Based on initial media reports, we have serious concerns about the film you are currently making about the last hours of the life of Jesus, "The Passion," and would like to be assured that it will not give rise to the old canard of charging Jews with deicide and to anti-Semitism.
Passion plays have an infamous history of leading to hatred, violence and even death of Jews. Given your talent and celebrity, how you depict the death of Jesus will have widespread influence on people's ideas, attitudes and behavior towards Jews today.
The Catholic Church has confronted its tradition of teaching of contempt for Jews and its charge of deicide leveled against the Jewish people and unequivocally repudiated both. The Church understands that only teachings which promote understanding and reconciliation toward the Jewish people can represent religious truth and the word of God.
As a respected international movie icon, you have a great responsibility in the message ultimately promoted by the film, one we hope that is positive. We look forward to your response on this urgent issue.
Abraham H. Foxman
Media Watch ADL monitors electronic and print media reports about the Middle East