Monday, October 06, 2008

Vatican City -
Pope Benedict XVI's bestselling book, Jesus of Nazareth, can help thwart the "confusion" caused by books such as US author Dan Brown's The Da Vinci code, a top Roman Catholic cleric suggested Monday. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the General Reporter of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, referred to the pontiff's book during the first session of the synod - a series of discussions involving top Catholic clerics from around the world.

While the pontiff's book, published in 2007, and which recounts Jesus'life, is not meant as an official text of Church teaching, it "remains a lighthouse which protects from the rocks and shipwrecks," Ouellet said.

"It is a work that helps dissipate the confusion propagated by certain media phenomena, and serves to relaunch the Church's dialogue with contemporary culture," he added.

Ouellet did not name The Da Vinci Code, but a note on the text of his remarks issued by the Vatican, specifically referred to Brown's 2003 book as an example of the "media phenomena" the cardinal mentioned.

The Da Vinci Code, which speculates on the possibility that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered children has, together with its 2006 Hollywood blockbuster film version, drawn criticism from the Vatican and other Christian representatives.

The theme of the Synod which lasts until October 26 is The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church and centres on how the clergy can help the faithful become better acquainted with the Bible - carrying forward one of the reforms introduced by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

For centuries, the Catholic Church had taught that the holy scriptures should be left for the clergy to interpret on behalf of the faithful.

During the Synod participants are called to express their opinions on matters on an individual basis. The Pope may also approve and promulgate decrees or resolutions stemming from the discussions.

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