WASHINGTON (June 11, 2003) -— At the request of the Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, the Department for Communications is issuing the following clarifying statement:
It has come to the attention of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that a story, carried by Zenit on Friday, May 30, 2003, identified the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs as responsible for the development of a report by an independent group of scholars critiquing a script of the film, "The Passion," being produced by Icon Productions. Neither the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, nor any other committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, established this group, or authorized, reviewed or approved the report written by its members. The Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs knew only that the scholars' group intended to offer comments for the private consideration of the producers.
Given the importance and the sensitivity of this topic, the Conference notes that the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has prepared a booklet, Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion, reminding Catholics that the correct presentation of the Gospel accounts of the passion and death of Jesus Christ does not support antisemitism. The repudiation of antisemitism is also clear in three other publications prepared by USCCB
Secretariats: Catholic Teaching on the Shoah; Catholics Remember the Holocaust; and God's Mercy Endures Forever: Guidelines on the Presentation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic Preaching.
It is the policy of the Bishops' Conference to critique films only after they have been presented for review. The Conference reserves its right to review and comment on this and all other films.