Tuesday, August 05, 2003

For those interested, the Catholic scholars who viewed the script of Mel Gibson's movie have made a very judicious statement,Dramatizing the Death of Jesus. They emphasize that, "Our evaluation was founded upon magisterial teaching documents of the Catholic Church, which were extensively quoted in a four page appendix in our eighteen-page confidential evaluation. Suggestions that our criteria for evaluating the screenplay were not authoritative Catholic teaching compromise the magisterium's absolute rejection of the long-lived 'Christ-killers' libel against Jews, a rejection enshrined in the Second Vatican Council declaration Nostra Aetate and subsequent Vatican and episcopal conference documents."

The crucial paragraph from Nostra Aetate reads as follows: "Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (see Jn 19:6), neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion.  It is true that the church is the new people of God, yet the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy scripture. Consequently, all must take care, lest in catechizing or in preaching the word of God, they teach anything which is not in accord with the truth of the Gospel message or the spirit of Christ." The Boston College website provides links to further Catholic statements, made since the declarations of Nostra Aetate in 1965.

The Catholic scholars end with the pointed comment that "In this era, when ancient Christian antisemitic motifs are being recirculated widely because of international conflicts, any Christian producer of a dramatic presentation of the death of Jesus has a considerable moral responsibility."

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