January 23, 2004
vol 15, no. 23

The Countdown Continues!

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      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. For advance tickets, see The Passion Tickets

    Posted Jan 23:

    The Pope and Mel Gibson's Film

    The Vatican releases an ambiguous official statement on the Pope's reaction to the upcoming Mel Gibson film on the passion of Christ

    VATICAN CITY, January 22, 2004 -- Hot off the press is an "official" Vatican statement today on the Mel Gibson film. It comes from Pope John Paul II's spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, and was released in Rome this morning to journalists:

      "After consulting with the personal secretary of the Holy Father, His Excellency Mons. Stanislaw Dziwisz, I confirm that the Holy Father had the chance to view the film 'The Passion of the Christ'. The film is a cinemagraphic representation of the historical fact of the Passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel account. It is customary for the Holy Father not to express public judgments on artistic works, judgments that are always open to differing valutations of an esthetic character."

    Here is the original Italian of this extraordinary statement:

      "Dopo essermi consultato con il Segretario personale del Santo Padre S.E. Mons. Stanislaw Dziwisz, confermo che il Santo Padre ha avuto l'opportunita di visionare il film "The Passion of the Christ". Il film e una trasposizione cinematografica del fatto storico della Passione di Gesu Cristo secondo il racconto evangelico. E abitudine del Santo Padre non esprimere giudizi pubblici su opere artistiche, giudizi che sono sempre aperti a diverse valutazioni di carattere estetico."

    The statement, in our view, has a double purpose: it seems to respond to evident pressure to distance John Paul from any direct connection with the upcoming film, while still giving guarded support to the film.

    The statement makes clear its main message -- that the Pope does not make public judgments about "works of art" (evidently because, being of an "esthetic," and not a moral or doctrinal, nature, works of art, like films, are outside, as it were, the Pope's competence).

    But the statement does not reverse the Vatican position, expressed repeatedly in recent months -- notably by Archbishop John Foley, head of the Vatican office for Social Communications (and the man officially charged with watching cultural and cinematic developments), Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos, head of the office which oversees all Catholic priests in the world, and Monsignor Augustine Di Noia, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and thus Cardinal Jolspeh Ratzinger's number two in overseeing Church doctrine -- that the film is deeply moving, worth seeing for all people, and not anti-Semitic. The statement continues this line by saying that the film is a representation of what the Gospels say occurred in the final hours of the life of Christ, i.e., that the film is not a distortion of the Gospels.

    But here's the key point: the statement stops short of saying "John Paul II did not say 'It is as it was' after viewing the film."

    Thus, the statement, which evidently is attempted to clarify a very confused situation, leaves unclear the most important question, which people are now asking all around the world: Did or did not the Pope say, after viewing the film on December 5 and 5, 2003: "It is as it was"?

    Posted Jan 22:

    Be Ready: The Passion of The Christ is a Film that will truly be life-changing

    Movie Review by Thomas Minarik

    January 21, 2004 (AgapePress) - Silence. Absolute stunned silence. Not even a whisper. Only an intermittent sniffle and a few deep sighs. That was the reaction of 50 or so guests and journalists, including myself, who watched a private screening in Washington, DC, of an unfinished version of The Passion of Christ, produced by actor Mel Gibson.

    As the movie ended and the screen went black, the audience was collectively dumbstruck at the realization that what they had watched was more than just a good story portrayed by a cast of good actors. It was much more profound than that. It was, in truth, nothing less than each viewer's personal encounter with the terrible consequence of sin -- and not someone else's sin, but his or her very own.

    The image of a remorseful Julia Marchmain comes to mind. In his novel Brideshead Revisited (a classic piece of literature which retells the story of sin, remorse and conversion), author Evelyn Waugh includes a scene in which Julia breaks into a fit of hysteria when her brother matter-of-factly tells her she is "living in sin" with her lover. For the first time in her life, the free-spirited Julia comes to grips with the ugliness of sin. In trying to explain her tears to her lover, Julia tells him that her decision to live with him in spite of the fact they are not married is indeed "my sin." She weeps bitterly because the mask she had placed over her comfortable lifestyle was ungraciously ripped off, exposing her disfigured soul, which was designed to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

    It is much the same with The Passion of Christ. But in this case, Mel Gibson plays the role of Brideshead and every member of the audience is Julia, masking our comfortable lifestyles in order to cover our sins and minimize their consequences. Like Brideshead, Gibson uses the graphic and bloody imagery of The Passion of Christ to literally rip off that mask and force us to confront the reality that it was our sins which caused the innocent Jesus to suffer so terribly.

