Filming of the prequel to the Da Vinci Code has been banned in two key Rome churches.
Producers of Angels & Demons, once again starring Tom Hanks, have been told by Catholic officials they cannot use the churches of Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria, two architectural jewels in the heart of the city that include paintings by Caravaggio, sculptures by Bernini and a chapel designed by Raphael.
The Da Vinci Code angered many Catholics because its plot included the claim that Jesus fathered a child.
A spokesman for the Roman diocese said the movie “does not conform to our views”.
Permission was denied in 2007, but the ban only became public now that filming is taking place in Rome, said Monsignor Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the diocese.
“It’s a film that treats religious issues in a way that contrasts with common religious sentiment,” he said. “We would be helping them create a work that might well be beautiful, but that does not conform to our views.”
Msgr Fibbi acknowledged that the controversy over Dan Brown’s novel and its blockbuster film version had affected the decision.
The story prompted anger and calls for boycotts by church leaders worldwide with the idea that Jesus married and fathered children and by depicting the conservative Catholic movement, Opus Dei, as a murderous cult.
“This is a prequel to ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and it’s clear that the theme is similar,” Msgr Fibbi said. He added that the ban would not stop the crew from filming the exterior of the churches.
Brown’s “Angels and Demons” is a religious thriller combining an ancient secret brotherhood called the Illuminati, code-cracking, a papal conclave and a high-tech weapon threatening to destroy the Vatican.