A group of British Catholics including a Benedictine abbot and two priests have launched a pre-emptive attack on the “damaging and grotesque” account of their faith given in the book.
The novel by American author Dan Brown has sold over 40 million copies worldwide and the film, starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellan, is predicted to be one of this summer’s biggest box office hits.
But The Da Vinci Code was attacked for portraying the Catholic Church as a shadowy organisation that has spent 2,000 years covering up Jesus’s marriage to Mary Magdalene.
Members of Opus Dei, a conservative Catholic group with 86,000 members worldwide, were particularly angry about their order being depicted as a murderous, power-hungry sect.
Source: Dismantling The Da Vinci Code By Sandra Miesel, Crisis, Sep. 1, 2003
Conscious that the release of the film on May 19 will bring these allegations to a wider audience, Opus Dei has arranged special information evenings in London.
Senior British Catholics have formed the Da Vinci Code Response Group to provide spokesmen to counter the film’s negative impact. The group is co-ordinated by Austen Ivereigh, the director for public affairs of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
In a statement the group said: “The group has been formed because the Da Vinci Code is fiction trading as fact. We believe the Da Vinci Code is fun and harmless in so far as it is treated as fiction. We do not believe in condemnations, boycotts or protests.
“But we are also exasperated that many people have been understandably deceived by Dan Brown’s claim that the Da Vinci Code is based on facts and respectable theories. That deception is likely to be reinforced by the film because images are much more powerful than words.”
Opus Dei has asked Sony Pictures, which produced the new film, to include a caption making clear the movie is fiction. The film will have its premiere on May 17 at the Cannes Film Festival before going on general release worldwide on May 19.