03/29/2004, 00.00
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Archbishop Rosales: "Watch 'The Passion!'"

Pastoral message corrects an Antisemitic approach to the film

Manila (AsiaNews) – Mons.Guadencio Rosales, archbishop of Manila, has issued a four-page pastoral message, urging the Christians of his archdiocese to view Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ", calling it a "serious labour of love, painstakingly made, of genuine artistic and religious value." The Archbishop encouraged Christians to see the drama as a way of helping them "to remember and reflect on the Passion of Our Lord" during this Lenten season, so that "penitence and Christian praxis may bear true and deeper fruit in our lives."

 At the same time, Archbishop Rosales gave two cautions concerning the viewing of the film. First, "Children under high-school age should not watch this picture unless their parents are sure they are ready and will accompany them," because of the " very great violence in this depiction of the Christ's death." He added that, for children, these scenes may be " too graphic for them to see, too brutal for their young emotions to take," and that "it could do them harm".

Secondly, he re-stated the Church's position regarding who was responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. "We are not to blame all the Jewish people of Jesus' own time for his death." From the perspective of faith, "all of us took part in the killing of Jesus... It was all of us, throughout the ages, who were responsible for the slaying of Jesus."

Watching the film is an opportunity  for a true "faith experience" and an authentic invitation to "conversion and renewal of heart and life" said the Archbishop. To be best disposed to this, he offered the following: "When you see it, try to see it in a spirit of quiet, prayerful reflection.... Approach it as if you were entering a period of meditation: mind and heard open to what you see and contemplate, setting aside attitudes of "seeking to be merely entertained" or just feeding one's sense with the colourful and powerful scenes unrolling before one's eyes. Try to enter deeply into the last hours of Jesus and let those final hours work their way into your mind and heart."

The film opens in the Philippines March 31st.  (S.E.)

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