

Posted Feb 22:

Terse Words on Touchy Subjects

Succinct Comments from a Comptroller

By Michael H. Pierce
President, Capierce Writing Creative Services

   Mel Gibson has garnered a great deal of press, heat and, of course, media bias, simply due to the fact that he is an Orthodox Roman Catholic, is using the Four Evangelists, and a mystic's famous visions about the Crucifixion and the events that preceded it, as his inspiration for The Passion of The Christ, a film that many are calling a masterpiece. How lucky for Mr. Gibson, as it has always been true that, "Find the religion or the Church that is persecuted the most and you have the one true faith." Is Roman Catholicism witnessing another triumph?

   We quote our comptroller, Eleanor A. Caton, concerning the film in general as she speaks about the many articles that she has read, some of which have been appearing about The Passion of The Christ, for over a year now.

   After reading Rabbi Daniel Lapin's article she said that it was perhaps one of the most informative and positive piece on Gibson, she has read. Miss Caton was happy, "That an orthodox Rabbi was so willing to explain and infer that the film is neither anti-Semitic, his rather terse and deeply informative style...actually, if the inferences were blatant, then they highlighted many of the comments and criticism that several have stated, but were perhaps a little too afraid to write so boldly, not being Jewish, of course, writers afraid of what some others who are obviously anti-Gibson--might say about their own ideas, especially if they are Christian., basing them on previous condemnations of the Jews as Christ-killers."

   Miss Caton especially liked some of the humor that was peppered throughout the essay, and found Rabbi Lapin's comments on The Gospel of John, a new film recently produced by four Jews, very interesting. Indeed no one bothered to say one word about it, as the Rabbi points out, whether it was anti-Semitic or not, based on the writings of the Jewish eyewitness and Evangelist, John--the beloved of Christ. She has seen this film, found it moving, thought it was well acted.

   Miss Caton was also concerned about the gross over-exposure the film has received and the voluminous pieces of effusive writing and articles that have appeared, continue to mount up, before the film premieres on Ash Wednesday. But many say that most of the discussion and the previous word of mouth have lauded this film as a masterpiece.

   "I don't even know now, if I want to see this film, " she mused, flimsily. "There has been so much discussion around here about it; it has tired me out greatly! I am tired of Mel Gibson, and this film, " she blasted one day.

   But then she came into our office with but another article, quoting from a rather long piece that was written--"The verbiage goes on and on and I get weary of all the demagoguery and hype--many have not even seen the film. It's appalling the way they are treating Gibson." I did not venture to state the obvious, not wanting to quote Christ, when he spoke to His Apostles about the way they would be treated (persecuted) --the way He was. Many were also crucified. This is certainly happening to Mel, metaphorically, verbally, in more ways than one. Still, the end results, as with Divine Salvation, are definitely worth it according to many who have seen the film in preview: the cinematography, lighting, makeup and the whole, not to mention the acting and the, "revolting bloodiness of the thing," are reportedly riveting.

Posted Feb 21:

    Editor's Note: Below is the full text of the anathema-riddled letter from Bishop Patrick J. McGrath to the citizens of San Jose. You'll note he was so ashamed of his office as Bishop that he just put "Patrick J. McGrath" instead of Bishop McGrath or even Reverend. That doesn't please man or the politically correct. Please see our editorial today, The 'Apostles' are scattering into the Alleys of Anathema!


By Patrick J. McGrath

The film `The Passion of the Christ'' is about to open. I have not been able to view the movie, and it is important that I state this at the outset, for I cannot pretend to offer a review or any kind of critique of this project of director Mel Gibson. I do offer some reflections on underlying concerns that seem to be coming into focus in light of the Ash Wednesday release of ``The Passion.''

While the primary source material of the film is attributed to the four gospels, these sacred books are not historical accounts of the historical events that they narrate. They are theological reflections upon the events that form the core of Christian faith and belief.

The reader can easily misunderstand the gospels when they are viewed through the lens of contemporary conceptions, attitudes and prejudices, as well as those of intervening millennia. The attribution of anti-Semitism to the gospel narratives is one such misunderstanding.

It is a distortion by Christians who forget these facts: Jesus was a Jew, the apostles were Jews, the writers of the New Testament (as well as the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Scriptures) were Jews, and the audience for which the Old and New Testaments were written was primarily Jewish. It was not until several generations after the writing of the gospels before Jewish Christians (the first believers in Jesus) began to consider themselves not to be Jews. It is an inescapable fact that first-century Jewish writers would depict the drama of the passion of Jesus in light of their own perceptions. We, however, have a responsibility to history as well as to the present to bring a different understanding to our relations with one another.

Unfortunately, this understanding has not always motivated Catholics in relations with their Jewish brothers and sisters. History relates periods of Christian persecution of Jews, and the direct effects of this persecution still touch us today.

