Opus Dei Asks for 'Da Vinci Code' Disclaimer

The conservative religious group Opus Dei has asked for a disclaimer on the upcoming film based on the best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code."

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Opus Dei, portrayed as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the novel by Dan Brown, wrote in an April 6 letter to Sony Corp. that a disclaimer would show respect to Jesus and to the Catholic Church.

"Any such decision by Sony would be a gesture of respect toward the figure of Jesus, to the history of the Church and to the religious beliefs of viewers," Opus Dei wrote in the letter, which was posted on its Italian Web site.

"The Da Vinci Code" contends that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendants, and that Opus Dei and the Catholic Church were at the center of a cover up.

A spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment declined to say whether the film would bear a disclaimer.

"We have no plans to reveal any details regarding what is or isn't in the film until the release," the spokesman, Jim Kennedy, said in a statement. Kennedy's statement said the film was "a work of fiction, and at its heart, it's a thriller, not a religious tract."

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The film starring Tom Hanks is slated for release next month.

Opus Dei, which has close ties to the Vatican, has described "The Da Vinci Code" as offering a deformed image of the Catholic Church.

On Friday, the priest who preaches before the pope in Advent and Lent denounced what he called works that slander the church for profit.

"Christ is still sold, but not any more for 30 coins," the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa said in his Good Friday homily before Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica, referring to Jesus' betrayal by the Apostle Judas before his crucifixion, "but to publishers and booksellers for billions of coins."