ROME – That is the question vexing many Hollywood film reporters these days: What will the Vatican do now that the prequel to the controversial “The Da Vinci Code” is set to hit theaters next month?
Headlines here and there have been claiming either the Vatican was calling for a worldwide boycott or was cautioning against a boycott over fears it would just boost publicity for the up-coming “Angels and Demons” movie.
But who needs an actual boycott when just speculating whether the Vatican or church officials would call on Catholics to stay away seems to be enough?
The problem with the stories that claim the Vatican is against the film or has disapproved of it is the source they cite is Avvenire. Contrary to some reports, it’s not “the Vatican’s official newspaper,” but is a daily Catholic newspaper sponsored by the Italian bishops’ conference.
But more importantly the March 20 article they claim their headlines were based on doesn’t exist in the archives and an Italian journalist who works at Avvenire said he can’t recall the paper publishing anything either for or against the movie.
Confusion probably sprang from a March 20 article in the Italian daily La Stampa which quoted a theologian who writes for Avvenire. La Stampa said (presumably based on an interview with him) that the Italian theologian invited Catholics to ignore the “Angels and Demons” movie. He said filmmakers were “exploiting the church in order to boost sales at the box office.”
Another Italian, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, told La Stampa that people should be cautious about “the boomerang effect” of calling for a boycott because it could translate into unintended publicity for the movie.
He said the Vatican is not worried about people of faith falling for the book and movie’s anti-Christian inventions. The Vatican “believes Christians are strong — inoculated by centuries of persecution and testimonials of faith,” he said.