THE DA VINCI LOAD
By DARREN COYNE
A LOCAL bishop has branded The Da Vinci Code novel "a load of tosh" at a service in Tweed Heads this week.
Bishop of Lismore Geoff Jarrett also told the St Josephs congregation that although the book was "a page-turner" it should be regarded as a piece of fiction.
The Bishop was speaking at the confirmation of 102 children when he offered the review of the novel, which has introduced concepts to a world-wide audience which are at odds with the Catholic faith.
The criticism of the novel comes on the eve of global release of The Da Vinci Code movie, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, and directed by Ron Howard.
The film premiere at the Cannes Film Festival today, and opens in Australian cinemas tomorrow.
The $164 million movie is tipped for instant blockbuster status, with 50 million copies of the book already sold ensuring a ready market.
Among the theories explored by the novel and movie are that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, who had their child and that the bloodline survives to this day.
Bishop Jarrett was unavailable for further comment yesterday on the claims made by author Dan Brown, but Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, yesterday said he believed people should go and see the movie but take it as just a fictional story.
"I think people should go and see the movie, I'm sure that many people have read the novel," he said.
"If they take it at that level, remembering it is a novel, it is a story.
"It's something for us to reflect on and the church has a responsibility to help people to see the truth or not of what's being proposed."
Archbishop Barry Hickey, the chairman of the Bishops Committee for the Media, has also urged Catholics and others to treat the novel, and therefore the movie, as works of fiction.
"Those who have read The Da Vinci Code might have followed some of the controversy it has stoked regarding the true nature of Jesus Christ and the Church that he founded," Bishop Hickey has written.
"In short, the book and the subsequent movie are works of fiction. But the author, Dan Brown has worked his fiction in and around certain historical people and events, making it confusing for many people.
"Much of what it presents as fact is simply untrue. In fact, the central claim of the book is without any historical foundation."
It's understood that the Catholic Church is preparing material about The Da Vinci Code which will be distributed in schools and parishes.