On Feb. 18, 2000, soon after I became bishop of San Jose, I went to Temple Emanu-El to apologize for the Catholic Church's actions that incited or in any way encouraged anti-Semitism. An elderly man approached me and related how, when he was a young boy some 70 or 80 years earlier, he had been attacked by other boys who called him ``Christ-killer.'' Even after all of the years, this man broke down in tears at recounting the story. All I could do was offer him a personal apology and to embrace him as a brother.

This most tragic part of our not-so-distant-past was addressed at the Second Vatican Council by the Roman Catholic bishops of the world in the 1965 document, Nostra Aetate. The bishops wrote, ``Humanity forms but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created. . . . The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this follows from holy scripture. Indeed the Church reproves every form of persecution against whomsoever it may be directed. . . . it deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews.''

In the nearly 40 years since Nostra Aetate was written, the relationships between Catholics and non-Christians -- including but not limited to Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists -- have grown warmer. We see ourselves as sisters and brothers, co-workers and friends.

In solidarity with Pope John Paul II, who asked for forgiveness during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2000, I apologize to all my brothers and sisters of any faith tradition which has felt prejudice. Let us not allow the mutual respect that has developed to be threatened by an unenlightened reflection on an artistic rendering of the events of 2,000 years ago. Remember, it is just a movie.

As we enter the season of Lent next Wednesday, Catholics and Christians are called to repentance. I call upon Catholics and all Christians in this Valley to renew the ties that bind us to our Jewish brothers and sisters, the first of God's Chosen People.

    PATRICK J. McGRATH is the Roman Catholic bishop of San Jose. He wrote this column for the Mercury News.


    Catholic League president William Donohue commented today on the way some critics of “The Passion of The Christ” are behaving:

“With the opening of ‘The Passion of the Christ’ less than a week away, it is obvious that some of the film’s critics are cracking up. For example, gossip maven Liz Smith today echoes ADL chief Abe Foxman’s remark that Mel Gibson is a ‘true believer.’ Ex-priest John Dominic Crossan accuses Mel of ‘playing with dynamite,’ offering that the film is ‘dangerously irresponsible.’ Bart Charlow, director of the National Conference for Community and Justice, says Mel is ‘treading on ancient and dangerous grounds,’ adding that it may lead to ‘synagogue firebombings.’ Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee is upset about a scene in which Jesus is hung over a bridge by chains; Rudin says this wasn’t in the New Testament. Abe Foxman says the movie betrays Vatican II and that the Church has ‘a responsibility to stand up to defend its own teaching.’ And several media talk-show hosts have grilled me about the propriety of young people seeing a movie with so much violence.

“The term ‘true believer’ was coined by philosopher Eric Hoffer to describe fanatics, both religious and secular. In other words, it accurately describes Mel’s most extreme critics. Those who are sounding the alarms over anti-Semitic violence are historically ignorant: the last time Jews were assaulted after the production of a Passion Play was in the Middle Ages. As for fidelity to the New Testament, Mel is not obligated to tailor his interpretation of the Bible according to someone else’s politically correct straightjacket. If they don’t like his version, they can always make their own. Moreover, it takes chutzpah for a non-Catholic to lecture the Church about defending its teachings, simply because he doesn’t like a movie the Church had nothing to do with. As for the violence, it is amazing to hear those who think it’s okay for a teenager to submit her unborn child to lethal violence—without parental consent—now worry whether she is able to endure a movie about the death of Jesus.

“These critics are cracking up. But their demagoguery is failing: they cannot stop the movie from being a blockbuster.”

    Catholic League president William Donohue also commented today on news reports regarding an interview that Mel Gibson’s father granted to a radio show:


“The attack on ‘The Passion of the Christ’ is unprecedented in its ruthlessness. The script was stolen and given to those who could be counted on to slam it; tapes of the film were stolen and distributed to those who also could be relied upon to bash it; Mel’s faith has been impugned; charges that violence against Jews will occur after the movie has been shown are commonplace; attempts to bully Gibson into changing the film have been ongoing; demands for a postscript have been made by those who seek to put Gibson on the defensive; bishops have been badgered to get Mel’s friends in line; the Vatican has been lobbied to criticize the movie; accusations that the movie is being kept away from Jewish neighborhoods have been made; fears that the movie will damage youngsters who see it have been expressed; demands that Gibson vet his script for approval to officials of the Catholic Church have frequently been made; critics have deceitfully gained admission into screenings of the film; highly personal questions about Gibson’s life have been raised; sneering comments that the film may make a profit have been voiced; the way the movie has been marketed has been raised in a derisive way; demands that the film be censored have been made at public rallies; Catholics who defend the movie have been insulted by foes of the film; disrespect for Gibson’s artistic rights has been voiced many times; and so on.

