Mel Gibson’s Passion

Here’s the latest script for interfaith understanding, produced and presented with the help of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: swipe a draft of Mel Gibson’s script for The Passion, get some revisionist scholars to look it over, and leak their report to the press. The result of the effort is that what is apparently a straightforward re-enactment of the Gospel narratives becomes for Andrea Peyser, a Jewish columnist for the New York Post, a collection of antisemitic slanders. I would think that the function of the USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs would be, among other things, to advance understanding of the Gospel among Jews. Is that what it’s doing?

The relations between Catholics and Jews are a difficult business, but since the difficulties aren’t going to vanish the sensible thing is to keep a cool head and stick to fundamental principle. It’s right to examine ourselves for attitudes that might contribute to catastrophes like the Holocaust or the Gulag. What’s not right is to turn eradication of everything that can be associated with such events into an absolute command of morality. For example, the view that some social institutions are bad and should be done away with, that oppression by the rich of the poor is wrong, and that Christian hierarchs have sometimes done what they should not do facilitated the communist murder of 100,000,000 innocents. Those views are not therefore wrong. Nor are Jews evil, simply because so many Jews have been communists.

Similarly, the authoritative traditional scriptures and beliefs of the Catholic Church are not wrong simply because they interpret sacred things in a sense radically opposed to the Jewish interpretation and therefore put the Catholic Church and the Jewish community at odds in an enduring and fundamental way. That remains true even though the opposition between the two has contributed on the human level to wrongs comparable in enormity to the wrongs perpetrated by the communists. Nor, in spite of the apparent view of the scholarly advisors to the USCCB, is there anything wrong with a straight presentation of the Gospel accounts of the Passion—which are central to the Catholic faith—simply because they raise the issue of the opposition between Judaism and Christianity and take the side of Christianity. We do not have it in our power to eliminate all oppositions. What is in our power is to attempt to live in charity with conflicts we cannot avoid. Whether Gibson’s Passion does so we cannot know until it is released. If it does not it will betray its subject. Let us hope and pray it is truly faithful.

32 thoughts on “Mel Gibson’s Passion”

  1. I only hope the profound
    I only hope the profound power of this film will not be diminished by the use of subtitles. They will only distact from the important.

  2. Agreed that it’s an
    Agreed that it’s an interesting idea to do it without subtitles. It’s rather like the traditional use of Latin as a liturgical language. It emphasizes the unchanging meaning of the singular event, and also the importance of what is done as opposed to anyone’s updated story about what is done.

  3. As one of those hidebound
    As one of those hidebound Catholics who prefers his Mass (and all liturgy) in Latin and in the traditional form, I have a hope of my own for The Passion. I wonder if Gibson, reputed to be a devote of the traditional Mass himself, shares it.

    If The Passion is a powerful and faithful representation, I hope – through its use of Latin, a language of unequalled power and grace – that it will excite an interest among Catholics in the traditional Latin worship and devotions the Church has lost since Vatican II and the imposition of the Novus Ordo Missae in the vernacular.

    The Church is riven by scandal and buffeted by modernism (nothing new there). To recover, it will need true unity – not in superficials such as national bishops’ conferences agreeing with each other about the blessings of mass third-to-first world immigration, but in the essentials of faith and worship.

    As Mr. Kalb notes, Latin can be (as we know – it was for millennia) a powerful unifier of the Church. We need that help today. One effect, easily foreseen, of offering the Mass in assorted vernaculars was that different countries’ forms of worship would come to differ. Given the laxity written into the Novus Ordo, liturgical decomposition was almost assured, along with simple (deliberate?) mistakes. In English, think of “we believe” for “credo” and “for all” for “pro multis” – both mistranslations that distort meaning. A return to a true Church Universal requires a return to a universal language of worship. Only Latin will do.

    Organizations such as Una Voce, the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, Latin Mass Magazine, the FSSP and others try manfully to revive interest in the Church’s traditional worship, but they face tremendous obstacles, many within the hierarchy itself. Maybe The Passion will awake a passion for their tradition among Catholics, and awaken an interest in Catholicism among non-Catholics. HRS

  4. Despite the massive
    Despite the massive disinformation campaign put forth by Mel Gibson’s production company, the group of scholars who reviewed the script were given the script by its author. The substance of the group’s problems with the script include:

    – use of Latin instead of Greek as the lingua franca of Roman Judaea;

    – uncritical use of the Gospels’ accounts, not accounting for the internal inconsistencies between the Gospels’ account;

    – use of the visions of certain 18th-century nuns (inlucding Sr. Anne Catherine Emmerich) to flesh out the story in the Gospels;

    – use of antisemitic imagery and language, not present in the Gospels, which contradict the Church’s teachings on antisemitism.

