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The Catholic Church, the da Vinci Code, and "Censorship Envy":

As senior Conspirator Eugene Volokh has warned, one of the dangers of censoring "offensive" speech is "censorship envy." If one group is given the power to suppress speech offensive to it, others are likely to press harder to get the same privilege for themselves. As Eugene points out in the post linked above, many of the European Muslims who sought to suppress the Mohammed cartoons were partly motivated by the fact that many European countries ban Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic speech.

This dynamic is clearly at work in the efforts of some Catholic leaders to ban the Da Vinci Code. As Cardinal Francis Arinze, one of the chief advocates of banning The Code puts it, "[t]here are some other religions which if you insult their founder they will not be just talking. They will make it painfully clear to you." The Reuters article where this quote appears notes that the Cardinal was referring to Muslim calls for censoring the Mohammed cartoons. He and at least one other cardinal "asserted that other religions would never stand for offences against their beliefs and that Christians should get tough [too]."

The cardinals are arguing that, if Muslims have the right to ban speech offensive to them, so too should Christians. Just as the Muslims previously made the same argument with respect to Jews! The rapid spread of "censorship envy" makes it all the more important to crush this vicious dynamic at its roots - by denying EVERY group the power to censor its critics. It is true that some of these critics are more offensive than others. Certainly, Holocaust denial is far worse than anything in the Da Vinci Code. But "censorship envy" ensures that such distinctions are unlikely to deter the spread of repression once it has begun.

Update: It is worth noting that Cardinal Arinze - the leading would-be censor of the Da Vinci Code - is not a minor fringe figure. As the Reuters piece I linked to notes, he was viewed as a serious contender for the papacy when John Paul II died last year. And he will likely be a contender again after the passing of the current pope (who is almost 80 years old).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The Catholic Church, the da Vinci Code, and "Censorship Envy":
  2. Cardinal Wants Da Vinci Code Legally Suppressed:
Lev:

The cardinals are arguing that, if Muslims have the right to ban speech offensive to them, so too should Christians.


And they are exactly correct.


The rapid spread of "censorship envy" makes it all the more important to crush this vicious dymanic at its roots - by denying EVERY group the power to censor its critics.


And that is the only alternative to any single group getting power and censoring everyone else.

It appears the EUnuchs learned nothing from the 20th century.
5.8.2006 12:11am
Shangui (mail):
It's also odd that this is just happening now. The book has been a massive best-seller for years. I assume it is indeed related to the cartoons, but also to the film. In any case, sad to see (and all this over a pretty bad book, too).
5.8.2006 12:36am
reneviht (mail) (www):

He and at least one other cardinal "asserted that other religions would never stand for offences against their beliefs and that Christians should get tough [too]."

Do Catholics really want Christianity to be just like "other religions?"
5.8.2006 12:37am
Cornellian (mail):
He and at least one other cardinal "asserted that other religions would never stand for offences against their beliefs and that Christians should get tough [too]."

Plenty of room under those billowing robes for strap-on explosives. For a more targeted approach, there's always the good old "fatwa against Dan Brown" approach. Just like Jesus would have wanted.
5.8.2006 12:53am
Humble Law Student:
First, the Cardinal is just blowing around a lot of hot air.

Second, he vaguely references "legal action." Nothing is going to come of it. The article mentions that Opus Dei is requesting some sort of disclaimer - hardly chilling on speech.

Additionally, I dont know if you are familiar with Dan Brown but he goes around touting his little theories as fact. There is quite a large substantive difference between cartoons that are obviously satire, and someone else presenting patently false (to most scholars) theories as fact. Not that it still would justify legal action.

Finally, the biggest thing I've heard is they recommend a boycott. A perfectly legitimate free market response. Refusing to buy someone's product is ultimate exercise in expression.

You are going to have to try harder than this to draw out some sort of equivalence.
5.8.2006 1:27am
Joe7 (mail):
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matthew 5:39 (New International Version)
5.8.2006 1:40am
Tocqueville:
The Da Vinci Code is only a novel. It is not a source of serious information, but it does raise some serious questions.

1. Was Jesus Christ really married?
Yes. Jesus was married to the Church. In the New Testament, Jesus is frequently referred to as the Bridegroom, and St. Paul tells us: “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh. This is a tremendous mystery. I’m applying it to Christ and the Church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32) In fact, the Christian vocation is nothing less than an invitation to the eternal “wedding supper” (Rev. 19:9) of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

2. Did the Church really create the New Testament?
Yes. Without the Church, we wouldn’t know which of the many ancient texts that talk about Jesus were inspired by God; we wouldn’t have the New Testament. Jesus Christ directly gave His divine authority not to a group of texts which didn’t exist in His time, but rather to a group of men, the twelve apostles and their successors (bishops), who teach in His name and with His authority.

3. Is sex really meant to be holy?
Yes. That’s why one of the seven Christian sacraments is called Holy Matrimony (the literal meaning of “hieros gamos”). Christian marriage and the priesthood are holy and sanctifying vocations approached through special sacraments (Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders respectively). All the sacraments – like Baptism or the Eucharist, for instance - are outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace, and, in fact, the ministers of this sacrament are the bride and groom themselves.

4. Did Jesus Christ really leave descendents?
Yes. Jesus is God, and He gave all who believe in Him the power to be God’s children. In short, we are His descendents: “See what love the Father has given us so that we might be called children of God – and so we are!… Beloved, we’re now God’s children” (1 John 3:1-2). So forget about the Merovingians. We are the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).

5. Is our culture really missing a figure of female sanctity?
Yes, in today’s world there is such a missing woman. Her name is Mary, and she should be venerated not as the wife of a mortal man but rather as the Mother of God. Happily, she is not hard to find. Hers is the most familiar female face in history, represented in countless works of art. The best place in the world to find grown men and women praying on their knees to a woman, perhaps saying the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is in a Christian church.

6. Should we really pray over the bones of Mary Magdalen?
Yes. Saint Mary Magdalen is honored by the countless churches and women named after her and by a special Mass on her feast day (July 22). In fact, for more than a millennium, Christians have made pilgrimages to pray in the Basilica of St. Maximin in southern France, where a tradition says that Saint Mary Magdalen was buried.