“Now they’re going after Mel’s 85-year-old father. As I have already told reporters, I will have none of it. The search-and-destroy operation being conducted by the movie’s critics knows no boundaries. Make no mistake about it, those obsessed with killing this movie will not manipulate Bill Donohue into berating Hutton Gibson. Nor will they push me to ask for information on how I can contact their fathers, though the thought is tempting.”

Posted Feb 19:

"'The Passion' … for Its Author, Is a Mass"
ROME, FEB. 18, 2004 (

A Passion of Violence and Love

By Vittorio Messori

After two hours and six minutes, the lights flick on again in the little soundproof room. There are only about a dozen of us (I the sole journalist), and we are aware of a privilege. By invitation of Mel Gibson and producer Steve McEveety of Icon Films, we are the first in Europe to see the final copy of this film which just arrived from Los Angeles. The same version that next Wednesday will be in 2,000 American cinemas, 500 English ones, and as many Australian, the version whose expectation has caused a short circuit on Internet sites and which in the first week will recover (the bookmakers say it is certain) the $30 million of production costs.

The Pope himself has only seen a provisional version, lacking among other things the final soundtrack. But, if this evening we are the first, the Italians will have to wait until the 7th of April, the French and the Spanish until June.

When the long list of credits ends, where American names alternate with Italian, where recognition of the municipality of Matera is side by side with that of theologians and experts in ancient languages, where Rosalinda, the daughter of Celentano (the devil) is next to a Romanian Jew, Maia Morgenstern (the Virgin Mary), and the technician presses the light switch, silence continues in the little room.

Two women weep quietly, without sobbing; the monsignor in clergyman's dress who is next to me is very pale, his eyes closed; the young ecclesiastical secretary nervously fingers a rosary; a tentative, solitary start of applause quickly dies out in embarrassment.

For many, very long minutes, no one stands up, no one moves, no one speaks. So, what we were being told was true: "The Passion of The Christ" has struck us, it has worked in us, the first guinea pigs, the effect that Gibson wanted.

For what it's worth, I myself was disconcerted and speechless: For years I have examined one by one the Greek words with which the Evangelists recount those events; not one historical minutia of those 12 hours in Jerusalem is unknown to me. I have addressed it in a 400-page book that Gibson himself has taken into account. I know everything, or rather, I now discover that I thought I knew: everything changes if those words are translated into images of such power to transform in flesh and blood, striking signs of love and hatred.

The Gamble

Mel has said it with pride tempered by humility, with pragmatism kneaded with mysticism which becomes in him a singular mixture: "If this work was to fail, for 50 years there will be no future for religious films. We threw the best in here: as much money as we wished, prestige, time, rigor, the charism of great actors, the science of the learned, inspirations of the mystics, experience, advanced technology. Above all, we threw in our conviction that it was worthwhile, that what takes place in those hours concerns every man. Our eternity is bound up forever with this Jew. If we don't point this out, who will be able to do so? But we will point it out, I am sure of it: Our work was accompanied by too many signs that confirm it."

In fact, on the set much more happened than what is known; much will remain in the secret of consciences: conversions, release from drugs, reconciliation between enemies, giving up of adulterous ties, apparitions of mysterious personages, extraordinary explosions of energy, enigmatic figures who knelt down as the extraordinary Caviezel-Jesus passed by, even two flashes of lightning, one of which struck the cross, but did not hurt anyone. And, then, coincidences read like signs: the Madonna with the face of the Jewish actress with the name Morgenstern which, it was only noticed later, is, in German, the "Morning Star" of the litanies of the rosary.

Gibson remembered Blessed Angelico's warning: "To depict Christ, it is necessary to live with Christ." The atmosphere, between the Sassi di Matera and the Cinecittà Studios seems to have been that of the sacred medieval representations, of processions of scourged pilgrims before the relics of martyrs. A 14th-century Thespis' cart, with which every evening, a priest in black cassock, of the type with the long line of buttons, celebrated an open-air Mass, in Latin, according to the rite of St. Pius V. Precisely here, in fact, is the real reason for the decision to make the Jews speak in their popular language, Aramaic, and the Romans in a low Latin, of the military, which wounds our schoolboy ears, used to Ciceronian refinements.

Gibson, a Catholic who loves the Tradition, is a strong champion of the doctrine confirmed by the Council of Trent: the Mass is "also" a fraternal meal but it is "above all" Jesus' sacrifice, the bloodless renewal of the passion. This is what matters, not the "understanding of the words," as the new liturgists wish, whose superficiality Mel mocks as it seems like blasphemy to him. The redemptive value of the actions and gestures that have their culmination on Calvary has no need of expressions that anyone can understand.

