The reviews have been critical, even sometimes
tinged with derision. The much-awaited but controversial Da Vinci
Code movie is now running in cinemas across the world.
In Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa last
week directed that the blockbuster Sony-Columbia Pictures movie
that premiered in Cannes, France on May 18 based on the best-selling
novel of Dan Brown of the same name, be banned.
“We intimated to President Rajapaksa our
concerns about screening the movie in Sri Lanka,” said a spokesperson
for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference comprising the 12 Bishops
in the country, explaining that young Catholics whose faith was
not deep enough, who may not be able to distinguish between fact
and fiction could be affected adversely by the movie.
The President has ordered the ban, confirmed the Director of Government
Information, Anusha Palpita.
|An Italian protestor sets fire to the controversial book as
the film hit cinemas in Rome. AP
Stressing that the Catholic Church has always upheld
freedom of expression and thinking, the Bishop underlined the fact
that freedom should always go hand in hand with responsibility.
“The movie vilifies God and attacks the very
roots of Christian faith,” he said. “If it is historical,
it would be alright. But it is not based on fact and projecting
Jesus Christ who is revered and also sacred in such a manner could
poison unsuspecting minds. It would not augur well for human dignity.”
The objectionable theme of both the book and the
movie is that Jesusmarried Mary Magdalene and a bloodline coming
down from that union is in existence even today.
Why ban the movie when the book is freely available
in Sri Lanka?
Movies are a powerful medium and could have lasting impressions,
emphasizes Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando, Director of the World Catholic
Association for Communication.
Adding that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference
issued an advisory mainly to Catholics but even to the public interested
in this subject that the novel as well as the movie is fiction,
he says therefore both of them are blasphemous, distorting the beliefs
of the Catholics not only about Jesus but also about the church.
“There is no historical base. No theological
base for the book or the movie. It is not truth. It is a novel and
not a historical book. The movie is from Hollywood and is a commercial
venture. There is no artistic value in it,” says Fr. Fernando.
Quoting from the Bishops’ Conference statement,
he says: “Today’s super-highways of media technology
are utilized in this manner to propagate falsehoods and distortions
that poison the minds of unsuspecting believers, especially the
On a personal note, Fr. Fernando advises Catholics
who may have doubts to search for the truth in the gospels. “The
most ancient books which tell the story of Jesus are the gospels.
In those we don’t find anything about Christ’s marriage,
though the gospels have not hidden the fact that Peter, the leader
of the church was married.”
Underscoring the fact that the church is for freedom
of expression, Fr. Fernando, however, goes on to explain that The
Da Vinci Code is a public performance that saddens millions of people
who venerate Jesus. “For us Jesus is God and it hurts our
sensitivities. The movie attacks the core of the Christian faith
– the divinity of Christ. He came in human form but He is
God. If we allow this kind of precedent, even other religions such
as Buddhism may face such onslaughts.”