February 8, 2004
vol 15, no. 39

The Countdown Continues!
    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 7

'It is as it was' wasn't because, as it is, they're still coming up with more excuses to claim it never was!

    Editor's Comments:

       Below is an account from INSIDE THE VATICAN Magazine just released which includes an article by their 'good friend' Sandro Magister. Regardless, the whole point comes down to the waffling trend the Vatican has been famous for of late, as John Vennari affirmed in this issue Thursday, that "the more they deny, the more they confirm."

       Interesting, is it not that John Paul II greatly and enthusiastically applauded a circus performance the first of the year in the Vatican and just last week hip-hop breakdancers received his hearty endorsement vividly televised and photographed? Is it any wonder another movie "You Got Served" did so well at the box office last week? It was a strictly cultural in-your-face B-minus flick that couldn't hold a cup of popcorn to the cutting floor rejects of Mel Gibson's masterpiece. Yet so many saw the news clips over and over of the Pope approving of breakdancing and hip-hop! You saw his animated gestures and approving smile vividly captured on tape and photos. Frankly, it was a profane display of how low the Papacy has sunk to in celebrating the ridiculous rather than the sublime. Now are the Vatican spinsters going to tell us that what you and I saw with our own eyes and ears was not as it was, that the cameras lied?

      Considering all the excuses listed below by ITV, two very important points are totally missing: First, no mention is made of that little pressure visit by the chief Rabbis of Israel, in town for the Ecumenical Concert. Connect the dots and the dates coincide perfectly with the denial. Secondly, even if, as modern Rome and its puppet media claim with a straight face, the Pope 'cannot endorse an art project' (pardon me, I'm still guffawing) - the fact is he is the guardian of Faith and Morals, or at least he should be! Considering that the content of 'The Passion of The Christ' is entirely pertaining to the Faith and has been faithfully taken from the Douay-Rheims Roman Catholic Bible and supplemented by accounts of an approved mystic in Venerable Katherine Emmerich, I would say this is not an 'art' project, but more a depiction of the True Faith - the Good News - the Gospel of Christ as written and recorded by the four Evangelists under the Divine inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Sorry, folks, I don't see how that would be categorized as mere 'art'!

       No, a Pope of Tradition would enthusiastically say "it is as it was" in referring to an accurate re-enactment of the Scriptures and give his hearty endorsement to the Truths of God's Word. He would be overjoyed that such a powerful venue and so creatively crafted in the manner of the great Michelangelo and Carravaggio was being made available for the whole world. Conversions would be aplenty from this wonderful fruit. Who would not bless and heartily endorse such an achievement of the Faith?

      Answer: this Pope and this regime. For is it true that in addition to basically denying, through the stubborn compromising ecumenical agenda, the Truths and Traditions the Church has always taught from Peter through Pius XII, now modern Rome and, yes, this Pope are denying Scripture? Considering Ratzinger's statements, so well documented by Fr. Lawrence Smith in A Tale of Two Truths that is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

       Sad, but true. No, if the Vatican wants to assert its moral authority, they would do well to confirm that the Pope did say that for the sake of Faith and Morals, not 'art.' But then that would be an admission that Mel's uncompromising depiction of the last twelve hours of Christ is truly as it was. Their friends in rabbinical garb posing as Jewish descendants would not have that nor would their friends in wolves' clothing posing as shepherds for it would be to admit Traditional Catholics are right. And that is something no died-in-the-wool neo-Catholic ostrich or progressive ecumaniac wants to see: a return to the way it was. For whether they want to admit it or not, in the catacomb churches world-wide where the Latin Mass is being said much to the chagrin of the Modernists who wish the Mass of All Ages would just die (as if something Divinely Ordained could) that's exactly how the Faith is growing for nothing has changed: It - the Holy Faith and worship - is and always will be as it was! Try to deny that!!!

"It Is As It Was" -- Vatican Intrigue

by Inside the Vatican staff

The Pope and Mel Gibson's film: a review of a mystery

February 6 -- The world continues to wonder what the Pope really thinks of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" following a bizarre series of affirmations and denials in recent weeks over the Pope's alleged comment after seeing the film in a private screening in his chambers in ealy December: "It is as it was." We at "Inside the Vatican" would like to note a couple of points and offer some background reading for those interested in the issue.

