The Catholic-Jewish Consultation Committee met in New York April 20 to discuss their respective views of “The Passion of the Christ” as well as Catholic-Jewish relations in the aftermath of the film.
After the meeting, the U.S. bishops and the National Council of Synagogues issued a joint statement May 19. In it, they recognized that Mel Gibson’s cinematic portrayal of Christ’s Passion represents a work of artistic beauty for many Christians.
However, they also recognized that for other Christians and most Jews, the film “recalls the Passion Plays of the past”, which often incited violence against Jews.
The committee agreed that “the film's depiction of the Temple leaders and its essentially ahistorical use of the Gospels could be twisted in an anti-Semitic way.”
Though no major anti-Semitic acts were reported in the U.S., the committee said they received reports of a few incidents where Jews have been called "Christ killers," and where those who criticized the film have received anti-Semitic mail.
They also expressed their concern that the film is being used in some Arab countries to evoke anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish feelings.
However, the report does not mention the numerous conversions reported by both Catholics and Evangelicals around the world.
The statement repeated the Catholic Church’s teaching that “all humanity was responsible for killing Jesus, not just one group or people” as well as the Church’s condemnation of anti-Semitism and rejection of the charge that all Jews, past and present, are responsible for the death of Jesus.
The statement also makes reference to several “helpful resources” created by the U.S. bishops, such as “The Bible, the Jews and the Death of Jesus” and “Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion.”