ROME, Italy (AP) — The conservative Roman Catholic group Opus Dei said Tuesday it had no intention of calling for a boycott of the upcoming film “The Da Vinci Code,” but said it hopes the much-awaited film could still be changed so that “there aren’t references that would hurt Catholics.”
In a statement released in Rome, Opus Dei said Sony Pictures still had time to make changes that would be appreciated by Catholics, “particularly in these days in which everyone has noted the painful consequences of intolerance” — an apparent reference to violence in the Muslim world sparked by the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The film, starring Tom Hanks and scheduled for a May 19 release, is based on the best-selling Dan Brown novel, which portrayed Opus Dei as a murderous, power-hungry sect. The novel contends that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendants, and that Opus Dei and the Catholic Church were at the center of covering it up.
The low-profile spiritual group has embarked on something of a public-relations campaign to improve its image before release of the film. It says it isn’t calling for a boycott because it prefers to follow a more “constructive” path.
“‘The Da Vinci Code’ offers a deformed image of the Catholic Church,” Tuesday’s statement said, adding that the statement was issued because the organization had received many questions about the upcoming film.
Sony reiterated its view that “The Da Vinci Code” is a work of fiction.
The work is “not a religious tract, and it is certainly not meant to criticize any group, religious or otherwise,” Jim Kennedy, a spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment, commented via e-mail.