VATICAN CITY – If you're not among the millions who have already read "The Da Vinci Code," an Italian cardinal has a plea for you: Don't read it and don't buy it.
Genoa Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (search), who previously was a high-ranking official of the Vatican's office on doctrinal orthodoxy, told Vatican Radio on Tuesday that the runaway success of the Dan Brown (search) novel is proof of "anti-Catholic" prejudice.
Allegations in the novel that Jesus married Mary Magdalene (search) and has descendants have outraged many Christians and have been dismissed by historians and theologians.
"The distribution strategy has been absolutely exceptional marketing, even at Catholic bookstores — and I've already complained about the Catholic bookshops which, for profit motives, have stacks of this book," the cardinal said.
"And then there's that strategy of persuasion — that one isn't an adult Christian if you don't read this book. Thus my appeal is: Don't read and don't buy" the book.
Asked about commentary that the book's success is "only further proof of the fact that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice," the cardinal exclaimed. "It's the truth."
"There's a great anti-Catholic prejudice," Bertone said. "I ask myself if a similar book was written, full of lies about Buddha, Mohammed, or, even, for example, if a novel came out which manipulated all the history of the Holocaust or of the Shoah, what would have happened?"
"The Da Vinci Code" was published two years ago this month and is available in 44 languages. Booksellers expect the novel to remain a best seller well into this year.