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    Russian Orthodox Church against screening Da Vinci Code

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Orthodox Church shares the Vatican's opposition to screening a film based on Dan Brown's international bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" because of the novel's blasphemous content, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchy said Wednesday.

    Mikhail Dudko said that although "The Da Vinci Code" was based on a fictitious story, it would be wrong to regard the book and its movie version, due to be released in May, merely as works of art.

    "We, people of faith, are used to paying a lot of attention to words and images, and we know just how powerful they can be. This is something not to be overlooked in today's fragile and troubled world."

    Dudko said that the controversial novel misrepresented the history of Christianity and events described in the Gospels. "The sheer assumption that Christ could have had children out of wedlock is insulting to believers."

    He said the upcoming screen version could be even more offensive than the novel itself, as visual images usually produce a stronger effect on people than literary imagery.

    Leaders of Russia's Roman Catholic community, however, are less adamantly opposed to the idea of bringing "The Da Vinci Code" to the screen than their Orthodox counterparts.

    The head of the Conference of Russian Catholic Bishops, Igor Kovalevsky, speaking to RIA Novosti on Wednesday, played down the threat allegedly posed by the book and the upcoming film.

    "I don't think this will be a particularly controversial film," he said, calling on believers not to overreact. "If people take this as a true historical account, a controversy may arise, but it will then be largely a result of viewers' personal ignorance."

    "To me personally, the book is not blasphemous," Kovalevsky said. "This is just a thriller. But associating the events [described in the book] with real historical [events] is nonsense. We should bear in mind which genre the work belongs to."

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