DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     December 6, 1999     vol. 10, no. 231

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Response by John Paul II

        VATICAN CITY (ZENIT).- In the new millennium, the cinema could become a herald of a new culture of dialogue and peace, John Paul II said Thursday morning to the participants in the International Congress that two Vatican organizations are dedicating to the silver screen.

        This is the third occurence of an initiative promoted by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Social Communications, which this year is being held with the provocative title, "The Cinema: Pictures for a Dialogue Among Peoples and a Culture of Peace in the Third Millennium."

        When greeting the participants in the meeting, which is being held in the context of the International Spiritual Film Festival in Rome, the Holy Father analyzed how movie actors and directors can best serve the cause of harmony among peoples.

    Quality Films

        John Paul II said that people have the natural propensity to live in peace and in harmony with God, with their fellow human beings, with themselves, and with the whole of creation. If movies become interpreters of these values, they could become the "place of reflection, of calling to values, of invitation to dialogue, and of communion."

        However, this objective seem both distant and ethereal. Therefore, the Pope himself suggested the formula to reach it: "In his complex and mysterious reality, it is necessary that the human person become the reference point for quality films proposing culture and universal values."

        It must be a cinema that keeps people in mind, "every person, one and indivisible," because if on the contrary, it only considers "some aspect of the impressive complexity of the human being, it inevitably ends up being reductive, and ceases to be a beneficial cultural service."

    Responsibility of Entertainment World

        The Pope emphasized the responsibility borne by those who work in the film world. The various cinematographic genres, from science fiction to tragedy, not forgetting cartoons, offer "an incomparable treasure of expressive means to represent the different fields in which the human being is found, interpreting his essential vocation to beauty, the universal, and the absolute. Thus, the cinema can contribute to bringing distant peoples closer, to reconciling persons who are enemies, to favoring more respectful and fruitful dialogue among different cultures, to showing the way to credible and lasting solidarity -- the indispensable assumption for a world of peace. And we are very aware of people's need for peace, even to be a real artist, to make real cinema!"

        Meanwhile, shooting has begun in Jerusalem on "The Body," a movie written and directed by Jonas McCord, denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The plot concerns a Catholic priest, played by Antonio Banderas, sent to the Holy Land to investigate the claims of an Israeli archeologist, played by Olivia Williams, that she has discovered the body of Christ. Banderas denies that the film is intended to offend Christians during the Jubilee year, saying, "You never know with these kind of things ... but we are just trying to just be honest." Writer/director McCord holds that his work is timely and universal. Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah declined to comment. ZE99120221 and ZE99120207

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 6, 1999       volume 10, no. 231


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