This film, for its author, is a Mass: Let it be, then, in an obscure language, as it was for so many centuries. If the mind does not understand, so much the better. What matters is that the heart understands that all that happened redeems us from sin and opens to us the doors of salvation. Precisely as the prophecy of Isaiah reminds us on the "Servant of Yahweh" which, taking up the whole screen, is the prologue of the entire film. The wonder, however, seems to me to be verified: After a while, one stops reading the subtitles to enter, without distractions, in the terrible and marvelous scenes -- that are sufficient in themselves.

The Quality

On the technical plane, the work is of a very high quality, so much so that previous films on Jesus might seem reduced to poor and archaic relatives: in Gibson, strategic lighting, skillful photography, extraordinary costumes, rugged and sometimes sumptuous set designs, incredibly convincing makeup, recitations of great professionals supervised by a director who is also one of their illustrious colleagues. Above all, such amazing special effects which, as Enzo Sisti, the executive producer, said to us, will remain secret, to confirm the enigma of the work, where the technique is intended to be at the service of faith. A faith in the most Catholic version -- no accident that it was pleasing to the Pope and to so many cardinals, not excluding Ratzinger, for whom "The Passion" is a manifesto that abounds in symbols that only a competent eye can fully discern. There will be a book (two, in fact, are in preparation) to help the spectator understand.

Very briefly, the radical "Catholicity" of the film lies first of all in the refusal of every demythicization, in taking the Gospels as precise chronicles: The things, we are told, happened like this, precisely as the Scriptures describe it. Catholicism is present, then, in the recognition of the divinity of Jesus which exists together with his full humanity. A divinity that bursts forth, dramatically, in the superhuman capacity of that body to suffer a level of pain as no one before or after ever has, in expiation of all the sin of the world.

But the radical "Catholicity" is also in the Eucharistic aspect, reaffirmed in its materiality: The blood of the Passion is continuously intermingled with the wine of the Mass, the tortured flesh of the "corpus Christi" with the consecrated bread. It is, also, in the strongly Marian tone: the Mother and the devil (who is feminine or, perhaps, androgynous) are omnipresent, the one with her silent pain, the other with his/her malicious satisfaction.

From Anne Catherine Emmerich, the stigmatized visionary, Gibson has taken extraordinary intuitions: Claudia Procula, Pilate's wife, who offers, weeping, to Mary the cloths to soak up the blood of the Son is among the scenes of greatest delicacy in a film that, more than violent, is brutal. Brutal as, in fact, the Passion was. The desperate Peter after the denial, falls at the feet of the Blessed Virgin to obtain pardon. I believe, however, that the theological importance attributed to the Madonna, as well as to the Eucharist -- an importance not spiritualized, not reduced to a "memorial" but seen in the most material, and therefore Catholic, way (the Transubstantiation) -- will create some uneasiness in American Protestant churches which, without having seen the film, have already organized themselves to support its distribution.

If two hours are dedicated to the martyrdom, two minutes suffice to recall that that was not the last word. From Good Friday to Easter Sunday, to the Resurrection, which Gibson has resolved by making a particular reading of John's words: an "emptying" of the funeral shroud, leaving a sufficient sign to "see and believe" that the tortured one has triumphed over death.

Anti-Semitism or, at least, anti-Judaism? Let's not play around with words that are much too serious. From my viewing, I agree with the many and authoritative American Jews who admonish their co-religionists not to condemn before seeing. It comes across very clearly in the film that what weighs Christ down and reduces him to that state is not this one's or that one's fault, but rather the sin of all men, no one excluded.

To Caiaphas' obstinacy in calling for the crucifixion (that collaborator Sadducee who did not in fact represent the Jewish people, but, rather was detested by them; the Talmud reserves terrible words for him and for his father-in-law Annas), more than abundant counterbalance is made by the unheard-of sadism of the Roman executioners. The political cowardice of Pilate that leads him to violate his conscience stands counter to the courage of the member of the Sanhedrin -- an episode added by the director -- who confronts the High Priest crying out that that trial is illegal. And is it not John, a Jew, who supports the Mother? Is not the pious Veronica a Jew? Is not the impetuous Simon of Cyrene a Jew? Are not the women of Jerusalem, crying out in despair, all Jews? And is it not Peter -- a Jew -- who, when forgiven, will die for the Master?

