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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

March 29, 2007

The Passion of the Christ

As Holy Week approaches you may be considering showing or assigning some of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. As you know it’s a vivid portrayal of the passion events, beginning with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The movie initially sparked charges of anti-Semitism against Gibson and the producers which was quelled somewhat on distribution but reared its ugly ahead again after Gibson was arrested for drunk driving and was recorded spewing anti-Semite material against the arresting officer.

A suggestion as part of any viewing of The Passion of the Christ is to address the larger issue of anti-Semitism. The United States’ Catholic Bishops' Committee collection of documents on “The Bible, The Jews, and The Death of Jesus” offers an overview of the issue.

Also, there are a slew of helpful websites that provide background and study guide material for the film. Some of these are listed below:

Finally, after the assignment, consider having the students read and comment on the Fr. Raymond Brown article "The Death of Jesus and Anti-Semitism: Seeking Interfaith Understanding."

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