May 25-31, 2006
Da Vinci Code decriers
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Several Syracuse Diocese Catholics protest The Da Vinci Code
Ten people gathered at the south entrance to Carousel Mall in Syracuse Friday to demonstrate against the opening of the Ron Howard film The Da Vinci Code.
The handful of people was part of a scattering of protests internationally and throughout the U.S. aimed at challenging the film. The Da Vinci Code was banned in the Phillipine capital of Manila and, in some countries; Muslims also protested its release.
The Da Vinci Code exceeded early expectations, earning $29 million on opening day. The film re-ignited the ire of many Catholics who were already incensed with the best-selling novel by Dan Brown. The Catholic News Service reported that three Vatican cardinals and several officials have voiced serious concerns about the film. Archbishop Angelo Amato, the secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, harshly criticized the film but declined to call for an outright boycott while addressing a Catholic conference in Rome. He did express hope that those in the audience would boycott the film. Archbishop Amato also noted that if the material in the film were from either the Quran or the Holocaust, it “rightly would have provoked a worldwide uprising.”
The novel is a mystery thriller in which the protagonists uncover a conspiracy within the church to hide certain pseudo-historical events including Jesus Christ’s marriage to Mary Magdalene and denial of His divinity. Moreover, the Catholic organization Opus Dei is the primary agent in hiding the “real story” and, in the novel, they are willing to keep it hidden by any means necessary including murder.
While the film’s director, Ron Howard, along with lead actor Tom Hanks and producer Brian Grazer have consistently defended The Da Vinci Code as mere fiction, the first page of the book asserts that all of the following elements of it are fact.
Protest organizer Diane Soccacci, a parishioner at Our Lady of Pompei Church in Syracuse, said that even if the movie is presented as fiction, it remains blasphemous. Linda Vishnesky of Onondaga Hill, who attends Holy Family Church, read the book but was so scandalized by its contents that she returned it to the bookstore and demanded a refund. “I was just so appalled that I took the book back to the store,” she said. “This book is blasphemy and lies. It was just so appalling.”
Vishnesky said that she would consider the demonstration a success if her signs made one person reconsider watching The Da Vinci Code.
“I don’t worry about me,” she said. “But I worry about the innocents who wander in here.”
Several passing motorists honked their horns or offered similar encouragement, while others cast derogatory comments toward the demonstrators.
St. Patrick’s parishioner Gerry Barrett read just enough of The Da Vinci Code to gather that is was indeed blasphemous. She read the novel in order to help her grandchildren understand it. Upon reading it, however, she told her daughter not to allow the children, who attend Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School, to read it.
“It’s hurtful to our Lord and to His Mother,” Barrett said. “They hurt and we hurt for them.” Barrett believes that Christian beliefs are more susceptible to attack than those of some other faiths. “Christians are vulnerable. We’re under attack,” she said. “They attack us because we turn the other cheek. We’ve been turning the other cheek and now it’s time to fight back.”