Da Vinci Code Film Seeks Church Blessing

Sony Pictures, the studio making the new film version of Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, have sought the Catholic Church’s blessing.

Apparently the move is an attempt by the studio to bridge the gap to the devout audience caused by the great offence many Catholics took to the book’s content.

The novel makes the controversial assertion that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, a former prostitute, to whom he had a child. The Catholic Church has strongly refuted the claims, which also extend to a villainous depiction of Catholic organisation Opus Dei.

The members of Opus Dei are portrayed in the book committing unethical acts for the sake of God, the Church or Opus Dei. The Church, however, defends the organisation as a Catholic institution that adheres to Catholic doctrine and condemns immoral behaviour.

Spokesman Brian Finnerty said the depiction of Opus Dei in the novel was completely inaccurate. “We wrote to the studio, expressing our concern. They sent back a reply that was polite but non-committal, but Opus Dei is completely unlike the portrayal in the novel.”

Sony Pictures are reportedly so concerned about offending devout Catholics that it has sought advice from Catholic and other Christian specialists on how it might alter the plot of the novel in order to make it less offensive.

This effort comes despite Dan Brown insisting that the book is “only a novel and therefore a work of fiction.”

The film officials have been in touch with the Catholic League in particular, who have requested that Ron Howard, the film’s Oscar-winning director, include a disclaimer that acknowledges the film to be a fiction.

Sony Pictures has also been asked to consider removing the name Opus Dei from the film altogether as well as making the central premise – that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene – more ambiguous.

The novel has already caused widespread controversy. In March, the Vatican appointed a cardinal to rebut what it dismissed as lies, distortions and errors.

Last month a Catholic website was also established to dispel the myths of the book and some facts about Mary Magdalene, as well as links to other sites that refute the claims made in the book.

The film version of The Da Vinci Code is currently being filmed and stars Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen. It is based on the novel that has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

The film will be shot on location at Lincoln Cathedral after permission to film at Westminster Abbey, where the novel is set, was refused in a snub to the book’s controversial assertions. The Abbey dismissed the book as “theologically unsound”.