7. Does a Holy Grail really exist?
Yes. The popular story of “the Holy Grail” is a medieval legend, but a non-fictional Holy Grail can be found on the altar during every Mass. What made the chalice of the Last Supper so holy was the blood of Jesus Christ that it contained, and in the Holy Mass, that blood is once again present. This means that every chalice in every Mass is truly a “Holy Grail.”

8. Did a woman’s womb really carry the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
Yes. The uterus of the Blessed Virgin Mary contained not only the blood but also the entire body of Jesus Christ for nine months. That’s why, when they pray the “Hail Mary”, Christians refer to Jesus as the fruit of her womb and praise Mary as a most honorable “Vessel”.
5.8.2006 2:37am
Hoosier:
Wow! And I thought I was the only RC who posts here.

Legal Question:

Humble Law Student raises the question that was on my mind--and, again, I'm not a lawyer, so I have to ask you all: Does the fact that Brown implies that his concoctions are true affect this debate? Could Opus Dei's lawyers take him to court based on his claims about the prelature, adducing his interviews as evidence that the claims in the book are meant to portray the actual role of OD in the Church? You know, as the murdering thugs or whatever . . .?

Broader Question:

I don't want to see the Church take on the role of wounded victim who must be protected from insult. I get tired of hearing anti-Catholic garbage from my faculty colleagues at my university. And it rankles that there are groups--including a religious group, viz., Muslims--who have been able to silence all such talk. (And, after all, we Papists are not blowing anyone up these days. So we really have a lot less to answer for.) But novels and movies have not hurt me or, from what I can tell, the Church in this country. "The Diaries of Maria Monk" don't seem to have cut Church attendance, so Dan Brown probably won't have that effect either. And the Church is in such bad shape in Western Europe that Brown's efforts are superfluous. Hell, it might actually get some people under the age of 70 into church on Sunday, just to see if the priest knocks someone off.

I am all for open debate. Last year, I saw a guy with an anti-Catholic bumper sticker that read: "There's No Hope in the Pope!: Read the Bible." I suppose it's not nice to put stuff like that on your bumper. I suppose it's silly to tell people that, instead of following the Church, they should look to the book that the Church assembled. (I'm with Tocqueville all the way on this one.) But SO WHAT? I shouldn't be guaranteed that no one will ever offend me by insulting my Church and my beliefs. I SHOULD be guaranteed that no one will keep me from practicing my faith, or handing it on to my children. Beyond that, let the debate continue.

On occasion, I find myself a bit embarassed by the "Catholic League," and Bill Donahue's attempts to make American Catholics appear as sensitive to criticism as Jesse Jackson. But I keep coming back to the broader point of the post: Since other religious, ethnic, and gender "groups" go ape-crap every time they feel insulted by a minor character in a movie, it's too much to ask that among 70 million of us RC's in the US, there will be no one who mimics this behavior. Ditto for the 1 billion around the world.

There are limits to what one ought to be allowed to say. If Brown starts claiming that the late Cardinal O'Connor was murdering lesbian Episcopalians, then he should be sued. And other limits should be self-imposed: I have opinions about other religions, but I don't put them on my bumper. But this is a matter of love for my fellow man, and not fear of Arinze; I don't know why I'd *want* to offend any Scientologist who happens to be stuck behind me at a red light.

Jesus said that he would build the Church on the rock of Peter, and that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against Her. So I'm not gonna get panicked by a novel.

AMDG

Hoosier
5.8.2006 7:09am
Just:
Wow. Too bad Jim Lindgren failed to open discussion of the Jimmy Carter piece above, critical of Israel's policies.

The Bulldozer Sharon and the Bulldog O'Connor.
Innocent black children, innocent Palestinian kids.
Assassinated leaders, poisoned leaders?

Glad you had the courage to link to Mr. Carter's editorial, even if you don't yet have the courage to acknowledge smart folkd (non-Jewish) can agree with the anti-Israeli point of view. I mean... where does it end?
They celebrated and "independence" day in Israel last week -- but when will they be "able to stand on their own two feet" without American taxpayer help independent? It's easy to be a bully with a big brother looking out for you.
5.8.2006 7:41am
Just:
ps not to ignore Ilya's thread:

Real Catholics know the DaVinci code is a money-maker, fiction. Not too concerned about a fictional portrayal, but thanks for worrying about Catholics. They usually can take care of themselves though, with little spillover violence or chaos to others standing by.

Maybe worry about the tenets of your own religion(s)? Some people didn't build their house upon the Rock ...
5.8.2006 7:46am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Well, the Catholic Church can hardly throw stones when they tacitly endorse what many people considered an anti-semitic, historically inaccurate, over the top, 2 hour plus snuff film about the crucifiction. Mel Gibson is very coy about his own views on certain historical facts like the Holocaust and his father is a flat out holocaust denier.
5.8.2006 9:10am
Freder Frederson (mail):
I suppose it's silly to tell people that, instead of following the Church, they should look to the book that the Church assembled. (I'm with Tocqueville all the way on this one.)

Actually, the Bible the Roman Catholic Church uses is significantly different from the one most other denominations use (which are mostly adopted from the King James Version with the newer versions going back to the original Greek texts for guidance). Protestant churches adopted native language versions of the Bible much earlier than the Roman Catholic Church (it was one of the bases for Protestantism).
5.8.2006 9:19am
Eric K.:
"Certainly, Holocaust denial is far worse than anything in the Da Vinci Code."

I'm not so sure. For the sake of argument, let's consider that the Da Vinci Code was about a pack of lies at the core of the Jewish faith instead of the Christian faith. Would it be clearly better to claim that the entire Jewish religion is a sham, built on deceit, than to claim that the holocaust did not happen? Does not the former undercut the entirety of what the Jewish people are about, in a way that the latter does not?
5.8.2006 10:01am
Tocqueville:
Actually, the Bible the Roman Catholic Church uses is significantly different from the one most other denominations use.

This simply is not true. The Catholic Bible (identical to the Gutenberg Bible that sparked the Protestant Reformation) is not "significantly different" from other bibles, it is substantially and significantly the same. Before you launch into a Sunday school lesson you should do your homework.
5.8.2006 10:11am
Freder Frederson (mail):
The Roman Catholic Bible contains the Apocrypha, which is not in Protestant (or the King James) Bible. Also, the King James version was an entirely new version from the Greek text, not a simple translation of the Roman (Latin) version into English, so it was a significant departure, and a great slap in the face to the church in Rome. Most of the newer versions go back to the original Greek texts and the the King James version when they are making English bibles. They do not use the official Roman Catholic Bible as a guide.
5.8.2006 10:27am
Freder Frederson (mail):
I'm not so sure. For the sake of argument, let's consider that the Da Vinci Code was about a pack of lies at the core of the Jewish faith instead of the Christian faith. Would it be clearly better to claim that the entire Jewish religion is a sham, built on deceit, than to claim that the holocaust did not happen?

