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Italy to pull ‘Da Vinci’ ad from church

Clergy complain about poster placed on scaffolding of Rome edifice
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Interior Ministry said Tuesday it would remove a poster promoting “The Da Vinci Code” movie from the scaffolding of a Rome church undergoing renovation after its clergymen complained, officials said Tuesday.

The enormous poster, featuring a picture of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and the title of the upcoming film, has been plastered for a few weeks on the scaffolded facade of the church of St. Pantaleo, which is located just off a major thoroughfare in Rome’s historic center.

The Rev. Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for Rome’s Vicariate, said the poster was “causing a problem.”

“This movie is not reputed to be particularly appreciated by ecclesiastic circles,” Fibbi said.

Church officials have spoken out repeatedly against the best-selling novel by Dan Brown and the upcoming film, which stars Tom Hanks and is scheduled for release May 19.

The story contends that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendants, and that Opus Dei, a conservative religious organization close to the Vatican, and the Catholic Church were at the center of covering it up.

“It advertises something that is against Christ and against the church,” St. Pantaleo’s rector, the Rev. Adolfo Garcia Duran, told The Associated Press.

The Interior Ministry, which owns the church and awarded the contract for the renovation to an external company, said the poster would be removed in the next few days. Officials confirmed the Rome Vicariate had sent a letter requesting the poster be taken down.

Plastering posters on scaffolding is a common advertising technique in Rome.

Opus Dei and other church officials have spoken out against the novel, with an Italian cardinal, Tarcisio Bertone, calling for a boycott of the book last year.

Opus Dei, portrayed as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the novel, has described “The Da Vinci Code” as a work of fantasy that offers a deformed image of the Catholic Church.

In a recent homily, the preacher for the papal household, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, denounced theories that make huge profits in denying Catholic teaching about Jesus.

Cantalamessa, a Franciscan priest, did not cite “The Da Vinci Code” by name, but he obviously appeared to refer to it and to the upcoming movie.

“No one succeeds in stopping this speculative wave, that instead will register a boom with the imminent release of a certain film,” the preacher said.