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Vatican ‘Passion’ Screenings Delayed

December 10, 2003

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ The film has already won praise from several top religious leaders, but plans for a wider Vatican screening of Mel Gibson’s Biblical epic ``The Passion of Christ″ have been delayed, organizers of a religious film convention said.

The private screening as part of a convention on spirituality in film was planned for Tuesday evening, but organizers were told by Gibson’s Icon Productions company that the film is still not finished.

``At this time, we would prefer to wait and screen a completed film being as it is only weeks away from being finished,″ said an e-mail sent to organizers.

Gibson plans to open the film in the United States on Feb. 25, which is Ash Wednesday on the Roman Catholic calendar.

The film about the crucifixion of Christ has drawn complaints from some Jewish leaders, who say it suggests Jews were responsible for Christ’s death.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who saw an unfinished version of the film in September, rejected suggestions that the film may offend Jewish sensibilities and promote anti-Semitism.

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