Priests warn about DaVinci Code#8217;s message

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Some local priests hope that the one thing stronger than a worldwide blockbuster novel and film is the faith that it challenges.

The much-anticipated

“The DaVinci Code” debuts in Tri-State theaters today. While many predict the movie to be a huge success around the country because of its controversial message, those from religious sects — particularly Catholics — are warning that the movie should be recognized for what it is: a work of fiction.

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When it was released in 2003, Dan Brown’s book “The DaVinci Code” shocked

both secular and religious audiences. The central theme of the movie is that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had children.

The mystery/detective fiction work also attacks the Catholic Church — more specifically, the small conservative Church-based group the Opus Dei — that Brown claims launched a “smear campaign” against Mary Magdalene to hide the fact that Jesus wanted her to lead the Church when he died. The book’s “code” refers to cryptic messages Brown claims Leonardo Da Vinci incorporated into his famed painting “The Last Supper” to represent the artist’s controversial perspectives on Jesus’ life.

Despite the debate, the book has remained on or near the top of the bestseller list since it was released, selling more than 40 million copies in 33 countries.

Just because “The Da Vinci Code” has been popular thus far, local priests say that doesn’t mean it is Bible-based. In fact, they say it is a lot of bunk with little substance.

Father Charles Moran of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Chesapeake said he read the book and had an interesting reaction: he laughed as he flipped through the pages.

“It’s just sensationalism. That’s what it is,” Moran said. “I’m pretty indifferent about the whole thing (movie).”

Moran said the book, and now the film, are simply ways for the movies studios and everyone involved with them to sell books and bring people in to the theaters — more or less, to make money.

“It is an interesting story, but it’s not true,” said Father Anthony Batt, associate pastor of the Catholic Community of Ironton. “There is a lot of false information. The truth is in the Scripture.”

Last month, Archbishop Angelo Amato, second in command of the Vatican doctrinal office, urged a boycott of “The Da Vinci Code” because he claims it is not true.

But, Moran and Batt say they will not go so far as to tell fellow Catholics to steer clear of the theater. They say true believers will see through the untruths in the movie. In fact, they say it might actually inspire Christians to re-evaluate their relationship with God.

“Hopefully people will see this and they are able to interpret what’s going on,” Moran said.

“It’s really stirred up people’s interest and that’s a good thing,” Batt said. “We should always be searching for the truth and hopefully will inspire more people to question and learn more about the truth.”