At the beginning of the film, before the drama is unleashed, an anguished Magdalene asks the Virgin: "Why is this night so different from any other?" "Because," Mary answers, "we were all slaves and now we will no longer be so." All, but absolutely all: whether they are "Jews or Gentiles." This work, Mel Gibson says, saddened by aggressions to prevent it, intends to propose again the message of a God who is Love. And what Love would it be if he excluded any one? ZE04021821

Posted Feb 18:

    Editor's Note: The following letter was written by the daughter of James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Danae Dobson was inspired to write this after a private screening with Mel Gibson which she and her father were invited to view 'The Passion of The Christ' late last year. Considering all the negatives that have been consuming the media and minds as we head down the stretch to the opening a week from today, we wanted to bring this to you also because it is the feast of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, another young woman who was blessed with a spectacular vision long before the word 'motion picture' had ever been heard of. The message Bernadette received is the same message Our Lady is hoping all her children will take with them after viewing this powerful film. We have heard enough from the so-called 'Scholars' and 'Experts' - the Scribes and Pharisees. Now it is time to hear from an innocent soul for Danae offers an insight that truly comes from the heart.

Dear Friends:
A couple months ago, I had the unique privilege of accompanying my family to Mel Gibson's studio to see a private screening of his film, The Passion. Many of you have probably heard about this portrayal of the last 12 hours in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. I can say that The Passion is the most beautiful, profound, accurate, disturbing, realistic, and bloody depiction of this story that I have ever seen! It is truly amazing, and it left all of us speechless for a few minutes when it was over.

Mr. Gibson entered the room during the last ten minutes of the screening, and stayed for an hour to discuss the content and to answer questions. He's hoping that my dad and Focus on the Family will help promote it, and my dad has (without question!) agreed to do so.

Mr. Gibson expressed a concern about his position in the entertainment industry, and said that this film will affect his status from here on. When asked why he made the movie, he said that he had no choice in the matter--he felt called to the assignment, and he was determined to carry it out. Questions had been raised as to whether he can find a distributor. Asked about it at the screening, Mr. Gibson said confidently, "Oh, I'll find a distributor!"

The Passion should not be labeled a religious film, or something to be shown only in churches. Compared with examples of recent Christian films, like Left Behind, The Passion is a work of high art and great storytelling. The rough cut I saw contained graphic scenes, including the seemingly endless scourging of Jesus. The crucifixion scene is long, bloody and painful to watch. It's very disturbing, but it's also moving at the same time. While I was taking all of this in, I was thinking, "Christ did this for ME, and he would have gone through it if I was the only one in all the world, and the same goes for each person who has ever lived!"

To those in the Jewish community who worry that the film, which is scheduled for release next Easter season ('04), might contain anti-Semitic elements, or encourage people to persecute Jews, fear not. The film does not indict Jews for the death of Jesus. It is faithful to the New testament account. Also, Mr. Gibson, a devout Roman Catholic, does not elevate Mary beyond what Scripture says of her, which will broaden the film's appeal to Protestants.

The dialogue is in Aramaic and Latin. English subtitles are provided, and they are very helpful in following the story line. A decision about using them in the final version has not been made. My family and I tried to persuade Mr. Gibson to leave the subtitles in, and my dad pointed out that those who are unbelievers (or those who are weak in their understanding) will have no idea of what's going on in the flashback scenes of Jesus' life without subtitles.

In The Passion, few liberties are taken with the Gospel account, and the extra dialogue added helps round out the characters without damaging historical or Biblical accuracy.

Satan is cleverly played as an asexual being who at first seems to be an observer in the Garden of Gethsemane (and other scenes), but then becomes a snake slithering between the character's feet and attempting to wrap itself around the arm of the prostrate and praying Jesus.

The film is an intense two hours. It uses unknown actors, which keeps the focus on the message. By the end of the film (a unique portrayal of the Resurrection), the viewer is exhausted!

Thirteen years ago, actor Mickey Rooney wrote an editorial for Variety in which he said, "The onscreen depiction of religion is less than flattering, and, as a Christian, I pray the era of denigrating religion on screen comes to a screeching halt. And soon." His prayer has been answered in The Passion. It is a soul-stirring film that deserves wide distribution and viewing.

Its message is not just for Christians, but for everyone. I hope you all will support Mel Gibson's bold and courageous effort to portray the sacrifice that our Lord made for us. Pass this on, if you feel led, and be sure to see The Passion when it comes out. Yes, it is a disturbing film, but every person should see this realistic depiction of what Christ did for them!

Blessings to you,

Danae Dobson

P.S. I hope all of you are able to see this movie

Posted: Feb 17

Newsweek Peddling Gibson Foes' Revisionist Claims

2/13/2004 8:20:00 PM

By Phil Brennan -

All secular materialism, all the time, every week Newsweek magazine’s cover story about Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ," carries the byline of one Jon Meachem, but anybody the least bit familiar with the recent statements and articles by Boston college’s Paula Fredericksen, Sr. Mary Boys and the other dissident members of an ad-hoc committee of the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Conference interfaith group will immediately recognize where Meachem got his material.

