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"It is as it was"

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. ( articles - email ) | Dec 17, 2003

According to Catholic writer Peggy Noonan, Pope John Paul II has seen "The Passion of Jesus Christ" and given his approval. He relayed five words to the makers of the film: "It is as it was."

John Paul II, who even with the challenges of his current illness has more good sense than many of his cardinals, knew of the controversy surrounding Mr. Gibson's film, and wanted to see it. Producer Steve McEveety, who had flown to Rome uninvited to show the film to as many Vatican officials as he could, gave the DVD to Msgr. Dziwisz on Friday, Dec. 5. The monsignor and the pope watched it together. Where did they watch it? I asked Mr. McEveety in a telephone interview this week. "At the pope's pad," he laughed. In the papal apartments. "He had to watch it late in the evening," Mr. McEveety said of John Paul. "He's pretty well booked. But he really wanted to see it."

Afterwards, Msgr. Dziwisz gave Mr. McEveety the pope's reaction. The pope found it very powerful, and approved of it. Mr. McEveety was delighted. Msgr. Dziwisz added that the pope said to him, as the film neared its end, five words that he wished to pass on: "It is as it was." The film, the Holy Father felt, tells the story the way the story happened. A week later Mr. McEveety was marveling at what he felt was the oracular quality of the statement. "Five words. Eleven letters." (I asked the pope's veteran press spokesman, Dr Joaquin Navarro-Valles, if he knew if the pope had said anything beyond "It is as it was." He e-mailed back that he did not know of any further comments.)

That's enough for me. Of course, I was looking forward to seeing it in any case.

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