First off, the Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction. And even if the central thesis of the Da Vinci Code were true (which apparently Dan Brown believes) that Jesus was married to Mary Magdeline and had children with her, that doesn't undercut the core of the the Christian faith. It certainly undercuts a lot of the dogma of the Catholic church, especially their abhorrence of the sex act and obsessive belief that if you have sex you are a sinful person and therefore Jesus, nor his mother or anyone around him could have ever had had sex. But I don't see how it undercuts the central tenets of Christianity.
5.8.2006 10:34am
bearing (mail) (www):
Freder:

It certainly undercuts a lot of the dogma of the Catholic church, especially their abhorrence of the sex act and obsessive belief that if you have sex you are a sinful person and therefore Jesus, nor his mother or anyone around him could have ever had had sex.

What is this, Troll Day?

I liked your post, Hoosier. Right on target. You're not the only Catholic who posts here :-)
5.8.2006 10:40am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I understand that this is a work of fiction, but under what conditions could Opus Dei have a hypothetical claim for defamation? Any experts want to give me a quick take on that? (I'm just curious... not in any way endorsing such an action.)
5.8.2006 10:55am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Certainly, Holocaust denial is far worse than anything in the Da Vinci Code.

I would think that accusing a group (wrongly) of doing wrong would always be worse than claiming (wrongly) that a group didn't do (a specific) wrong.

At common law, for example, one could sue for libel for being falsely accused of sending an albino hit man to kill researchers but one could not sue for false defense of mass murder.
5.8.2006 11:17am
Tocqueville:
The Roman Catholic Bible contains the Apocrypha, which is not in Protestant (or the King James) Bible. Also, the King James version was an entirely new version from the Greek text, not a simple translation of the Roman (Latin) version into English, so it was a significant departure, and a great slap in the face to the church in Rome. Most of the newer versions go back to the original Greek texts and the the King James version when they are making English bibles. They do not use the official Roman Catholic Bible as a guide.

When you get to the "significant difference" part, let us know. We're still waiting.
5.8.2006 11:35am
Hoosier:
Fred:

I'm sorry, but you are way off on this one. The so-called "Apocrypha" are in fact the Deutero-Canonical books that have been taken by the Chrisitan community as true scripture since before the canon of the Bible was fixed by the Church (The Eastern Churches have preserved them in their Bibles, as have we Mackerel-Snappers.)

The reason that Luther gave for excluding them from his translation of the Bible was that we do not have original Hebrew texts for these books. (This was, at least, the reason that *he gave.* The problem seemed also to be that the books he excluded contained references that supported Church doctrines that he didn't like. Imagine that. Thus the reason that he also wanted to ditch the Epistle of James. And why he left out the word "alone" when translating a passage on the role of "works" in salvation.)

Our objection to Luther--beyond creative exclusion of difficult passages: when one raises the banner of "sola scriptura," one has no rational basis for excluding a part of *the very scritpure to which one is appealing.* "Scripture is the inerrant word of God, except those parts that I figured out don't belong." Well, we *all* can exclude parts of scriputure that we don't like. But this goes beyond "sola scriptura," and makes it incontestable that we are basing our beliefs on something *outside of scripture.* In which case, I tend to err on the side of 1,500 years of Christian belief and interpretation, since I'm not sure that I alone am the final word on such things.

In addition, let's stipulate that we don't have any of the Synoptic Gospels in the original Aramaic. So Luther stretched things a bit to say that only the originals will do. What originals, for gosh sakes? We have many "original language versions" of the Gospels. To speak of the "real texts" is to mistake how something becomes canonical.

The *biggest error* that Fred makes, however, is that he seems to think that the Catholic Vulagate was . . . well, I'm not sure waht he thinks. Do you think it was written in Latin from Latin sources? It actually was translated from the Septuagint (Greek) version. The Dead Sea Scrolls have largely demonstrated that the Septuagint, and thus the Vulgate, are based on older manuscripts than Luther's (Or King James's) translations. Thus, presumably, they are closer to the original. (See the work of Eugene Ulrich on this. It's technical stuff and hinges on language and wording. So lawyers should love it.)

Finally, the collection of Hebrew scripture that Luther and Protestants in general returned to was an alternative to the Septuagint that was put together as a (hostile) response to the conversion of Hellenized Jews. I understand why First-Century Jews would want to publish an anti-Christian scripture. Why Christians a millenium later would want to adopt it, I have no idea.

JMJ

Hoosier
5.8.2006 11:41am
Public_Defender (mail):
The cardinal's comment gives the Pope a fantastic opportunity to show that he understands tolerance and democracy. The Pope need only say that the movie producers have the right to speak, but that Catholics should exercise their right not to pay to watch the movie.

We'll see if the Pope has enough respect for democracy to do the right thing.
5.8.2006 11:54am
Tocqueville:
We'll see if the Pope has enough respect for democracy to do the right thing.

What on Earth does "democracy" have to do with this controversy? The hyperbole around here is out of control.
5.8.2006 11:57am
Hoosier:
While I'm at it:

1)Re: The Catholic Church and "other denominations." Let's straighten this one out. The Church is not a denomination. In Western Christendom, it is "the Church." It has not "denominated" (Lutheran, Pentacostal, Baptist, etc.), since it is not one of a series. The series began with the Reformation. It is we who remained intact. The Protestant movement splintered and "denominated."

2) Re: KJV was a "great slap in the face" to Rome: Actually, the great slap in the face was the murder of St. Thomas More on perjured testimony, and the murder of St. John Fisher. Oh, and the seizure and closing of the monastaries. And the suppression of Catholicism in Britain. And the murder of Edmund Campion. The translation of the Bible into (I admit very pretty) English came late, and was secondary.