    These positions are perhaps not surprising in the film created by Gibson, whose father rejects the philosemitic principles, and vernacular masses, of Vatican II.

    See the article in the New Republic by Paula Frederiksen, one of the scholars in the group which reviewed and critiqued the film.

  5. I think those scholars who
    I think those scholars who are already critical of a movie which is still unfinished have jumped the gun and their leaks to the press show them to be quite trite. They are merely a collection of like minded people who think a certain way about Catholicism and Judaism rather than any authoritative group from either faith. The fact that the ADL is getting all worked up is also rather trite. I seem to recall everyone lecturing Roman Catholics on the importance of being open minded and tolerant when the ‘Life of Brian’ and ‘The Last Temptation’ were released and I think these scholars/ critics could do with the same advice. To say that the a story about Roman rulers and Jewish clergy conspiring to murder some poor (some would say deluded) chap (who himself was Jewish)is anti-semitic is utter nonsense and they are merely building up the movie to be a ‘must see’ flick amongst the rubbish Hollywood has been trundling out lately. I think it is an important story which might portray accurately just how brutal the Roman Empire was but I am only guessing. These critics have already shown their own hand and are really putting their organizations in a bad light by comining out with their guns blazing without the target being fully formed. Dragging Mel’s eccentric father into the fray doesn’t say much for them either. I know plenty of old Jewish men who are just as nuts and just as racist. I for one think the film will probably be very interesting and I am completely anti-theist. I think that ‘Braveheart’ and ‘The Patriot’ are completely innaccurate revisions of history but they both represent certain points of view which derserve to be out in the public domain. I don’t recall any English scholars gathering together to piss on the films before they were released. I think this sort of organized censorship will cause and justify more anti-semetic sentiment the movie itself. Why can’t people use a little artistic license which might offend some people. Mainstream Hollywood does it all the time and I support their right to do so.

  6. I think the kind of
    I think the kind of objections to the movie and the people who are making them speak volumes about the project. With these kinds of enemies from the left and “politically correct” crowd, the movie is bound to be a success and no doubt has something important to say.

  7. This movie is, for sure,
    This movie is, for sure, going to bring about great numbers of conversions, beginning with Catholics and other Christians who are away from their faith. And perhaps quite a few non-Christians will feel interested and even moved by it, sufficiently enough to take a serious look about what Christianity is all about. To the current trend of leftist and liberal God-hating hysteria those are really bad news. No wonder they will try to oppose it with all they can. They know well how dangerous for a God-hating society this movie will be. Everything they say to oppose it are just smoke screens to cover the terrible -for them- truth. That is why their explanations look so feeble and idiotic, because they are just masks to cover the real truth: they hate it will all their hearts. ’cause they know it’s going to have a tremendous spiritual success.

  8. Mr.Gibson–


  9. The term
    The term “anti-semite”/”anti-semitic” is being flung so indiscriminately that it is losing any power to offend anyone but the users of the terms. Mel Gibson should not allow JADL’s use of blame on his work to discourage The Passion from reaching public screens in its original vision/version. Let us the viewers decide whether or not we love his film, not Mr. Foxman et al who announce as “anti-semitic” every valid view, even on people who object to, say, Ariel Sharon’s occupation policies.

  10. I’m praying for Mel that he
    I’m praying for Mel that he keeps the movie “Catholic” and doesn’t bend over for the Jews who have rejected Our Lord & God, Jesus Christ. It’s obvious they want to “change” the truth of Christ for a lie and downplay their role in his death and blame it entirely on the Romans. Lie, lies, and more lies


  11. The Jews didn’t kill God
    The Jews didn’t kill God Cindy. Nor did they have a pivotal role of in his death. This has been the belief of the Vatican for sometime now. Furthermore the aggressive tone and choice of wording demonstrated in your writing seems contrary to the Christian Spirit. And is exactly the type of subtle bigotry that some Jews accuse Christians of exhibiting towards them. So go look up the definition of “Catholic” again.