    (1) The Pope did view the film "The Passion of the Christ"
    (2) It is not clear which version of the film he viewed, since the film has been in final cutting even in the past few weeks
    (3) The Pope made no public declaration after seeing the film; that is, he issued no statement saying "This is my opinion of Mel Gibson's film 'The Passion of the Christ," and signing it "Pope John Paul II"
    (4) The Pope evidently made a private, personal comment after seeing the film; this is attested to by multiple reliable sources
    (5) That comment was not "It is as it was," since the Pope spoke in Polish, not in English
    (6) Nor was it the Italian for "it is as it was" as some have proposed (“è proprio come avvenne in realtà” = "it's precisely as it actually happened"), again because the Pope spoke in Polish
    (7) Nevertheless, "It is as it was" is probably a fair translation into English, from Italian, from Polish, of what the Pope said privately after seeing the film
    (8) The Pope's remarks, once reported and re-reported in the press and across the internet, began to be seen as something they were not; they were presented as a public papal judgement on the film which gave blanket papal approval of the film
    (9) This fact -- that the words were being seen as something they were not and, for a series of reasons, could not be -- came to the attention of important Vatican officials, and possibly to the attention of the Pope himself (10) It was decided to clarify the fact that the Pope had made no public, complete, definitive judgment on Mel Gibson's film
    (11) But the implementation of this decision, perhaps justifiable in itself, led to a series of enigmatic, sometimes conflicting and always disconcertingly confusing denials by Vatican officials, leaving the matter in unsatisfactory murkiness to the present moment
    (12) This entire incident is now being "spun" (exploited) to bring the operational competence of the present pontificate into question
    (13) The long-term impact of the incident on the way the Vatican is seen, and the papacy run, may be greater than the impact of the controversy on the reception of Mel Gibson's film, which will stand or fall on its own merits.
    --The ITV Editor

Note: An article has just been published in Italy by our old friend Sandro Magister, who writes for the popular Italian secular magazine "L'Espresso." Magister is a capable Vaticanist -- as his articles, which are posted on the web, testify. He is also sometimes of a rather "liberal" bent -- though not always. This has resulted in his acquisition of a collection of sources "inside the Vatican" slightly different from our own.

For this reason, we wanted to draw the attention of our readers to Magister's latest article, but we want readers to be aware that Magister may have his own "axe" to grind.

In essence, there are many, in Rome and throughout the world, who would like the Catholic papacy to be "weakened" in order to allow "centrifugal forces" to have their effect; that is, by weakening the papacy ("the center") the Church will become less "centralized" and this will allow each "region" of the Church to follow its own course.

The proponents of this argue that this will be a positive development because, they say, Rome is "sclerotic" and "not in tune with the times."

A depiction of a Vatican curia in disarray is thus part and parcel of the arsenal being very ably marshalled to argue at the next conclave that this current form of papacy must "yield" to "the signs of the times", that is, to a more de-centralized model -- a weaker, but, as it were, more "up-to-date", "more caring" papacy.

All these things are at stake in this flap over the Pope's reaction to the Gibson film. Here is Magister's interesting article:

Vatican Intrigues: “The Passion,” the Pope, and the Phantom Review

The preview of Mel Gibson’s film sends the curia into confusion. Dziwisz and Navarro speak, and then recant. Opus Dei plays a role as well. And two thunderbolts fall from the heavens

by Sandro Magister

[From “L’espresso” no. 6, February 6-12, 2004]

ROMA – John Paul II seems to have recovered his health a bit. But not the Vatican curia. The men closest to the pope especially have sunk deeper into confusion. The protagonists of the latest mishap are the two men who most govern the pope’s public image: Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz (see photo), his personal secretary and deputy prefect of the pontifical household, and Opus Dei numerary Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office.

The stumbling block was Mel Gibson’s recent film on the passion of Christ. It is a film that has become the matter of international intrigue even before arriving in the theaters. Dziwisz and Navarro had the idea of bringing pope Karol Wojtyla right into the middle of the quarrel. And when they sketched out a retreat, they created a disaster. They denied, both of them, that the pope had ever made the comment that the whole world heard from these very two. But let’s proceed in order.

It was Friday evening, December 5, 2003, and in his dining room John Paul II, together with Dziwisz, watched a big-screen DVD of the first part of “The Passion.” The next day they watched the second part. And the following Monday, December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dziwisz received the four who provided the preview to the pope. They were Steve McEveety, the film’s American producer, and his wife; Jan Michelini, director’s assistant to Mel Gibson, and his father Alberto, former anchorman of Tg 1 and a Forza Italia member of parliament.

Both Michelinis are supernumeraries of Opus Dei. Jan was born, with his twin sister, in 1979, during the pope’s first visit to Poland, and upon returning to Rome it was Wojtyla himself who baptized him, the first of his pontificate. Since that time they have been very close, receiving many heavenly signs. During production, Jan Michelini was struck by lightning while was filming the crucifixion, and he was struck again on December 5, the day the pope previewed the film. On both occasions, he came away unharmed.

The conversation took place in Italian. The Michelinis translated into English for McEveety and his wife what Dziwisz related from the pope. The key phrase is the following: “It is as it was.” Eleven letters to say that the film “is just like it happened in reality.” It’s enough to signal the pope’s total endorsement of “The Passion’s” adherence to the gospels.

