Vatican official calls for boycott of "Da Vinci Code" movie

A Vatican official on Friday called for a boycott of the upcoming "The Da Vinci Code" film, saying it contained "slanderous" offenses against Christianity would provoke a worldwide revolt had they been directed against Islam or the Holocaust, an Italian news agency reported.

Monsignor Angelo Amato Pope Benedict XVI's former No. 2 when Benedict was head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith made the comments in a speech at the Pontifical Holy Cross University, which is run by the conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei, the ANSA news agency reported.

"I hope all of you boycott this film," the agency quoted Amato as saying. He said the film, based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, was full of "offenses, slander, historical and theological errors concerning Jesus, the Gospel and the Church."

"Slander, offenses and errors that if they were directed toward the Quran or the Shoah would have justifiably provoked a worldwide revolt," ANSA quoted him as saying. Yet because they were directed toward the Catholic Church, they remain 'unpunished,"' he said.

Church officials have spoken out repeatedly against novel and the upcoming film adaptation, which stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou and is scheduled for release May 19.

In the novel, Jesus in believed to have married Mary Magdalene and had descendants, and that Opus Dei, which is close to the Vatican, and the Catholic Church were at the center of covering it up.

Last year, Italian cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Amato's predecessor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called for a boycott of the book. And earlier this month, the preacher for the papal household, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, denounced theories that make huge profits in denying Church teaching about Jesus an obvious reference to the film.

However, Opus Dei, which is portrayed as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the novel, has specifically refrained from publicly calling for a boycott of the film, aware that bitter criticism of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" helped popularize that movie.

Opus Dei has, however, asked Sony to put a disclaimer on the movie saying it is a work of fantasy. Sony hasn't responded to that request but its spokesmen have repeatedly said the company views "The Da Vinci Code" as a work of fiction that isn't meant to harm any organization.

Amato's comments were the second this week against the film by church officials in Rome.

Earlier this week, the Interior Ministry took down an enormous ad promoting the film that was plastered on the scaffolding of a Rome church after church officials complained that the film was against Christ and the Catholic Church, reports AP.

O.Ch.