  12. One’s attitude has nothing
    One’s attitude has nothing to do with the facts. The only facts available, the only first hand accounts, come from the Bible. According to the Bible, since the Romans under Pontius Pilate were ultimately in charge, they must bear the theoretical responsibility for that. However, it was the Jews who first arrested Jesus, tried him (if you could call it that) and condemned him. However, they had to involve the Romans because the Sanhedrin could not carry out a death sentance. When Jesus was given to the Romans they found nothing wrong with him. Pilate himself tried to convince the people to accept the crucifixtion of another man, a revolutionary he would have loved to be rid of, but the Jews demanded that it be Christ who was put to death.

    Frankly, the Romans did not seem to care much one way or the other. The charge that Jesus was a dangerous subversive was clearly ridiculous. I can imagine Pilate laughing at the thought of the poor, penniless carpenter being made out as a threat to the Emperor of Rome, sitting in his luxurious marble palace surrounded by legions of soldiers. They simply did it to pacify their conquered subjects. And though they will probably remove it from the film, it was the Jewish mob who said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children”. Like it or not, those are the facts. He came to his own and his own would not have him.

    This is more a case of personal responsibility. I have never agreed with anyone using the excuse of “the movie made me do it”. Brutal films are painful, mostly because the truth hurts. Alot of war movies are like that; violent, gory and sad, but that is the truth of war and it is ugly. Do we each take responsibility for our actions, or do we censor what could cause problems-that is the root of the problem. Films have often been blamed for causing violence (A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, Natural Born Killers etc), so in the case of The Passion, the simple choice is whether we censor the movie for fear of what could happen, and admit that “there ought to be limits to freedom” or do we show it ‘as is’ and demand that any deranged “Christian” who attacks a Jew over it take responsibility for their own actions?

  13. This movie is supposed to be
    This movie is supposed to be made exactly like the Gospels tell the story so…if you fight this movie you fight the Gospels and consequently you fight Almighty God. And why is it that everyone is so sympathetic with the Jews when they deny that Christ is the Son of God? Remember people Christ said “no one goes to the Father but through me” and “If you do not believe that I am He you will die in your sin”. It is not simply o.k. to reject Christ as the Messiah and guess what?…the Jews reject Him!!!!….so who cares what they think about the movie?….God bless!

  14. All I know is that in the
    All I know is that in the end, we will be Judged by God and not man.

    I hope Mel Gibson’s movie unites all of us instead of making every faith fight and place blame on each other. Like Mel Gibson said, it is what happened, he did not change anything.

    I just wonder why, when it comes to religion, there is such an uproar? When it comes to these other movies Hollywood produces (violence, sexual, etc), everyone feels the Director/Producer is just “showing his creativity”.

    Lets all keep an open mind when this movie comes out. I do not think God is going to be “politically correct” when it comes down to judging us. He gave us the ten commandments to follow and that is what we should be doing.

    I stand behind Mel Gibson and pray to God that his work will unite us.

  15. To Thomas Aquino. You are a
    To Thomas Aquino. You are a typical brainwashed fool. Sounds to me that you fully believe that Christ is the only messiah. You are forgetting millions of other that belong to other faiths and beliefs, including Muslims, Budhists, Atheists, Hindus etc. Jews are stoic people that survived for thousands of years and did not accept conversions like you, pig eating Aquino, a rice ball Christian or Hispanic Mezo American convert. Jews, unlike christians did not shoot or persecute people for their belief or religion. You are a despot who hates Jews and does not practice real Chrisianity of peace and coexistance with others.
    You collectively blame current generation of millions of REAL people for a “crime” that is not even known to be true ? It sounds to me that you are poised to kill Jews if you only you had the opportunity. Real christians should avoid you like a plague, perhaps you should join Osama to find your God. Christians, shame on you for producing people like Aquino.

  16. I find it absolutely
    I find it absolutely astounding that people are so afraid of an idea that they are trying to censor a film that hasn’t even been released yet. The Gospel narratives (inconsistencies notwithstanding) do tell us that the Jewish religious hierarchy wanted Jesus dead because they feared that the popular demonstration of Palm Sunday might break out into full-blown revolt and bring the whole weight of Roman rule down on them.

    As for those who doubt that the events happened, the Bible (and especially the Gospels ) are more throroughly authenticated than any other ancient texts.