3) The Bible had been translated into numerous vernaculars by the late Middle Ages. But: (A)The Church's universality suggested that scripture and liturgy should be common accross political boundaries; and (even more significant) (B)Literacy was overwhelmingly *Latin* literacy. Only the Latin Bible had a broad, natural readership. So it's not hard to understand why the Vugate remained standard in Catholic precincts of Europe: Those who could read, could read it. Those who could not read were as illiterate in their own language as in Latin. And this was most of Europe.
5.8.2006 12:00pm
Hoosier:
Didn't John Paul I demostrate that the Church has come to terms with "democracy"? You know, with that whole Eastern Europe communism thing?
5.8.2006 12:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Most people don't realize how recently blasphemy laws have disappeared from American statutory law. While I don't support such laws, that these laws survived into the middle of the 20th century without serious challenge should cause people who are convinced that they violate the First Amendment (as violative of free speech, establishment of religion, or free exercise of religion) to think long and hard how no one noticed this problem before. As I pointed out here:

I was startled to find that Maryland as late as 1879 still had a blasphemy law on the books at Art. 72, sec. 189:

If any person, by writing or speaking, shall blaspheme or curse God, or shall write or utter any profane words of and concerning our Saviour, Jesus Christ, or of and concerning the Trinity, or any of the persons thereof, he shall, on conviction, be fined not more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned as aforesaid, at the discretion of the court.


According to the marginalia, this statute was adopted in 1819, and a similar law dates back to 1723. Now, the colonial law doesn't surprise me--but I was a little surprised to see that as late as 1819 the Maryland legislature thought it appropriate to pass such a law. I don't know if this law was still being enforced in 1879, but at least we can see that in 1819 the Maryland legislature thought it was appropriate to pass such a law. I was a bit surprised, because I recall reading about a New York court striking down a blasphemy law around 1815 for violating a state guarantee of freedom of speech.

This is still on the books in 1904, as Art. 27, sec. 20:

If any person, by writing or speaking, shall blaspheme or curse God, or shall write or utter any profane words of and concerning our Saviour Jesus Christ, or of and concerning the Trinity, or any of the persons thereof, he shall on conviction be fined not more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned as aforesaid, at the discretion of the court.


As late as 1939, this still seems to be the law of Maryland--although there are notes that suggest that the courts had made some ruling about this section in State v. Popp, 45 Md. 438. This note, however, suggests that State v. Popp might be more related to Sunday alcohol sales.

I suspect that someone that lives in Maryland, and needs an unusual topic for a research paper or a law review article might find an examination of the decline of blasphemy laws interesting.
5.8.2006 12:12pm
Tocqueville:
The most absurd claim in The Da Vinci Code is that the Church “elected” Jesus God:

"My dear," Teabing declared, "until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet... a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal."
"Not the Son of God?"
"Right," Teabing said. "Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea."
"Hold on. You're saying Jesus' divinity was the result of a vote?"
"A relatively close vote at that," Teabing added.


I wonder who was running against Jesus? Oprah? Al Gore?
5.8.2006 12:17pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Tocqueville:

John Adams thought that the Virgin Mary was running against Jesus (well, he was actually making a joke, I think).

Though Adams and others may have been wrong, the Gnostics and some other dissidents have long held that early Christians didn't believe Jesus was God and that the Church "voted" him in as such.

From my post entitled John Adams Would Have Loved the Davinci Code. John Adams wrote:


"The Trinity was carried in a general council by one vote against a quaternity; the Virgin Mary lost an equality with the Father, Son, and Spirit only by a single suffrage."


John Adams to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812.

The problem with the Davinci Code is not, it seems to me, it's anti-Trinitarianism or criticism of Church dogma; those have a long rich history and believe it or not, most of our key Whig Framers believed the same thing about Christianity and its core doctrines (that they had been corrupted by both the Catholic Church and Calvinistic Christianity, that Jesus was not God, etc.). Rather, it's making up some modern conspiracy theory involving Albino monks and Opus Dei, such and confusing some people into thinking it's fact. Now, I really don't have a problem at all with the book because I think most people understand that the book is fiction. But if there are any grounds to critcize the movie as being unfair and immoral, it's on those grounds.

One can criticize the theology of the DaVinci Code as being erroneous, but there is certainly nothing that is out of bounds of decency or civility in positing a religious view of the Christian faith which challenges traditional dogmas and doctrines. To do so is as American as Apple Pie.
5.8.2006 12:32pm
Tom McKenna (mail) (www):
Unfortunately, we are seeing the fruits of libertarianism at play. Although we used to have no problem censoring slanderous screeds that attacked the Christian faith, First Amendment absolutism, as preached by the clergy of the High Church of Libertarianism, requires that no expression, however repugnant, be curtailed. Oh yes, for the moment child porn is apparently off limits... but not if the depiction is a virtual as opposed to live image. But under libertarian principles, there is no particular reason why even child porn should not be allowed.

Once we claim to be unable to suppress harmful speech no matter how false and malicious it is, the floodgates are open for any and all sewage, and society will quickly descend to the lowest depths of the gutter, all in the name of the First Amendment. This is a result which would no doubt have horrified our Founders, amongst whom even the Deists would have had no problem censoring most of the filth now protected by the Courts.

Of course, they rightly pointed out that our form of government was only suited for a virtuous people. Since we no longer fit that description, one has to wonder how much longer our form of government will endure. It's a shame, because when true tyrrany arrives (wielding a scimitar?) and we have no freedom at all, I suspect we will look back and wish for the good old days when common sense told us that responsible freedom allows for banning pornography and blasphemy and really would not have meant an end to the Republic. Clayton's posting above shows some examples of this, and yet our nation somehow survived this dark night of theocracy.
5.8.2006 12:39pm
Hoosier:
Yeah, one sees this from time-to-time, always from those who don't know the first thing about Chruch history. And I don't mean those with the "wrong" interpretations. I mean people who don't even know the empirical data.

The argument always goes like Brown's: "X wasn't a belief of the Church until Nicea." But the bishops at Nicea actually came up with a statement about what Christians *already believed,* and had beleived since Apostolic times. Or is one to believe that they got together, chose a guy to be son of God, and then went on to proclaim him: "Eternally begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God; Begotten not made; One in being with the Father"? I mean, if they elected him, did they have to go so far overboard?

How does Brown explain the pre-Nicean Gospel of John? ("In the beginning wa the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . Nothing that was made was made except thorugh Him." etc.) And why was this included in canonical scripture if the Church didn't agree on it?

