ROME – A Vatican official reportedly called for a boycott of the upcoming "The Da Vinci Code" film Friday, saying it contained "slanderous" offenses against Christianity that would have provoked a worldwide revolt had they been directed against Islam or the Holocaust.
Monsignor Angelo Amato — Pope Benedict XVI's former No. 2 when Benedict was head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith — made the comments in a speech at the Pontifical Holy Cross University, which is run by the conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei, the ANSA news agency reported.
"I hope all of you boycott this film," the Italian agency quoted Amato as saying. He said the film, based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, was full of "offenses, slander, historical and theological errors concerning Jesus, the gospel and the church."
"Slander, offenses and errors that if they were directed toward the Quran or the Shoah would have justifiably provoked a worldwide revolt," he said, referring to Islam's holy book and the Hebrew word for Holocaust.
"Yet because they were directed toward the Catholic Church, they remain 'unpunished,"' he said.
Church officials repeatedly have spoken out against the novel and the upcoming film adaptation, which stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou and is scheduled for release May 19.
"The Da Vinci Code" contends that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendants, and that Opus Dei, which is close to the Vatican, and the Catholic Church were at the center of a cover up.
Last year, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone — Amato's predecessor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — called for a boycott of the book. And earlier this month, the preacher for the papal household, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, denounced theories that make huge profits in denying church teaching about Jesus — an obvious reference to the film.
However, Opus Dei, which is portrayed as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the novel, has specifically refrained from publicly calling for a boycott of the film, aware that bitter criticism of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" helped generate publicity for the movie.
Opus Dei has, however, asked Sony to put a disclaimer on the movie saying it is a work of fantasy. Sony has not responded to that request but has said it views "The Da Vinci Code" as a work of fiction that isn't meant to harm any organization.
Amato's comments were the second this week against the film by church officials in Rome.
Earlier this week, the Interior Ministry took down an enormous ad promoting the film that was plastered on the scaffolding of a Rome church after church officials complained that the film was against Christ and the Catholic Church.