This group of Catholic and Jewish scholars has a very clear agenda - to, in effect, rewrite the Gospels to conform to their opinions of what their study of history reveals about the life and times of Jesus Christ. What has been accepted for 2,000 years as the inspired word of God is, in their view, more myth than fact. To put it bluntly, what Christians have accepted as inerrant, is in the scholars opinion, full of errors.

Here’s what Newsweek had to say.

"Though countless believers take it as the immutable word of God, Scripture is not always a faithful record of historical events; the Bible is the product of human authors who were writing in particular times and places with particular points to make and visions to advance."

In other words, the Bible is not the work of apostles guided by the Holy Spirit and therefor incapable of error. It’s simply the work of four fallible human beings with an ax to grind.

"Gibson set out to stick to the Gospels and has made virtually no nod to critical analysis or context."

In other words, Mel Gibson didn’t consult the self-styled "experts" or pay any attention to their "critical analysis."

"The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John shaped their narratives several decades after Jesus' death to attract converts and make their young religion-understood by many Christians to be a faction of Judaism-attractive to as broad an audience as possible."

Matthew Mark, Luke and John, it seems were not evangelists inspired by the Holy Spirit, but merely four hucksters peddling their "young religion."

"We can also see why the writers downplayed the role of the ruling Romans in Jesus' death. The advocates of Christianity-then a new, struggling faith-understandably chose to placate, not antagonize, the powers that were. Why remind the world that the earthly empire which still ran the Mediterranean had executed your hero as a revolutionary?"

The Gospel writers slanted their biblical accounts to curry favor with the Romans who persisted in killing them anyway.

"And many scholars believe that the author of Matthew, which is the only Gospel to include the "His blood be on us" line, was writing after the destruction of the Temple in 70 and inserted the words to help explain why such misery had come upon the people of Jerusalem. According to this argument, blood had already fallen on them and on their children."

Just where did the "scholars" obtain that inside information?

"John's point in putting this line in Jesus' mouth is almost certainly to take a gibe at the Temple elite. But in the dramatic milieu of the movie, it can be taken to mean that the Jews, through Caiaphas, are more responsible for Jesus' death than the Romans are-an implication unsupported by history."

St. John put words in Jesus mouth? St. John, the " beloved apostle" lied ?

"Clear evidence of the political nature of the execution-that Pilate and the high priest were ridding themselves of a "messiah" who might disrupt society, not offer salvation-is the sign Pilate ordered affixed to Jesus' cross. The message is not from the knowing Romans to the evil Jews. It is, rather, a scornful signal to the crowds that this death awaits any man the pilgrims proclaim ‘the king of the Jews."

If that is true, why did the Temple authorities go to Pilate and demand that he change the wording to say that Jesus "claimed" to be King of the Jews. And how do they explain Pilate’s scornful rejection of their demand - " Scripsi, Scripsi" (What I have written I have written). Or did the gospel authors make that up too?

"It was as the church's theology took shape, culminating in the Council of Nicaea in 325, that Jesus became the doctrinal Christ, the Son of God ‘who for us men and our salvation," the council's original creed declared, "descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead.’"

In other words Jesus was not believed to be who he said he was for about 300 years after his death. That would have come as a surprise to the tens of thousands of martyrs who died because of their belief in his divinity.

"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Newsweek has learned, is publishing these teachings in book form to coincide with the release of Gibson's movie."

These "teachings" are the teachings of the so-called "scholars" which are at odds with official Catholic doctrine and the teachings of the majority of Protestant and evangelistic biblical scholars.

I have been unable to confirm this or discover if the book is to be the work of the dissident scholars.

USCCB has not returned my call asking under whose auspices the book is to be published after promising to do so. It should be noted that the USCCB has denied that the group speaks for them in any way and is not an official body of the conference.

    Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist who writes for He is editor & publisher of Wednesday on the Web ( and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He can be reached at

Posted: Feb 15

More Media caught in the lair of their own lie!

Fox accused of twisting facts on 'Passion'

Catholic leader shows film not selectively distributed, as charged

Posted: February 14, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004

The head of a Catholic group challenged a Fox News online column that criticizes Mel Gibson for "selectively distributing" his film "The Passion of the Christ" to avoid upscale, liberal and Jewish areas.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, however, insists Fox News columnist Roger Friedman has his facts all wrong.

Friedman, after detailing where he believes the movie will be shown, says Gibson "consciously created a divisive atmosphere for the presentation of his film."

The Fox contributor said, "All this seems designed to keep 'The Passion of the Christ' out of neighborhoods that are considered Jewish, upscale, or liberal."

Donahue responded:

    "Roger Friedman says the movie will be shown in two Chicago theaters; in fact it will be shown in seven. He says it will not be shown in the L.A. neighborhood of Century City; in fact it will be shown at the AMC in Century City.