Stoopid.
5.8.2006 12:40pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Hoosier:

As I said, there is a long rich tradition of theological Unitarianism in Western Civilization, and though you may disagree with its theology, they have made arguments which answer your assertion about the Gospel of John.

Jefferson and Adams, for instance, thought that the Word was "Reason" and that the notion that the Word referred to Jesus was mindnumbingly stupid.

Again, from my above post entitled John Adams Would Have Loved the DaVinci Code:


"An incarnate God!!! An eternal, self-existent, omnipresent omniscient Author of this stupendous Universe, suffering on a Cross!!! My Soul starts with horror, at the Idea, and it has stupified the Christian World. It has been the Source of almost all of the Corruptions of Christianity."


John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816:
5.8.2006 12:48pm
Jeek:
I gather that the Church does not take a position on Holy Blood, Holy Grail (or any of the other works that pursue the Priory of Sion thesis / plot device), and they're only after Dan Brown. Apparently, only super-popular best-selling Bad Ideas must be struck down, not obscure and poorly-selling Bad Ideas.
5.8.2006 12:50pm
Houston Lawyer:
And 500 years after the Reformation, the Catholic Church is still issuing indulgences. Translating the Bible into the vernacular was a death penalty offense during the Middle Ages until the protestants took over. If it were up to the Catholic Church alone, we still wouldn't have the Bible in English.

Now don't get me wrong, I like the Catholic Church. It does much right and is run by men of strong faith. However, its tendency to elevate tradition over scripture and attempt to logically cannonize every scriptural issue is a major problem.
5.8.2006 12:54pm
Tocqueville:
For some reason, "John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816" just doesn't seem to be striking fear in my heart (or persuading me of theological error). Am I missing something? In other words, so what?
5.8.2006 1:01pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Apparently, only super-popular best-selling Bad Ideas must be struck down, not obscure and poorly-selling Bad Ideas.
Probably because the obscure ones don't lead the masses to do stupid things. The left doesn't seem to much care about the anti-Semitic rantings of neo-Nazis--until those rantings become wildly popular, such as The Turner Diaries--which has sold well at least partly for the same reason as The Da Vinci Code--it's well written and entertaining, and just about as accurate.

Read Jack London's The Iron Heel, and you can see the inspiration for the The Turner Diaries--but capitalists are replaced with Jews as the source of all evil, and at least the protagonist of The Turner Diaries isn't given the absurd name of "Ernest Everhard."
5.8.2006 1:03pm
Public_Defender (mail):

What on Earth does "democracy" have to do with this controversy? The hyperbole around here is out of control.


Part of democracy is accepting that other people are allowed to legally speak ideas you disagree with. Here, the Nigerian Cardinal appears to be asking for state action against the film. That's not something you do if you have any respect for democracy.

If the cardinal was merely calling for a boycott, then what he said is fine. But calling for state action is a call to use the violence of the State to shut down ideas the cardinal doesn't want others to hear. That's a little better than what some Muslims did with the cartoons, but not a lot.

The cardinal appears to have been intentionally vague. That's cowardly and intellectually dishonest. Perhaps the way out of the embarrassment he has caused himself and the Catholic Church is for him to say, "Of course, no government should censor anything just because it insults a religion. I meant only that Catholics should exercise their right to boycott the film."

As to the book and movie themselves, they sound silly to me. I don't plan to read or see either.
5.8.2006 1:05pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Joe7 exhibits what Stendhal's Abbe Pirard called "that fatal tendency towards Protestantism ... a thorough, too-thorough knowledge of the Holy Scriptures."
5.8.2006 1:09pm
Hoosier:
Jon Rowe--

I have to run, but I'll post a response later, if you are interested. You raise a significant point, but one for which there is, alas, an answer.

Houston Lawyer--You are factually wrong about translations in the Middle Ages. I've read some of the German ones, in part. (Not that there was a single German language in the 1300s. But that's the point, again, of the Vulgate.)
5.8.2006 1:12pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I liked the book. And, not being RC, it didn't question my faith at all (I am sure it didn't most RC either). It did what a good quasi-historical novel does, which is filling in blanks to make a plot. Of course, there is a lot in the book that turns out to be verifiably historically inaccurate also - I am distinguishing here between places where it goes counter to established faith, and places where faith doesn't play a part. For example, apparently the geneology of the French kings, etc., utilized by the book is somewhat off.

Because there are things that we accept on faith pretty much alone. For example, I dated a Jewish woman a number of years ago, and she made a persuasive argument that at that time in Jewish history, it was highly likely that Jesus would have been married to a woman at some point, most likely in an arranged marriage. He was the oldest son (legally) of Joseph and Mary, and she claimed that a refusal by him to marry would have affected his younger siblings, etc.

But this never really affected my faith. If he was married at some point, then fine. Most likely, if he had been, he wasn't by the time of the last years of his life when he started to preach. There is a big hole there in his life, and marriage and working as a carpenter is as good a solution to that hole than as others I have heard. Maybe it was widowhood that gave him the freedom to do what he had to ultimately do. For me, it just doesn't affect his message whatsoever.

Getting back to the book. I liked it because the author was able to take a bunch of historical facts, etc., and weave a story around it, that countradicted much of what we accept as the truth. The RC Church was the villian just because it was convenient. He might have been able to make a story along somewhat similar lines with the Eastern Church, but this works better, esp. given the setting in France, that traditionally had a strong relationship with the RC Church.

But we have 24 and any number of books with corruption at the highest levels of our government. Sure, some paranoids take this sort of thing seriously, but the vast majority of us don't believe that the President or the VP could have sold out. It just makes a good plot device. Some of the books or movies that come immediately to mind here are Clancy's "Clear and Present Danger" and the "Pelican Brief". Indeed, in Clancy's books, Jack Ryan only gets to the White House through a lot of corruption throughout the government, running up to its highest levels. Most of us don't take him seriously, but still love his books.

So, why should the RC Church be immune from this, any more than our own government is?
5.8.2006 1:30pm
MDJD2B (mail):
Mel Gibson is very coy about his own views on certain historical facts like the Holocaust and his father is a flat out holocaust denier.

