-- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club
, February 23, 2004
"The idea of Jewish guilt was decisively repudiated more than 40 years ago by the Second Vatican Council, opening an optimistic new era in Christian-Jewish relations. Interfaith leaders do not want to see that era of good feeling reversed, and neither do we."
-- Catholic New York, February 2004.
"We want to assure each of you that the content of this movie will be used by us and the members of our congregations solely to tell the story of our faith and not to hold the Jewish people responsible for the death of Jesus. We believe that Jesus willingly died for all our sins and it is wrong to use this powerful and important story to foment anti-Semitism.
"We are sorry for any fear or anxiety that any of you feel concerning this movie and we hope that our commitment will in some way ease your concerns. All of us value the Jewish roots of our faith and we are committed to building lasting and respectful relationships between our communities."
--Open Letter to the Jewish Community of Denver, signed by 49 local Christian clergy, February 20, 2004.
"In producing and promoting this movie, Gibson is playing with dynamite. ... I'm not talking about a question of political correctness. This film is dangerously irresponsible."
-- John Dominic Crossan, Catholic Bible scholar and author, Detroit Free Press, February 19, 2004.
"The script, when we got it, shocked us." … (Catholic and Jewish scholars) "pinpointed its historical errors and - again, since Mr. Gibson has so trumpeted his own Catholicism - its deviations from magisterial principles of biblical interpretation."
-- Paula Fredriksen , Professor of Theology, Boston College, a member of a panel of scholars that reviewed Gibson's original script.
"It is vital that we Jews and Christians talk together about this topic that has been a source of bitter division for centuries, led to violence against Jews, and compromised the integrity of the Christian proclamation of the Gospels."
-- Sister Mary C. Boys , Catholic scholar, Union Theological Seminary
Popular movies, such as “The Passion of the Christ”, give all viewers an opportunity to reflect on historical events and to debate the meaning of them for our times. The crucifixion of Jesus has deep spiritual meaning for the Christian people. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus was a devout Jew of his day who suffered and died while bearing a message of salvation for all people. ... We, ourselves, take this occasion of public dialogue on the “Passion” movie, to express the Catholic Church’s deep respect for the Jewish people and opposition to any form of anti-Semitism.
-- Charles V. Grahmann, Bishop of Dallas, and Joseph A. Galante, Coadjutor, Bishop of Dallas, statement in The Texas Catholic, February 2004
"The Catholic Church clearly teaches that neither the Jews at the time of Christ nor Jews today can be charged with His death. We sinners are the guilty ones for the crimes of His passion and death. That is why we lovingly and reverently refer to Jesus as "our Redeemer." The passion and death of Jesus was a horrific human suffering and it is essential to Christian identity and salvation. The gospels are clear that some Jews called for His death. But from apostolic times, the Church has professed, "He suffered under Pontius Pilate", a Roman governor. It would be tragic and abhorrent for anyone to use this film to stir-up anti-Semitic feelings. We will stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters in trying to prevent any resurgence of anti-Semitism. I hope that Christians who see the movie will see themselves as responsible for Christ's death and that it will be a profound spiritual experience of repentance and conversion to a better Christian life.
-- Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, The Diocese of Galveston-Houston, TX
"The Second Vatican Council definitively teaches us that 'neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during His Passion ... The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from Holy Scripture.'
"I wish to make it clear to everyone who has seen or will see this movie, "The Passion of the Christ" that Sacred Scripture, and the dramatization thereof, must never serve as a source of division of hatred. And that there is nothing more contrary to the Gospel values of Jesus' teaching than racism and bigotry. Religion should never support violence or injustice."
-- The Most Rev. James A. Murray, Bishop of Kalamazoo, Michigan, March 2004
"What is most unfortunate is that the film's shallow presentation on the life of Jesus and the significance of the resurrection will leave viewers focused on the harsh and cruel reality of the crucifixion of Jesus, offering little opportunity to identify with the life and hope offered in Jesus Christ for all mankind. The shallow presentation of the chief rabbi and his role, as well as the close personification of evil journeying with him, will give viewers an inaccurate and unjust portrayal of Jews and Judaism, and may contribute to fuel the ugly passion of anti-Semitism."
-- The Most Rev. Stefan Soroka , Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, USA
"Mel Gibson showed me his film, "The Passion of the Christ" shortly before Christmas. No question, this is a very powerful film. I believe that it follows the New Testament's Gospel account fairly close. I agree with you 100 percent that our sins put Jesus on the cross. Each and everyone in the human race bear the responsibility. In no way do I hold the Jewish people responsible. Be assured that I will do everything I can to remind people of this fact."
-- Franklin Graham , in a letter to ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, January 28, 2004
"I believe there is a serious crisis building here. Without an addition of the kind we're urging, this film will be used to fuel anti-Semitism around the world."
-- Michael Evans , a Dallas-based evangelical minister who is campaigning for a postscript to Gibson's film, Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2004
"Traditional anti-Semitism is at least 2,000 years old …. I think it's very appropriate to be very concerned that the film can fuel traditional anti-Semitism. And that the last thing we would need now is a combination of the two things. Because it's hard enough to face the new challenges much less to see some of the old ones revived, which with the actions of the Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II, I thought we had put behind us."
-- Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in remarks to the Anti-Defamation League, February 5, 2004
"Gibson is part of a breakaway group of Catholics which, in opposition to Church teaching, has restored the Latin Mass, and, most significantly, does not accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. It does not mean that Mr. Gibson is an anti-Semite, as some have charged, but it does mean that he has approached the making of a film on such a sensitive subject with what many see as remarkable insensitivity.
-- Rabbi David Rosen , Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Houston, TX, August 16, 2003
"What I saw was the worst portrayal of Jesus on film I have ever seen. Stereotypic, anti-Semitic portrayals of the Jews abounded. Jews here are shysters and cold-blooded opportunists. That's just for starters. Mel Gibson's Jews are cruel and sadistic, taking turns with the Romans, as they beat Jesus for well over half the movie."
-- Rabbi Robert N. Levine , Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York City, after screening the film at the invitation of the New York Post.