Cardinal Sfeir Says Gibson's Film Isn't Anti-Semitic

BEIRUT, Lebanon, MARCH 15, 2004 ( Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, says that Mel Gibson’s film «The Passion of the Christ» is «not anti-Semitic at all.»

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The prelate also said the film is «very tied to the facts, very moving and painful» to watch, according to AsiaNews.

Some Jewish groups branded the film, which depicts Jesus’ passion and death, as anti-Semitic.

The Lebanese patriarch commented on Gibson’s film after attending a special screening in Jounieh.

«The scenes of Christ’s last 12 hours of suffering before being crucified are very realistic indeed,» he said. «Now, Lebanese have the opportunity to see just how much Christ suffered and had to pay to forgive all the sins of mankind.»

In Brazil, Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo of São Salvador also lent his support to the film.

«The film is a faithful rendition of Jesus Christ’s passion and death,» said Cardinal Agnelo, president of the Brazilian bishops’ conference. He saw it in a private viewing Tuesday in the capital, Brasilia.

By the third weekend after its release, «The Passion» took in a staggering $264 million in North American theaters, according to Agence France-Presse.

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