Rome, Italy, Jan 11, 2004 / 22:00 pm
Last Friday, in his usual "Word from Rome" column of Vatican news and gossip, the National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican correspondent, John Allen, confirmed the Pope’s positive reaction to Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of Christ.”
In his Jan. 9 column, Allen responded to recent controversy and contradictory reports in the press about the Pope’s reaction to the film.
In a breaking news piece on the NCR Web site Dec. 17, Allen reported that Pope John Paul II watched the movie in his private chambers. Citing an unnamed senior Vatican official, Allen reported that the Pope reacted to the film with the statement, "It is as it was,” meaning that the Pope believes the film is an accurate depiction of the last 12 hours of Christ's life.
Moments later, The Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan posted her own story in which she too quoted the Pope with the same words. She, however, cited the Pope's private aide, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, as the source, as relayed to her through the movie's producer Steve McEveety.
While the story and the Pope's quote was picked up by major news agencies, other reports were published, also quoting Vatican officials, saying that the Pope never said, “It is as it was.”