And what exactly does Mel Gibson's father (a member of a splinter group that left the Catholic Church) have to do with either Mel's views or with those of the Church?
5.8.2006 2:49pm
Hoosier:
It shouldn't be, and you make the point very convincingly. I suppose, however, that most people are more senstive about their religion than about their political affiliation. (I'm the other way around, but perhaps that's force of circumstance: As a Catholic, I know the Church's history and teachings, and am comfortable that it's the only option that makes sense for a Christian in the West. But I'm also a Republican. So I have reason these days to wonder if I'm an idiot.) So it is to be expected that people will repsond to a work like Brown's with anger. I'm dismissive. There certainly ARE books that have shaken my faith to the core. But those are books like Shusako Endo's "Silence," not this James-Mitchner-on-Crack stuff that Brown puts out.

Re: The word "Word": Again, the Deist argument seems to follow reason by using "Reason." But it also reflects a lack of knowledge of Church history. Which neither Jefferson or Adams ever claimed to have. One can translate "logos" as Reason. But one can translate it as "sweat-beetle-dickweed" if it supports one's beliefs. The opening of the Gospel of St. John borrows from a Hellenistic Christian prayer, and is about Jesus. This is where "John"--as he's come down to us--got the wording. So the Word is Jesus, and in this particular Gospel, that's what it always has meant.

In addition, the Gospel goes on to speak of the word becoming flesh and living among us, and about St. John the Baptist preparing the way for the Word, prophesying His coming. To continue reading on is to know whom J the B was waiting for.

Jefferson had no problem removing all of the "metaphysical stuff" from scripture. That's fine for Unitarians. Again, you can do what you want with scripture. But one cannot claim that the texts themselves are unclear on the divinity of Jesus. That bit in John's Gospel with Lazarus didn't happen because Jesus was so darned *rational*.

Otherwise, Danton and St. Juste would have been resurrecting dead Frenchmen so quickly that Burke would have had to print a retraction and apology. "No Terror here! Oops!"
5.8.2006 2:53pm
Hoosier:
MDJD2B is both over educated--at least on the way--and right. His Gibson's dad is a schismatic, and Gibson has been known to frequent a schismatic church.

I wouldn't want to judge Zionism by what Noam Chomsky says. Nor the Church by those who apostatize.

For most people out there, the messages of "The Passion" are the most significant issue. But for us within the Church, ultramontanists like Gibson, Opus Dei, the Legionaries, LeFebverists, et al., are disturbing because they seek to carve out a church-within-a-church. There is no group withing the Church that is *the* elect, destined for salvation. We are *all* Catholic Christians. We are all made in His image, and yet flawed. We are, in other words, "in communion."

If Mel thinks he's more Catholic than the Pope, I invite him to start his own church.

(All of Hoosier's posts bear the Imprimatur of his local ordinary)

+ Bishop John D'Arcy

Nihil Obstat, Censor Librorum, The Vatican
5.8.2006 3:01pm
ray_g:
Tom McKenna:

Speaking of screeds - first, this has nothing to do with libertarianism, as many political positions favor fairly absolute free speech, and your reference to child porn is a complete non-sequitur, less than even a straw man.

"Once we claim to be unable to suppress harmful speech no matter how false and malicious it is.."

OK, now you have to define harmful, false, and malicious in a way everyone will agree upon. For instance, as an atheist, I believe that all religious speech is harmful, in that it spread ideas that are false (e.g. the existence of a deity, or the claimed authority of some person in Rome or Salt Lake City), and is malicious, as it's purpose is to deceive and control people, or at best con them out of their money. I doubt you would agree with any of that. But I really do believe that. Also, I could easily consider some religious people's claims that since I am an atheist I am by definition, immoral, unfit for office, etc. slander and I should be able to sue them for that. You would (rightly) consider that an absurd idea. But this is just as valid a position as wanting to suppress criticism of religion because you believe it to be harmful, false or malicious. However, as a tolerant person, I will not use force or the threat of force via laws or lawsuits, I will use the marketplace of ideas to oppose religion.

To paraphrase a somewhat well known book, "Regulate (or litigate) not, lest ye be regulated."
5.8.2006 3:31pm
cathyf:
My main concern about the book (which I've read) is that it's logically just silly -- "not even wrong" as the saying goes. It posits a secret society which exists to preserve the proof that Jesus was married and had children. Think about this for a moment -- what could possibly exist that could serve as proof of such a thing? Jesus's genetic sequence? How would we know it was Jesus's sequence and not someone else's or just something random made up? The doubts that Jesus existed at all are not insignificant; if it's possible that Jesus was wholly or substantially invented by the apostles, why would it be impossible to partially invent such things as a wife and children?

What's scary is that so many people can't see the self-evident silliness at the center of the book. Certainly there can be conspiracies to hide things, and homicidal plots, and Dan Brown skates close to slander with his cuteness about what is fact and fiction. But ultimately, the thing which he claims the conspiracy hides, and the homicidal plot is trying to destroy, cannot exist.

I suspect that if I had ever been able to care about anything in a Michener book enough to read more than 20 pages, I would really appreciate the "Michener on crack" comment that somebody else brought up. Dave Barry has brilliantly made fun of the frenetic timing and woodeness of the characters in the book.
5.8.2006 4:06pm
Matt Barr (mail) (www):
The cardinals are arguing that, if Muslims have the right to ban speech offensive to them, so too should Christians.


I'm pretty sure this is a misreading of His Excellency's point. Muslims don't have "the right" to ban offensive speech. They (specifically, those who incited against the Danish cartoons, not generally) suppress offensive speech by force or the threat of force. A murderer is not exercising his "right" to kill somebody.

Beyond an exhortation to "get tough," I don't see anything suggesting Catholics should emulate forcible censors of the Danish cartoons. But again, if he were suggesting Catholics do so, he wouldn't be arguing for "the right to ban" anything. And I don't think this is unimportant semantics. "Legal means" means something, which is not beheading people and burning down buildings.

I read the book a very long time ago but I do remember its preface saying, essentially, "I am not making this up." One "legal means" to stand up for a perceived offense against Catholicism would be to sue to force a disclaimer: "Ok, some parts I am." It's unfortunate that people assume he must mean the film should be killed and the book burned.

As a commenter said above, I don't believe anyone is calling for banning Holy Blood, Holy Grail or other such publications. The commenter sees this as evidence of opportunism, when I think it's more obviously evidence of tolerance. Would the people who demanded the Danish cartoons not be published have let obscurity get in the way? They didn't — the cartoons were Danish, for crying out loud.
5.8.2006 4:10pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I was slightly irritated and highly amused that AP stories about the trial referred to Brown's book as a novel in contrast to 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail,' which was described as 'a non-fiction book.'

