The head of the Brazilian Bishops Conference’s Committee for Culture, Education and Social Communications, Bishop Orani João Tempesta of Sao José do Rio Preto said “The Passion of the Christ” “touches people” because it shows “a Jesus who suffers for us.”
Bishop Tempesta said, “In the scourging scenes I saw how Jesus bore our sufferings and the sins of the world. By dying he gave his life for us. Mel Gibson emphasizes this suffering in way we have never seen before.”
“The movie touches people, it brings before our eyes a suffering Jesus who in a certain sense reminds us how much contemporary society is suffering,” he said, adding that although “the film is violent, there is more violence in other places, in society itself, as is proved by the recent attacks we have seen as well as in the media.”
“Some news programs that come on in the afternoon present a type of violence every day that is much more aggressive. In the movie, violence is associated, in some way, with forgiveness and mercy,” he added.
Bishop Tempesta underscored that “the way in which the director handles the suffering of Jesus and the Gospels leads people to reflect on the suffering in our world and that we are called to have a new life.”
“In the end, if Jesus died for our sins so that the world would be better and different, it is our obligation as Christians to make this world a better and more just place,” he added.
On the other hand, Bishop Tempesta acknowledged, “I don’t know what the talk of anti-Semitism was about. Since I was a child I have seen movies on Good Friday about the Passion of Jesus. In Gibson’s film, which follows the Gospel texts, there is nothing historically offensive concerning the Jews. As far as the images go, there is no doubt, for example, that the scourging of Jesus begins with the Romans.”
“At any rate, these interpretations are subjective and depend greatly on who is speaking. For us Christians, we know that Jesus died for the sins of humanity and not because of the Jews,” he concluded.