    Throughout the movie, one by one, our sins are exposed before our riveted eyes through the actions of various persons of the Gospel: our laziness (the Apostles in the Garden); our betrayals (Judas); our denials (Peter); our lusts (the brutal scourging at the pillar); our cowardice (Pilate); our pride (the leaders of the Sanhedrin); our apathy (Herod); and our fears masqueraded as courage (the unrepentant thief on the cross). The experience is both overwhelming and shaming.

    Try as we might to resist, The Passion of Christ will not allow us to hide our eyes from the terrible, brutal and bloody consequences of our own sin. So much so that you will want to cry out to heaven, "Oh, my God, what have I done?" only to hear Our Lord say, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And that's what makes this movie truly life-changing.

    Many noted film directors have attempted to render to celluloid the greatest story ever told. Franco Zeffirelli did a superb job with his Jesus of Nazareth. But no film retells the last 12 hours of Jesus' life like Gibson's does. The Passion of Christ is so powerful and so literal that it reaches out from the screen and grabs the viewer by the collar, shakes him and shouts, "See! This is the reality of sin!"

    No wonder Our Lord told those He forgave, including us today, to "go and sin no more!" He knew the price He would willingly pay. He would feel the sting of the soldier's whip. He would experience the pain of the punches. He would endure the torn ligaments and muscles. And ultimately He would suffer separation from the Father.

    Is the movie controversial? Without question, it is. But the real controversy isn't over the widely reported allegations of anti-Semitism. In fact, Gibson has gone the extra mile, even omitting some words of Scripture which, although historical and accurate, might give credence to the false accusations. Besides, viewers might use those words as an excuse to point the finger of blame for Christ's passion and death away from themselves and onto someone else.

    And that is precisely what The Passion of Christ will not allow any viewer to do. Mel Gibson rightly places the blame for the brutal death of Jesus squarely where it belongs -- on each of us. And that's what makes the movie controversial.

    This Lenten season, do not miss The Passion of Christ, and don't let your friends miss it. But a word of caution: When you do pick a date to view it, don't make plans to go to dinner afterward. You won't have the stomach for it. Instead, go home, find a quiet place and pray.

      This article appeared originally in the January 2004 issue of AFA Journal, and is reprinted here with permission.
    Posted Jan 21:

    Mel Gibson Rebuts Vatican Denial

    NEWSMAX.COM   Monday, Jan. 19, 2004

    Mel Gibson's spokesman issued a statement late Monday saying there is no reason to believe the Vatican's denial that the Pope commented favorably about the controversial film "The Passion of the Christ."

    Associates of Gibson quoted the pope as commenting, after viewing the film, "It is as it was."

    Since then, questions have swirled about the papal statement, and the pope's remarks angered critics of the film, who claim it will arouse anti-Semitism. The film is set for release on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday.

    On Monday, the Catholic News Service, an arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported that the pope "never" made such a statement.

    CNS quoted the pope's longtime personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.

    "The Holy Father told no one his opinion of this film," the archbishop told CNS. But Steve McEveety, the film's co-producer, and Jan Michelini, its assistant director, said they met Archbishop Dziwisz after the papal viewing. Dziwisz told them the pope simply commented, "It is as it was."

    Now, Dziwisz claims, "That is not true."

    "I said clearly to McEveety and Michelini that the Holy Father made no declaration," the archbishop told CNS.

    In a statement issued late Monday, Gibson's spokesman Alan Nierob stated:

    "Based on all previous correspondence and conversations held directly between representatives of the film and the official spokesperson for the Pope, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, there is no reason to believe that the Pope's support of the film 'isn't as it was'."

   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!


    January 23, 2004
    vol 15, no. 23