Controversial Catholic organization Opus Dei is understandably a bit touchy about its markedly unflattering depiction in Dan Brown’s mega-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, and in the Ron Howard film version starring Tom Hanks, set for release in May.
The organization — a Roman Catholic prelature founded in 1928 by St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer to “spread the message that work and the circumstances of everyday life are occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society” — wants you to know that, contrary to Brown, it is NOT made up of avaricious, misogynistic, self-flagellating, homicidal maniac cultist monks, thank you very much, and its feelings are rather hurt by such intimations.
In fact, such is the organization’s concern about certain “misconceptions” that late last week the Information Office of Opus Dei in Japan sent an open letter to the shareholders, directors and employees of Sony Corporation, which owns the studio releasing The Da Vinci Code film.
The letter reads in part, “In recent months it is possible that you may have heard about Opus Dei, in the context of the aforementioned film. It is likely that for many this was the first time that you have had occasion to hear the name of this institution of the Church … the essence of its message is that their professional work, whatever it may be, is a way to holiness, or in other words, it is a suitable place to live the Christian faith.”
We are NOT avaricious, misogynistic, self-flagellating, homicidal maniac cultist monks – just an FYI.
“As you already probably know,” it continues, “there are some aspects of The Da Vinci Code novel that distort the figure of Jesus Christ, and which affect the religious beliefs of Christians. Moreover, in the book it is said that the Christian Faith is founded on a lie, and that the Catholic Church has over the centuries employed criminal and violent means to keep people in ignorance.”
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain – he is absolutely NOT a direct descendant of a mortal Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene. Swear.
And finally after much flattery and talk of corporate responsibility, the bottom line: “Some of the media have specifically written that Sony is considering the possibility of including at the start of the film a disclaimer making it clear that this is a work of fiction, and that any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence. An eventual decision of Sony in this direction would be a sign of respect towards the figure of Jesus Christ, the history of the Church, and the religious beliefs of viewers.”
Just in case anyone thinks it’s a documentary.
The PG-13-rated movie will open this year’s Cannes film festival on 17 May, two days before it is released worldwide.