    "He says it will not be shown in the 'wealthier and trendier parts' of Los Angeles; in fact it will be shown in Marina del Rey, Burbank and Santa Monica. He says it will not be shown in New York's Upper West Side; in fact it will be shown at 86th and Broadway. He says it will be shown only in the 'fringe areas' of the Upper East Side; in fact it will be shown at 86th and 3rd and 64th and 2nd.

    "He says it will be shown at one theater below 34th Street; in fact it will be shown at three. He says it will be hard to find in Nassau County, Long Island; in fact it will be shown in seven theaters there. He says that theater-goers will be 'hard pressed' to find it in ‘either the south or north shore’ of Long Island; in fact it will be shown in towns like Glen Cove and Port Washington on the north shore and Merrick and Seaford on the south shore.

    "He says those who live in Westchester will also find it difficult to see the movie; in fact it will be shown in Larchmont, New Rochelle and Yonkers. And so on."

    Donahue suggested, wryly, "taking a course in Geography 101 might cure some of Friedman's problems, but it would not be enough."

    "That's because his forced conclusion suggests something else is at work: To say that Gibson is intentionally keeping the film away from Jews and the rich is not only flatly wrong, it smacks of malice," he said. "We look for Fox to correct itself."

Friedman cited the movie's website and another website,, as sources for where the film will be screened.

He said the pattern for the film's distribution, "for the most part, highlights black neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. For example, all the Magic Johnson theatres in the country will show the movie, as will multiplexes in urban centers."

Newmarket Films, which is distributing the movie, Friedman said, "seems to have picked a pattern that concentrates heavily on the south and the Midwest, focusing on the Bible Belt and locations where 'The Passion of the Christ' will meet with the least resistance."

Friedman said his calls to Newmarket and to its public relations firm were not returned.

Noting the charges of anti-Semitism against Gibson and the film, Friedman writes: "The battle over 'The Passion of the Christ' is coming quickly now, and I for one am sorry that Gibson and Newmarket chose to keep it out of places where they thought the reception would be less than positive. Everyone should have the chance to see this film and decide for themselves if Gibson has done the right or wrong thing with his $25 million."

The columnist said it will "be interesting in seeing how the annual Oscar party given by Gibson's agent, Ed Limato, at his palatial Beverly Hills home will be received two days after the movie's premiere. And then there are the Oscars, where Billy Crystal is no doubt thinking of clever ways to spoof the movie."

Posted: Feb 14

Why Mel owes one to the Jews

By Rabbi Daniel Lapin
    Posted: February 13, 2004
    1:00 a.m. Eastern
    © 2004

Two weeks before Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" flashes onto two thousand screens, online ticket merchants are reporting that up to half their total sales are for advance purchases for the film. One Dallas multiplex has reserved all 20 of its screens for "The Passion." I am neither a prophet nor a movie critic. I am merely an Orthodox rabbi using ancient Jewish wisdom to make three predictions about "The Passion."

One, Mel Gibson and Icon Productions will make a great deal of money. Those distributors who surrendered to pressure from Jewish organizations and passed on the movie will be kicking themselves, while Newmarket Films will laugh all the way to the bank. Theater owners are going to love this film.

Two, "The Passion" will become famous as the most serious and substantive biblical movie ever made. It will be one of the most talked-about entertainment events in history. It is currently on the cover of Newsweek and Vanity Fair.

My third prediction is that the faith of millions of Christians will become more fervent as "The Passion" uplifts and inspires them. It will propel vast numbers of unreligious Americans to embrace Christianity. The movie will one day be seen as a harbinger of America's third great religious reawakening.

Those Jewish organizations that have squandered both time and money futilely protesting "The Passion," ostensibly in order to prevent pogroms in Pittsburgh, can hardly be proud of their performance. They failed at everything they attempted. They were hoping to ruin Gibson rather than enrich him. They were hoping to suppress "The Passion" rather than promote it. Finally, they were hoping to help Jews rather than harm them.

Here I digress slightly to exercise the Jewish value of "giving the benefit of the doubt" by discounting cynical suggestions growing in popularity that the very public nature of their attack on Gibson exposed their real purpose-fund-raising. Apparently, frightening wealthy widows in Florida about anti-Semitic thugs prowling the streets of America causes them to open their pocketbooks and refill the coffers of groups with little other raison d'être. But let's assume the groups were hoping to help Jews.

However, instead of helping the Jewish community, they have inflicted lasting harm. By selectively unleashing their fury only on wholesome entertainment that depicts Christianity in a positive light, they have triggered anger, hurt and resentment. Hosting the Toward Tradition radio show and speaking before many audiences nationwide, I enjoy extensive communication with Christian America, and what I hear is troubling. Fearful of attracting the ire of Jewish groups that are so quick to hurl the "anti-Semite" epithet, some Christians are reluctant to speak out. Although one can bludgeon resentful people into silence, behind closed doors emotions continue to simmer.

