On the occasion of the release of “The Passion of the Christ” in Argentina on Thursday, March 25, the official Argentinean Catholic news agency AICA requested the opinion of several of the country’s bishops who have had a chance to see the film. The bishops defend the evangelistic value of the movie, thus weakening the comments of various critics.
Archbishop Mario Maulión of Paraná and head of the bishops’ Committee on Social Communications told AICA “The Passion of the Christ” moved him “very deeply” and left him “profoundly impressed.”
“The moments in the life of Jesus are very intensely portrayed in this movie.” “It’s a movie with a clear religious meaning. Any other interpretation one might have, and that some indeed are having, has no basis. Regarding the responsibility for the death of Jesus, the interpretation of the movie is that Jesus did not die to go against anybody, but rather he died for all, for Jews and non-Jews. And this attitude of reconciliation and searching for God is the strongest message of the film.”
Bishop Ruben Frassia of Avellaneda says Mel Gibson’s movie is “astonishing, a cinematographic work of art.” “The sets are amazing, and I loved the original language, Aramaic, and the Latin of the Roman characters.”
He added that the denial of Peter and the portrayal of Judas, in his perplexity and envy, and at the same time in his pain and suffering, were very well done.
“I also loved the portrayal of the Blessed Mother. Mary expresses the dignity and extraordinary willpower of a woman who is aware of the mystery, accompanies it and stands before her Son in spite of her suffering. It is very well done.”
Bishop Frassia emphasized that “the movie does not have an ideological message. Therefore the attacks on the film are unjustified. They miss the meaning of the film: the historical truth and the religious truth.”
Bishop Fernando Maletti of San Carlos de Bariloche told AICA that he experienced the movie as “a catechesis on Good Friday, and because of how it ends, on redemption as well: if the grain of wheat does not die, it bears no fruit.”
He underscored that “there isn’t one iota of anti-Semitism in the movie, and it is faithful to the four Gospels.”
“I believe that we should not be afraid, in our age of easiness, to see how cruel the death of Jesus was, when it is clear that it was for our redemption from sin.” “Personally,” he concluded, “seeing ‘The Passion’ was like a spiritual retreat.”
Archbishop Jose Maria Arancibia of Mendoza was “very stunned” by the movie, which he said can “make people think and re-evaluate the Gospels and the person and message of Jesus. It is profoundly realistic but at the same time beautifully connected to the message of Jesus, to the main themes of his preaching. Love of enemies, the Beatitudes, the Last Supper, the Eucharist, his closeness to the apostles, his relationship with his Mother, are all well done. It’s not only about his cruel Passion.”