Is it ‘It is as it was’?
No … not the latest Bill Clinton rumination on sex and the English language, but a dispute between Mel Gibson’s producers and the Vatican on whether Pope John Paul II gave an endorsement to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (“It is as it was”), as reported by Peggy Noonan last month in the Wall Street Journal. Now the Vatican is denying it, including the Monsignor and friend of John Paul who was the original source of the quote. Mel’s company is standing by its claim.
But both Noonan and my friend Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News say they got the e-mails from the Vatican’s chief spokesman to prove that he did tell Gibson’s team that the quote was accurate and encouraged them to use it.
Rod’s column simply says he believes John Paul did say it but Vatican officials are trying to deny it, though his piece gives no motive. But Amy Welborn speculated (and I’m inclined to believe her) that because of Gibson’s reported involvement in some Ultra sects that are in dubious communion with the Church and/or believe the papacy is vacant, officials at the Vatican don’t want John Paul seen endorsing the film. So they’re lying and hanging Gibson, his distributors and some important Catholic journalists (Noonan, John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter) out to dry. That is totally unbelievable in my opinion. There is absolutely zero chance that Church bureaucrats would ever lie or smear a Catholic layman in service of preserving an institutional image of the Church. Only a wacked-out conspiracy nut would believe that.
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