Movie Poster with Swastika Irks French Episcopate

Image That Distorts Christian Cross Deemed “Unacceptable”

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PARIS, FEB. 13, 2002 ( The president of the French bishops´ conference said the poster for Costantin Costa Gavras´ film “Amen,” which depicts a Christian cross elongated into a swastika, is “unacceptable.”

“The blend between the two crosses is explicit,” Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux says in a press statement.

A Nazi officer and a Catholic priest, the two main characters of the feature film, appear next to the cross.

Costa Gavras´ film, which was presented today at the Berlin Festival, is an adaptation of Rolf Hochhuth´s play “The Vicar.” The play, without any historical justification, accused Pope Pius XII of collaboration with the Nazis due to his “silence.”

“The superposition of the Christian cross and the Nazi cross creates an intolerable identification of the symbol of the faith of Christians with that of Nazi barbarism,” the archbishop said. “To alter the meaning of the symbols of faith of so many men and women is a lack of respect that is unacceptable.”

“For Christians the cross is the place above all where Jesus revealed the face of love that goes to the point of sacrificing life itself,” Archbishop Ricard added. “It is in absolute and radical opposition to the Nazi cross, which is the very negation of all humanity.”

“For this reason, I can only painfully express to what point the poster of the film ´Amen´ gravely wounds the sensibility of Catholics. This provocation cannot but be denounced by all those who adhere to human dignity, religious liberty and respect for the faith,” the press statement concludes.

In the film, Costa Gavras recounts the story of Kurt Gerstein (Ulrich Tukur), a German SS officer, and a young Jesuit, Father Ricardo Fontana (Mathieu Kassovitz). The film was produced by Frenchman Claude Berri.

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