.- After a private screening in the Chilean capital, bishops and priests expressed support for the movie The Passion of the Christ, rejecting accusations of anti-Semitism and explaining that the violence in the film is faithful to the Gospel. They are encouraging Chileans to go to theaters to see it and reflect on the love of God.
20th Century Fox organized the special screening at its offices in advance of the film’s March 18 release.
Bishop Juan Ignacio González of San Bernardo said those who saw the film expressed positive comments. “I think it is an excellent film to see during Holy Week to really enter into the subject. It personally impacted me greatly and I think it will impact people greatly as well,” he said.
Auxiliary Bishop Andrés Arteaga of Santiago said he felt “the movie is very powerful. I was moved, it’s remarkable. Although I expected something even stronger from all the talk about it. It is a film I believe will be good for many people. I was most moved by the attitude of the Virgin Mary and how Jesus looked at her, at those who betrayed him and at those who handed him over.”
Bishop Arteaga said there is no need to worry about the Jewish community.
Those who betrayed Jesus were his friends, his disciples. The religious authorities were divided as were the people. The Gospels speak of this as well. Moreover, the Church is very clear about the fact and interpretation of the Passion of Christ,” recalled the bishop.
According to Bishop Arteaga, “After you see the film, you are left with the feeling of something remarkable, which is the life of Christ. It’s a film that speaks of His voluntary sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. One leaves with the urge to struggle against injustice, and in the case of a Christian, to be more faithful to Jesus Christ.”Emotional
The Vicar General of Santiago, Fr. Rafael Hernández, revealed he broke down in tears. “The realism of the film moved me deeply. I very much liked the acting, especially of Jesus and Mary. They didn’t seem like actors, they seemed natural,” he said.
“As a movie it can only be an approximation, some things are interpretations, such as the flashback to the childhood of Jesus, for example. Although one can say, ‘Yes, it could have been that way’,” he said.
“In some way the movie makes one re-live and fully grasp what the death of Jesus was, like losing your parents and then seeing a movie about them. You become moved knowing that they are dead, because you re-live it,” he added.Faithful to the Gospel
Youth Ministry leader Fr. Hugo Tagle said the film “is faithful to the historic truth and conforms very closely to the testimonies of the Gospels, especially that of St. John, the dialogue is word for word,” and “you can say that every scene has something to do with the Gospels.”
Fr. Tagle said, “There are very beautiful and elegant scenes. Behind this film is someone with a very pure soul who has sought to be faithful to what the Lord’s Passion could have been.”
Fr. Juan Díaz, who is the Vicar for Education for the Archdiocese of Santiago, underscored that “the film is violent, but that’s the way it was. I believe the death and suffering of Christ was very violent and as such the movie depicts these moments accurately.”
Fr. Samuel Fernandez, dean of the School of Theology at the Pontifical University in Santiago, said the movie “is remarkable and very well done from an esthetic point of view and faithful to the Gospels. The fundamental issues are depicted very well.”
Regarding the violence, Fr. Fernandez said, “It’s not that the film seeks to be more violent than the Gospels, which are much understated and sober in their depictions but nevertheless convey the crudeness of the Passion.”
When asked if Gibson’s film was too violent, Fr. Fernandez said, “If the film was called ‘Jesus’ I would say yes. But since it is called ‘The Passion’ they are saying it is about the Passion. I don’t think it is over-the-top.”