Vatican praise for Mel Gibsons passion
Mel Gibson's controversial religious epic The Passion of Christ has been praised by Vatican officials after a special screening.
They praised its "exquisite artistic and religious sensitivity" and dismissed accusations that it was anti-Semetic as "spurious".
The Channel 4 website says three senior Vatican official bodies were invited to watch the movie last weekend.
They were the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Council of Social Communications and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
And a report by US news source Zenit, which tracks Vatican news, suggested the Catholic audiences showed "unanimous appreciation and approval".
Father Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary of the Doctrinal Congregation, told Zenit: "This is a production of exquisite artistic and religious sensitivity. The film neither exaggerates nor downplays the role of Jewish authorities and legal proceedings in the condemnation of Jesus."
"But precisely because it presents a comprehensive account of what might be called the calculus of blame in the passion and death of Christ, the film would be more likely to quell anti-Semitism in its audiences than to excite it."
And Elizabeth Lev, who teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University's Rome campus, said: "The intensity with which Gibson forces us to think about Christ's passion highlights the power of cinema as an art medium, as well as a tool for evangelisation."