I haven't read 'Da Vinci' but I did read 'HBHG,' and it's fiction, too.
5.8.2006 4:18pm
Christopher Cooke:
I read Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons and was raised a Roman Catholic, though no longer "practice" as one.

The preface to the Da Vinci Code contains a one page or so section that begins something like "The Prior of Sion is real. Opus Dei is real." Beyond that, Brown doesn't state in his preface that he really believes that albino Opus Dei monks are trying to cover up perfidy by the Church, nor does Brown say in the preface that main thesis of the novel (re Jesus marrying and having kids) is true. As an attorney, I hardly think Brown could be sued for libeling Opus Dei or any of its members merely for saying it is a real organization and very influential.

I think the larger point raised by Professor Somin's post is valid: The Cardinal is calling for censorship of speech with which he disagrees, by arguing essentially if the Muslims can censor speech, why can't Catholics?

No one who has followed the history of the Roman Catholic church should be too surprised that the church sometimes strays towards authoritarianism, and away from democratic principles of free speech. That a Cardinal from Nigeria---not exactly a bastion of democratic values--- should not be a stalwart defender of free speech is sad, but not too surprising.

More recent examples of the Catholic Church's outrage over movies are its reaction to the Last Temptation of Christ, and before that, to Monty Python's Life of Brian. My recollection is, that by denouncing movies they never saw, the Church elders ensured box office success for both movies.

I am sure that the recent efforts to denounce The Da Vinci Code movie will backfire on the Church. The book, for example, is extremely popular in Italy, after the Church denounced it. Perhaps this controversy is all dreamed up by Brown's and Tom Hanks' publicists? Could His Excellency own shares in the movie production company?
5.8.2006 5:11pm
Public_Defender (mail):

. . . "Legal means" means something, which is not beheading people and burning down buildings.

. . . One "legal means" to stand up for a perceived offense against Catholicism would be to sue to force a disclaimer: "Ok, some parts I am." . . .


You are calling to use the coercive power of the State to force your will on this speaker. The way injunctions work is that the government says "shut up or else."

That "or else" is a threat of government violence. If the speaker refuses to to submit to the court's censorship, the State's ultimate power is violence, i.e. putting the speaker in jail for contempt for playing the movie without the disclaimer or for refusing to pay a fine. And what if the speaker resists the State's attempt to jail him for contempt? How much State violence are your prepared to use?

So you are still calling for the use of violence to quell speech. It may be government violence, but it's violence nonetheless. And the government is inflicting the violence only because the speaker spoke words that offended someone but hurt no one.
5.8.2006 5:16pm
ray_g:
"What's scary is that so many people can't see the self-evident silliness at the center of the book."

Scary, perhaps, suprising, no. Anyone remember "Chariots of the Gods"? How many people think the "X-Files" is real? Then there is Nostradamus, the Bible Code (not to be confused with the Da Vinci Code), the warehouse in Yakima, WA where all the missing socks are stored ... on and on and on.
5.8.2006 5:47pm
Hoosier:
You had me until the missing sock warehouse. WTF, mate?
5.8.2006 5:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

"What's scary is that so many people can't see the self-evident silliness at the center of the book."

Scary, perhaps, suprising, no. Anyone remember "Chariots of the Gods"? How many people think the "X-Files" is real?
Is that why Agent Scully isn't answering my letters?

And yes, I had friends who were absolutely convinced that Chariots of the Gods was all true!

One of my son's friends is convinced that the Moon landings were faked. It is the ultimate chance to show that he's so much smarter than his parents, and 95% of the rest of the population, who were fooled!

The fact is that there are lots of people who really get off on being possessors of "secret knowledge"--even if they got it from a mass market paperback--because (in this case), it lets them feels superior to the ignorant benighted sorts who go to church. (There isn't really much difference, as near as I can tell, between these two groups when it comes to ignorance and benightedness--one of them is just arrogant about their special knowledge.)
5.8.2006 5:59pm
ray_g:
The sock warehouse is something I heard on a radio show many, many years ago and thought was funny. It was an answer to one of the great mysteries of life - many of us often lose one of a pair of socks in the laundry, where do they all go?
5.8.2006 6:03pm
Matt Barr (mail) (www):
So you are still calling for the use of violence to quell speech. It may be government violence, but it's violence nonetheless.


I'll assume by "you" you don't actually mean "you."

The coercive power of the state supresses speech when a copyright or trademark is enforced, when it punishes violence incitement or threats against the President, when a company is prohibited from advertising in certain media, when a company is punished for falsely advertising its product, and when laws against libel and slander are enforced. I take "legal means" to mean means that are legal, not attempts to make up and enforce some new law against Dan Brown books.

If, in my example, the court (since there's suing going on) found that Brown had misleadingly represented his work as fact and made him say it wasn't, it would fail to be a milestone in free speech jurisprudence.
5.8.2006 6:10pm
jpaulg (mail):

"What's scary is that so many people can't see the self-evident silliness at the center of the book."


For me the biggest silliness is that the Roman Catholic Church would be bothered by proof that Jesus was married and had kids. About the only thing it changes for Catholic doctrine would be the issue of celibacy for people taking holy orders.

Jesus was divine. Mary is merely holy. Any of Jesus' children would simply be children and their saintliness or holiness would be dependent on their own actions.
5.8.2006 11:45pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I guess it's progress that the church is thinking about how to suppress a movie because of its doctrinal content. When I was a Catholic (a long time ago now), the mothers from my parish were picketing 'Baby Doll' because the actress wore a short costume.

Shoot, in another 2,000 years, maybe the church will have elected a grown-up as cardindal.
5.9.2006 1:11am
BobN (mail):
Arinze complaining about slander. Ah, the irony.
5.9.2006 4:34am
Public_Defender (mail):

If, in my example, the court (since there's suing going on) found that Brown had misleadingly represented his work as fact and made him say it wasn't, it would fail to be a milestone in free speech jurisprudence.


What if Brown refused to comply with the government order to label his speech as "fiction"? He would face contempt charges. If he refused to pay a fine or otherwise comply, he would face jail. If he resisted the attempt of law enforcement to jail him, he would face police violence and possibly even death, depending on how he resisted. All because he refuses to follow the government order to label his work as "fiction."