  17. Hi,

    Im from Melbourne

    Im from Melbourne Australia. I obviously havent seen Gibsons movie. But I have seen lots of photos. I would suggest that the film is an exercise in sado-masochistic pornography.

    John Forth

  18. I am still a supporter of
    I am still a supporter of the besieged Mel Gibson and his movie. But Mr. Forth’s observation does reflect concern I suspect many of the film’s supporters, including myself, share. I hope it is clear once the movie is viewed that any rawness is justified and is not aimed at titillation (by the Studio) for the sake of earning more money. Raw movies such as Saving Private Ryan and the modern version of The Thin Red Line (with Nick Nolte) are beneficial. Although financial matters no doubt influence the making of every movie, these movies attempted to teach an important lesson. They asked (“asked” because we can leave in the middle) us to deal with things we don’t want to deal with. Young men who want to be warriors gain knowledge by seeing such movies before they make rash decisions to become warriors based on visions of glory or the pride military uniforms generate. Other people gain by seeing what they are subjecting their warriors to.

    Christians will gain, hopefully, by seeing that God loves his children so much that he allowed his only son to endure the horror this movie supposedly portrays.

    G’day everyone. I am pleased to see Australians contributing.

  19. Praise “Schindler’s List”
    Praise “Schindler’s List” for it’s brutal realism and never be opposed by the Jewish. Praise “The Passion of Christ” for the same reasons, and expect to be shot down by the Jewish. It’s great that free speech is exercised so well in American society (ie; KKK and Neo-Nazi marches etc.). What isn’t so great is that the forementioned get to speak their minds and a potential film masterpiece is condemmed before even speaking it’s message. Now, in order to clarify my position, I don’t support any organizations like the forementioned but, what a sad society it is when a small group of objectioners think themselves favorable to censor any artform on the basis of their own personal opinions. MEL, LEAVE THE FLICK THE WAY IT IS, I’LL STILL BE STANDING IN LINE WHEN IT’S FINALLY RELEASED. That’s because I do, in fact, have my own opinion and I don’t let my beliefs get diluted by the opinions and ideals of others. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!(including the Jewish.)

  20. Christ was a Jewish person.
    Christ was a Jewish person. It follows that attacking Jewish people is an attack on Christ. Attack the views of individual Jewish people not the mythical view of all Jewish people. This prevents Christ and other innocent Jewish people from being attacked.

  21. What am I a saying. Christ
    What am I a saying. Christ IS a Jewish person. Let’s not forget the first Pope and the eleven trustworthy apostles.

  22. It also would be helpful to
    It also would be helpful to remember that a particular view prevalent among Jewish people is almost certainly a view prevalent among non-Jewish people.

  23. If anyone expects an issue
    If anyone expects an issue that has divided the Jewish and Christian world for almost two millenniums to be settled any time soon, they are living in cloud cuckoo land.

    Those that have religious convictions, often hold them dear and sometimes fiercely, so who is surprised that this moving picture pokes the still smouldering embers of an ancient tribal conflict into life?

    What is sickening, is the fact that some racists who insist that they’re good Americans (yeah, right!), jump on the bandwagon to kick their enemies in the teeth while their backs are turned (I know!).

    What happened is no fault of anyone living today, and to take hate in the service of vengeance and fashion it into a tool with which to poke out the eyes of the innocent is evidence of a severe psychotic sociopathy and an almost complete lack of mental equipment.

    Christians especially, ought to remember that their is a religion of reocnciliation: reconciliation of man to God, and reconciliation of man to man.

    When this is absent or imperfect, there is no Christianity, only a dark sham of it, and such as these do more violence to religion in general and to Christianity in particular, than any distortion of truths, intentional or through ignorance, can ever do.

    I will be available for further comment AFTER I have seen the film.

    Ronnie Bray

  24. My name is Misty Erickson
    My name is Misty Erickson and I work for Youth for Christ in Holton Kansas. I am so very proud of Mr. Mel Gibson for the stand he is making for Jesus Christ. I was already one of this most avid fans for movies such as Braveheart and We Were Soldiers and more, but this is the BEST! I am so proud of him for standing up for our JESUS!
    My prayers are with him and his family and the film, and we plan to take our clubs, (YFC is an outreach ministry); to the film as soon as it gets to Topeka.
    If there is some way I can help support it other than prayer please let me know!
    Thank you!
    Blessings all over Mr. Gibson, his family and all involved with the making of “The Passion”!