That Monday, December 8, Navarro also saw Mel Gibson’s film. A few days went by and, on the 16th, in the United States, “Variety” came out with the scoop: the pope had previewed the film. On the 17th, two important newspapers increased the coverage. In “The Wall Street Journal,” the most famous columnist in America, Peggy Noonan, an old-school Catholic, the author of Ronald Reagan’s most memorable speeches, made public pope Wojtyla’s phrase “It is as it was,” indicating McEveety as her first source, Dziwisz as her ultimate source, and an e-mail sent to her by Navarro as further confirmation. At the same time, in the liberal weekly “National Catholic Reporter,” Rome correspondent John L. Allen Jr. reported the identical phrase of the pope, citing as his source an “anonymous Vatican authority,” to whom he also attributed the following prediction: “There will be conversions on account of this film.”

The next day, “Reuters” and the “Associated Press” assembled further confirmation from the Vatican. And for Mel Gibson’s film, it was a beatification. By mid-December, half of the Roman curia had seen the film and been enraptured by it. Even before the pope’s entry onto the field, two very influential personages had expressed extremely favorable judgments: Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos (“I am ready to exchange all of my homilies on the passion of Jesus for just one scene from Mel Gibson’s film”) and the undersecretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s right hand man, the American Joseph Augustine Di Noia, a Dominican, in a long December 8 interview with the international agency “Zenit.”

Di Noia demolishes point by point the arguments of the film’s detractors. “The Passion” is not anti-Semitic, as say some, but not all, of the Jews of the Anti-Defamation League, or some of the biblical scholars of the U.S. bishops’ conference: in part because the actress who plays Mary, the Romanian Maia Morgenstern, is herself Jewish and the daughter of concentration camp survivors, but most of all because the power of the film lies in its capacity to seize and shake the viewer, every single viewer, and to make him feel, like everyone, himself a sinner responsible for the death of Jesus. Secondly, “The Passion” is not incomprehensible because the dialogue is in Aramaic or Latin: its eloquence rests entirely in the images, like the masterpieces of Michelangelo or Caravaggio, which need no translation. Thirdly, “The Passion” is not for the sentimental: it is a film of robust Catholic doctrine: “For the faithful who see it, going to Mass will never be the same.” In a word, “Th! e Passion” is a very faithful cinematic rendition of the gospel: “It is as it was.”

So what need was there to place the pope in the middle of this worldwide chorus of the film’s supporters that already counted curial prelates and bishops (the most lively being the Franciscan archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput), battle-hardened movements like Opus Dei and the Legionaries of Christ (the agency Zenit falls among these), neoconservative authorities of the caliber of Michael Novak or “Crisis” editor Deal Hudson, neotraditionalist pressure groups like the Institute of Christ the King and High Priest, and continental Catholic networks like the agency “Aciprensa,” which covers all of Latin America?

No; there was no need at all to bring John Paul II into the middle of this: this, at least, is what other Vatican officials think, especially in the secretariat of state. On December 24, Christmas Eve, Cindy Wooden of “Catholic News Service,” the news agency of the United States bishops’ conference, cited two anonymous prelates “close to the pope” who denied that he had made any judgment on the film.

But on January 9, John Allen of the “National Catholic Reporter” again cited his Vatican source, who confirmed that the pope had pronounced the phrase in question, adding new details. And on the 18th, in the “New York Times,” Frank Rich wrote that he had heard in English, from the “Italian translator” of the meeting between Dziwisz and McEveety, that the pope’s secretary had himself added, in commenting on the film, the adjective “incredible.”

Whom should we believe? Dziwisz, in the Vatican, had his back to the wall, and in the end he denied his own words. On January 19, he told “Catholic News Service” that “the Holy Father told no one of his opinion of the film” and that everything attributed to him “is not true.”

It was a madhouse. Jan Michelini reconfirmed his version. McEveety circulated an e-mail from Navarro telling him not to worry and to go ahead and use the pope’s fatal phrase “again and again and again.” Rod Dreher of the “Dallas Morning News” asked for further confirmation from Navarro, and he responded No, his messages to McEveety and others were never his own, they are fakes. But they all come from the same Vatican e-mail address, the same one from which the message disclaiming them was sent. On January 22, the director of the Vatican press office made an official press release: “It is the habit of the Holy Father not to express public judgments on artistic works.” But in private? One thing is certain: in public, the big lies have taken the stage.

    Note: Here is a portion of our own report on the incident in the upcoming February issue of "Inside the Vatican":


    ..Dziwisz told them, they say, that the Pope had reacted positively to the film and had used the phrase “It is as it was” (though it certainly was not “It is as it was,” because the Pope speaks in Polish, not English.) That phrase, at first quietly, then with increasing authority, began to echo around the world to become, as it were, the “definitive papal judgement” on Gibson’s film. But, for evident reasons, a phrase like that cannot be “definitive”; nor can it be “papal” (since judgements on films and all other works of art are not in the Pope’s area of competence, which is the deposit of the faith); nor can it really be characterized as a “judgment” since it is really a spontaneous reaction to a graphic, profoundly moving work of art. By mid-January, evidently, this perhaps inadvertent “mis-understanding” or “mis-use” of the Pope’s words, was becoming a problem...

  • 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!


    February 8, 2004
    vol 15, no. 39