A Book on the Impact of Mel Gibson's "Passion"

Interview With Author Giancarlo Padula

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ROME, JULY 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Mel Gibson’s film «The Passion of the Christ» has already changed the lives of many people, says a new book just published in Italy.

The volume entitled, «I Miracoli della Passione» (The Miracles of the Passion), published by LER, Piccola Opera della Redenzione, was written by Giancarlo Padula.

To learn about these «miracles,» ZENIT interviewed the 51-year-old Catholic journalist.

Q: How did you decide to publish another book on «The Passion,» four months after having written another one entitled «The Secrets of ‘The Passion of the Christ'»?

Padula: The preceding work was more centered on the theological, spiritual aspect; on the mystery of Christ, the Son of God who faces tremendous suffering to save each of us personally and the whole of humanity from sin and death. It was a Christocentric book which also examined some aspects of Gibson’s work.

«The Miracles of the Passion» is very different. It is a journalistic report on the effects caused worldwide by the showing of the film. There is talk of conversions, of authentic miracles — conversion is in itself a miracle — of events, situations, comments, reactions.

Q: What miracles does it recount?

Padula: The greatest miracle the Lord can carry out in a person is not only physical or spiritual healing but above all conversion: a profoundly convinced atheist, for example, who accepts Christ and salvation; a callous Texas murderer who repents and turns himself into the police; an Oslo terrorist who confesses to some attacks; an American girl who dies in the bathtub and then resurrects miraculously when her father proclaims the words of the prophet Isaiah, which appear in the presentation of the film: «By his wounds you have been healed.»

Then there are the prodigies experienced by one of those working in the film, who was struck twice by thunderbolts.

Q: In your opinion, have positive comments prevailed over criticisms?

Padula: Without a doubt, the positive have prevailed. In general, throughout the world, including the Muslim countries, of course with distinctions, Mel Gibson’s film has been received as a great work of art and faith.

This work of art has brought about in many persons real changes of life. This is the sign that it is a work willed by the Lord inasmuch as the Word of God is very clear and unmistakable in this respect: «By their fruits you shall know them,» as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke emphasize.

The artistic forms, in particular the visual arts and music, are optimal means and supports for the New Evangelization, as Pope John Paul II has also emphasized.

Q: Are there any other particular episodes?

Padula: Other than those mentioned, which are described in the book, I can mention the conversion of an atheist who, when hearing the account of his daughter, who was very affected by the film, went to see it and came out of the cinema weeping and with a contrite heart.

Q: And you, personally, how did you react?

Padula: I was invited to see the film before it was shown in the cinemas. Some images were still missing. I was not struck by the violence — which in fact follows the events that occurred — but rather by the gentleness and attitude of mind of the actor to cope with the wave of violence that fell on the Son of God to rescue man from sin.

I was struck by Gibson’s hand, which hammers the nail. It is also my hand, every time I commit a sin.

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