Consider what would have happened if, say, an Iranian author had written something about Muhammed that differed from what was in the Koran. Then, an Iranian cleric called for "legal action" against the author. Following your example, an Iranian court would then order him to "confess" that his work was fiction under pain of contempt and arrest. Would you consider that to be a violence-free process? That's the same thing that the cardinal was advocating.

When it comes to matters of religion, it's undemocratic for the government to sort out fact from fiction. The cardinal was spitting on democracy when he called for government censorship of a film just because, in his view, the film conflated fact and fiction.

That said, the trial you suggest would be interesting. "Your honor, members of the jury, the evidence will show that Mary was indeed a virgin. . . ." I wonder how the plaintiffs would get around the hearsay rule.
5.9.2006 9:27am
PeterH:

For me the biggest silliness is that the Roman Catholic Church would be bothered by proof that Jesus was married and had kids. About the only thing it changes for Catholic doctrine would be the issue of celibacy for people taking holy orders.

Jesus was divine. Mary is merely holy. Any of Jesus' children would simply be children and their saintliness or holiness would be dependent on their own actions.


Thank you! And since the church allowed married priests until somewhere around the first millenium, or half its existence, even that wouldn't be affected. Whether or not Jesus was married, Saint Peter most certainly was, as were most of the first priests and popes.

In fact, since the Church places marriage and family (and sex for procreation only, and only within marriage) as the center of appropriate behavior for lay people, incontrovertible proof that Jesus did all that really ought to serve as a positive. Surely nobody is afraid the heirs are going to pop up and demand all the property and split it up like the Hiltons? And Jesus was famous for not owning anything at all, so his heirs couldn't claim much of anything anyway (franchise licensing rights, maybe?)

I enjoyed the book. The only shocking thing for me resulted in my looking at The Last Supper and saying to myself, "Damn, he's right! How did I miss THAT all this time?" Hardly a spiritual crisis.

As far as I know, there is no Roman Catholic or Christian doctrine that would support the idea that divinity is passed on genetically.

And, for God's sake, the "scandal" and the "blasphemy" is that Jesus got married and had non-contraceptive sex with his legal wife. Now, that IS shocking! It is a huge yawner either way, unless of course, the idea of Jesus being both physically capable and actually interested in having sex (within marriage) is somehow the problem -- but then, what does THAT say about your opinion of lay people?
5.9.2006 10:45am
PeterH:

What if Brown refused to comply with the government order to label his speech as "fiction"?


He's calling it fiction now!
5.9.2006 10:46am
Public_Defender (mail):

He's calling it fiction now!


Good for him. And it didn't take government coercion.
5.9.2006 11:31am
Matt Barr (mail) (www):
I really did understand your point the first time; there was no need to restate it. Compulsion by the government is at its root violence. Speakers, writers and publishers are subject to government compulsion all the time, to restate mine, and, to re-emphasize what I mistakenly took as settled, there is a vast difference between that and the violence that ensued over the Danish Mohammad cartoons. I remain unpersuaded by your argument that there is none.
5.10.2006 3:54pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Speakers, writers and publishers are subject to government compulsion all the time,


When have they been subject to government coercion over the question of whether their religious claims are fact or fiction?

And I did not say that calling for government violence was the same as mob violence. The analogy to the Vatican's position would if the Iranian government demanded that a film maker label his movie about Muhammed "fiction" because the movie contradicted the Iranian government's interpretation of the Quran.

And you haven't addressed how such a case would be litigated. What proof would you introduce to demonstrate to a jury that Mary was indeed a virgin? The voir dire could produce some awkward moments: "Juror Number 37, could you set aside your belief in the virgin birth and be open to evidence that Mary had sexual relations with her husband?"

Courts in democratic countries work hard to avoid deciding who's right in a theological dispute.

I've read that some American Bishops (and other religious leaders) are using the movie as a teaching moment. The "fact" that the movie gets so many things "wrong" gives these thoughtful leaders the opening to teach what's "right." Sometimes, the Vatican just doesn't get this whole democracy thing. Fortunately, many American priests and bishops know when to politely ignore their "superiors" in Rome.
5.11.2006 12:09pm
Matt Barr (mail) (www):
When have they been subject to government coercion over the question of whether their religious claims are fact or fiction?


Give me a bit, I'll think of something.

Since we're agreed on the difference between the most visible response to the Danish cartoons and Cardinal Arinze's remarks, I'll press my original point: Calling for a defense of rights by legal means does not automatically (or even logically) equal calling for a book or film to be banned, as Prof. Somin claimed. Saying it does -- and arguing that whatever Arinze is calling for amounts to pernicious violence in the end -- understates the gravity of the reaction to the Danish cartoons and unjustly smears an institution that, for reasons I'm sure you'll figure out if you think about it, indeed doesn't champion democracy as zealously as Volokh commenters like you and I do.

Not to indulge what seems to be a vaguely disturbing preoccupation with Mary, but the one who thinks the Vatican's course would be to prove articles of Christian faith are true isn't me, it's you. The book hasn't got very kind things to say about its earthbound adherents, for instance the members of Opus Dei, and if these things were false, a court might find a disclaimer or retraction appropriate.
5.11.2006 1:41pm
unionsbuerger (mail) (www):
Dieser Film hat die Kirche Saint Sulpice in Paris gefüllt. Eine gute Nachricht für unseren Papst.
5.12.2006 6:11am
Emmanuel (mail):
The book is fiction and was built on an old tale that has been proven to be false.

The it was described on its cover as a fiction. What is important is that the author, Mr. Brown, in several interviews has stated that though the work is a fiction, that the facts are true. This is as oxymoronic as it is deceptive.

One thing is certain. A lot of christians will lose their faith after seeing the movie an faith is such and easy thing to lose where there is doubt. Is it worth it that the less informed should be deceived by commercial historians? In a matter of faith?

The leadership of the church, not only the catholic church, but the entire church of God has failed their subjects. They all want to be politically correct and that is unfortunate.

There is still time to stop this movie legally and if the courts do not see reason, then we can go it the way of the world. Or we are all fools and cowards claiming followership of Christ.

Cardinal Arinze is right and has my support any day!!!!!!!!!!
5.12.2006 7:02pm