Papal Praise for “The Passion”

“It Is as It Was,” John Paul II Says

NEW YORK, DEC. 18, 2003 ( Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” gains a new admirer: the Holy Father.

According to various news sources, John Paul II is the latest to see Gibson’s movie on Christ’s passion the weekend before last, in the Vatican, apparently in his private rooms, on a television, with a DVD, and accompanied by his closest friend, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.

Afterward, and with an eloquent economy, John Paul shared with Archbishop Dziwisz his verdict. The latter, in turn, later shared John Paul’s five-word response with the co-producer of the movie, Steve McEveety.

“This is what the Pope said: ‘It is as it was.'”

In a recent piece in the Opinion Journal, columnist Peggy Noonan, a contributing editor of the Wall Street Journal, notes that the Pope joins other leading Church figures, such as Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, who have praised the film and even suggested that all priests see it.

Dominican Father Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told ZENIT in an interview published Dec. 8: “Seeing this film will be an intensely religious experience for many people. It was for me. Stunning cinematography and consistently brilliant acting, combined with the director’s profound spiritual insight into the theological meaning of the passion and death of Christ — all contribute to a production of exquisite artistic and religious sensitivity.”