  25. My only reservation about
    My only reservation about “The Passion” is these reports one keeps hearing about how graphic the violence is. From the time I first heard about this film I’ve considered it a must-see. But the more I hear about how graphic the violence is the more I’m starting to have second thoughts.

    Regarding the ADL’s claim that the film will provoke anti-Semitic acts, I feel: 1) the Jewish groups should have been less heavy-handed—somehow they made themselves seem like bullies during that whole affair; 2) As long as Mel Gibson was showing the film to anyone he should have shown it also to any Jewish group spokesmen who wanted to see it, so they could judge for themselves—I don’t like the way he seemed to be keeping it secret from them as if he had something to hide: if they’d had a chance to pre-view it and convinced him certain details might better be changed, where would the harm be in that?; 3)the Christian Community should take the ADL’s concerns very seriously when they say they fear Jews being killed somewhere in the world because of this film. Jews who have expressed concern aren’t asking for the Gospels to be changed, just for certain details to be discreetly de-emphasized. I see nothing wrong with that request if it’s for a good reason like not provoking some maniac somewhere in the world to go out and kill someone.

    The movie is slated for release next month:

  26. I haven’t seen the movie
    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but as I surf it in the internet it seems nice and wonderful. But despite all those troubles and feedback behind, still keep up the good work Mel! We are at your back, still supporting you. I watch all your movies and I’m one fan of yours!!!!! God bless!!
    We are praying for your success in the field you had chosen to pursue as well as for being you as a real person, behind all those cameras and media.

  27. First off, FUCK YOU
    First off, FUCK YOU FANATICAL CHRISTIAN BASTARDS. You erect a facade of religious fervor to try and disguise your ignorance, racism, and antisemitism. Our world will never progress while foul people like you still walk it. Don’t use religious fervor as an excuse for racism and antisemitism. Fuck You and all fanatics like you. Don’t idolize a movie which is entirely based on debasing another type of person. Who are you? Are you insecure? Need to blame your problems, your stupidity on someone else? I’ll be back later in case any of you narrowminded hicks want to try and argue your side. Until then, FUCK YOU

  28. Perhaps it would be helpful
    Perhaps it would be helpful to have software on the server here that would delay comments with stupid words until the editor had a chance to review the comment.

  29. Personal attacks aside, John
    Personal attacks aside, John Doe makes one very good point, if the Passion is truly anti-semitic, then it should be decried by true Christians. However, since the only heroes in the movie (Mary the mother of Jesus, Jesus himself etc.) are Jewish in their ethnicity, calling the film anti-semitic is really quite inaccurate. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the movie is anti-establishment, since the main Jewish villains are Religious leaders. From that standpoint, it could even be argued that the early followers of Jesus and the makers of this film, are actually in strong agreement with John Doe’s comments. Christianity is not a religion of hatred or bigotry. Yes, the Crusades were about bigotry, but these bigots twisted religion to solidify their bigotted views. The recent terrorist acts are examples of evil people twisting Islam to justify their bigotry as well. But this sort of twisting of facts is not reserved for people of faith alone. How about the Nazi scientists who used a twisted view of Darwin to argue for the destruction of the Jews? How about the Manson family using Beatles’ music to justify their murderous impulses? How about the murderers who use their, “abusive,” backgrounds to justify their violent acts or the teen-agers who shoot up their schools because of some supposed message in their music or movies? In short, people who desire to do bad will find a reason for it. To blame Christianity for the evils of the world and to say that the world would be better off without Christians walking in it shows a propensity in the person who wrote it to the same base nature, I believe the Christian doctrine calls it, “original sin.” To quote the zealous, “religious bigot,” at the center of this film, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

  30. Dear John Doe:
    The Passion

    Dear John Doe:
    The Passion of the Christ is not is neither foul nor a disguis of the Christians ignorance. Rather you sir should take a look at what exactly is foul and ignorant and if you do undoutedly it will point back to you and your language. Whatever points you attempted to make in your posting wre lost in the first sentence. WE CHRISTIANS ARE NOT INSECURE, please look inward and as My Lord and hopefully before it’s too late .. your’s also said:
    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    What I mean by this is quite simple, we are not revisionists!


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