I consider it crucially important for Christians to know that not all Jews are in agreement with their self-appointed spokesmen. Most American Jews, experiencing warm and gracious interactions each day with their Christian fellow citizens, would feel awkward trying to explain why so many Jewish organizations seem focused on an agenda hostile to Judeo-Christian values. Many individual Jews have shared with me their embarrassment that groups, ostensibly representing them, attack "The Passion" but are silent about depraved entertainment that encourages killing cops and brutalizing women.

Citing artistic freedom, Jewish groups helped protect sacrilegious exhibits such as the anti-Christian feces extravaganza presented by the Brooklyn Museum four years ago. One can hardly blame Christians for assuming that Jews feel artistic freedom is important only when exercised by those hostile toward Christianity. However, this is not how all Jews feel.

From audiences around America, I am encountering bitterness at Jewish organizations insisting that belief in the New Testament is de facto evidence of anti-Semitism. Christians heard Jewish leaders denouncing Gibson for making a movie that follows Gospel accounts of the crucifixion long before any of them had even seen the movie.

Furthermore, Christians are hurt that Jewish groups are presuming to teach them what Christian Scripture "really means." Listen to a rabbi whom I debated on the Fox television show hosted by Bill O'Reilly last September. This is what he said, "We have a responsibility as Jews, as thinking Jews, as people of theology, to respond to our Christian brothers and to engage them, be it Protestants, be it Catholics, and say, 'Look, this is not your history, this is not your theology, this does not represent what you believe in.'"

He happens to be a respected rabbi and a good one, but he too has bought into the preposterous proposition that Jews will re-educate Christians about Christian theology and history. Is it any wonder that this breathtaking arrogance spurs bitterness?

Many Christians who, with good reason, have considered themselves to be Jews' best (and perhaps, only) friends also feel bitter at Jews believing that "The Passion" is revealing startling new information about the crucifixion. They are incredulous at Jews thinking that exposure to the Gospels in visual form will instantly transform the most philo-Semitic gentiles of history into snarling, Jew-hating predators.

Christians are baffled by Jews who don't understand that President George Washington, who knew and revered every word of the Gospels, was still able to write that oft-quoted beautiful letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, offering friendship and full participation in America to the Jewish community.

One of the directors of the AJC recently warned that "The Passion" "could undermine the sense of community between Christians and Jews that's going on in this country. We're not allowing the film to do that." No sir, it isn't the film that threatens the sense of community; it is the arrogant and intemperate response of Jewish organizations that does so.

Jewish organizations, hoping to help but failing so spectacularly, refute all myths of Jewish intelligence. How could their plans have been so misguided and the execution so inept?

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that nothing confuses one's thinking more than being in the grip of the two powerful emotions, love and hate. The actions of these Jewish organizations sadly suggest that they are in the grip of a hatred for Christianity that is only harming Jews.

Today, peril threatens all Americans, both Jews and Christians. Many of the men and women in the front lines find great support in their Christian faith. It is strange that Jewish organizations, purporting to protect Jews, think that insulting allies is the preferred way to carry out that mandate.

A ferocious Rottweiler dog in your suburban home will quickly estrange your family from the neighborhood. For those of us in the Jewish community who cherish friendship with our neighbors, some Jewish organizations have become our Rottweilers. God help us.

    Radio talk-show host Rabbi Daniel Lapin is president of Toward Tradition, a bridge-building organization providing a voice for all Americans who defend the Judeo-Christian values vital for our nation's survival. For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Jennifer Brunson at (206) 236-3046.

  • For articles from February 7 through February 13, see Previous Countdown articles VII

  • For articles from February 5 through February 6, see Previous Countdown articles VI

  • For articles from February 2 through February 4, see Previous Countdown articles V

  • For articles from Tuesday January 27 through February 1, see Previous Countdown articles IV

  • For articles from Sunday and Monday January 25-26, see Previous Coundown articles III

  • For articles from Thursday January 22 through Saturday January 24, see Previous Countdown articles II

  • For articles from Friday, January 16 through Wednesday January 21 see Previous Countdown articles I
  •    See the movie trailer for Mel Gibson's phenomenal movie The Passion of The Christ. We also urge you to please support his releasing this powerful movie in the way he needs to, by being faithful to the literal words of the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Please sign the PETITION which will help this noble cause and encourage your friends and neighbors to sign as well. Help Mel fulfill Our Lord's command in Mark 16: 15-16. Traditional Catholics and committed Christians can make the difference!

    DAY TO GO!

      February 24, 2004
      vol 15, no. 55