Gibsons Denies That 'Passion' Is Anti-Semetic

Mel Gibson has denounced claims that his movie The Passion is anti-sematic. He claims that his movie is "meant to inspire, not offend" which depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ, reports Reuters.

Gibson's comments were contained in a statement announcing that the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to help his production company, Icon, retrieve copies of an early draft of the movie script that Icon says was obtained without permission by a "deep throat" working for an ad-hoc group of Catholic and Jewish scholars.

Jewish leaders have raised concerns that the movie, titled "The Passion," might portray Jews as collectively guilty for Christ's crucifixion. Catholics have expressed worries that Gibson might use the film to challenge church teachings.

Their concerns were sparked by a New York Times Magazine article portraying Gibson as a traditionalist Catholic opposed to reforms of the Vatican II Council of the 1960s, which among other things rejected the belief that Jews were to blame for the death of Jesus.

Gibson previously has said little about his movie, which was shot in Italy and contains dialogue only in Latin and Aramaic with no English subtitles. Gibson directed and co-wrote the film, which does not yet have a distributor.

In his first public comments about the film since the controversy began, Gibson said, "Neither I nor my film are anti-Semitic ... Nor do I hate anybody -- certainly not the Jews. They are my friends and associates ... Anti-Semitism is not only contrary to my personal beliefs, it is also contrary to the core message of my movie."

He added that the film is "meant to inspire, not offend. ... For those concerned about the content of this film, know that it conforms to the narratives of Christ's passion and death found in the four Gospels of the New Testament."

The film's producer, Steve McEveety, said that while critics have a right to their opinion, "no one has a right to publicly critique a film that has not even been completed, let alone base their critique on an outdated version of the script which has been illegally obtained."

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