TORONTO, May 6, 2009 – The movie Angels and Demons, based on the Dan Brown novel of the same name, is scheduled to open in North America on May 15. The Catholic Civil Rights League has these comments about the storyline:
Prequel to The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons concerns a vendetta against the Catholic Church by a “centuries’ old secret society,” the Illuminati.
The story features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon of “The Da Vinci Code” fame, played by Tom Hanks in both movies. In Angels and Demons, the Vatican turns to Langdon after the Illuminati kidnap four cardinals considered front-runners to be the next pope, and threaten to kill one an hour and then explode a bomb at the Vatican.
“While Angels and Demons is not the direct challenge to the foundations of Christianity that the Da Vinci Code was, there are enough errors and stereotypes in the book that many Catholics could find the movie annoying if not downright offensive,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “Those who like suspense films with a science fiction component may well enjoy it, but the stereotyping it promotes – notably that the Church is forever at odds with science – is simply untrue.”
The generally positive nature of the Church’s relationship with scientific inquiry is an important reason why science, and the disciplines of astronomy, medicine and engineering, to name just a few, tended to develop earlier in Western nations than elsewhere. There are many good articles and books that tell this story accurately, and a few of the better ones will be linked from our website.
Even the work of Galileo, typically the poster child for the “Church-anti-science” crew, was sponsored by the Church for most of his career, and he was the first leader of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. His conflict with Church authorities, and house arrest, was an anomaly in the historical record, and probably had more to do with arrogance than his ideas. Copernicus, whose hypotheses about the revolution of the earth Galileo tried to claim was provable fact, was a priest.
The historical record of the Illuminati puts it at considerable variance with the Angels and Demons version. According to the story, the society vowed vengeance on the Vatican 400 years ago; according to the facts, the society was established in 1776 and folded in 1787. Galileo could hardly have been a founder or a member; he died in 1642. There is also no evidence that any members were “hunted down” or persecuted, as the book claims.
Other threads in the story – notably the fictional pope who, as a young priest, wanted to have a child with his beloved but did so through in vitro fertilization in order to remain chaste – are too absurd to take seriously.
The crew was denied permission to film on the grounds of the Vatican. At a press conference May 3, director Ron Howard said he hadn’t sought cooperation from the Vatican based on the opposition he encountered filming The Da Vinci Code.
Finally, there are reports that the movie removes all Muslim references from the book’s characterization of the main assassin in the movie. If true, the concern for religious and cultural stereotyping is remarkable, but once again not something Hollywood has extended to Catholicism.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org
Are Science and Religion Really Enemies?, by Father Tad Pacholczyk
Debunking the Galileo Myth, by Dinesh De Souza
God and Evolution, By Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.
The Quarrel the Evolutionists Started, By Janine Langan
All copyrights acknowledged as the property of their respective owners. The League thanks Catholic Educators Resource Centre for assistance in researching the above links.
Movies speak to a common bias, by Joanne McGarry