LOS ANGELES, March 10, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - Ahead of the release of Ron Howard's movie based on the best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code" in May, US Catholic bishops on Thursday, March 9, launched a Web site to refute the novel's allegations about the marital relationship of Jesus Christ.
"The Da Vinci Code' is a mess, a riot of laughable errors and serious misstatements. Almost every page has at least one of each," the bishops wrote on the Web site Jesusdecoded.com, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched the new Web site to counter key claims made in Dan Brown's novel that are to be brought to the big screen in Howard's movie.
"What this novel does (is) ... asks people to consider equivalent to the mainstream Christian tradition quite a few odd claims. Some are merely distortions of hypotheses advanced by serious scholars who do serious research. Others, however, are inaccurate or false," the site says.
The bishops said the site was aimed at providing "accurate information on the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity prior to the release of the movie.
It offers articles written by theologians, media commentators, art experts and others that "provide background and also rebut speculation and inaccuracies about Christ and the origins of Christianity.
Brown's novel, which has sold nearly 40 million copies worldwide, hinges on the theory that Christ married Mary Magdalene and that they had children.
Monsignor Francis Maniscalco of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, however, said that the Web site was not a knee-jerk defensive reaction.
"Reporters have asked whether even a bestselling novel can seriously damage a Church of one billion believers. No, in the long run, it cannot. But that is not the point. The concern of the Church is for each and every person," he said on the Web site.
"If only one person were to come away with a distorted impression of Jesus Christ or his Church, our concern is for that person as if he or she were the whole world."
The movie version of the film, heralded as one of the major cinematic events of 2006, will star Tom Hanks, French actress Audrey Tautou, and British actors Sir Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany.
In 2003, a US news television was criticized by Catholic bishops for intention to broadcast a one-hour program on whether Jesus Christ had been a married man and a father.
The ABC News program, based also on "The Da Vinci Code," was to air "Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci," to explore the lives of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.
Muslim countries have been pressing the UN to "pass binding resolutions obliging all countries to respect religions and religious symbols, similarly to the anti-Semitism laws" in the aftermath of Danish cartoons that lampooned Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
They further wanted respect of religions a bedrock in the planned UN Human Rights Council.
They said in a proposal to the United Nations that the "defamation of religions and prophets is inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression" and that states, organizations and the media have a "responsibility in promoting tolerance and respect for religious and cultural values."