Local

Website explores questions about ‘The Passion’

byMeghan Dorney
3/5/2004

In anticipation of the release of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the Daughters of St. Paul, whose charism is to evangelize through modern communications, have created a website focused on answering questions or addressing concerns about the movie. The website, www.ChristsPassion.com, was launched Feb. 13.

Sister Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, director of electronic publishing for Pauline Books and Media, explained that the website was developed as an informative outlet for people who have seen the movie or who wish to know more about Jesus Christ and the Passion.

"The website came up because we figured that a lot of people are going to see the movie -- people who know about Jesus [and] people who haven't heard a word about Jesus -- Christians and non-Christians," said Sister Kathryn James, who plans to see the movie on its opening day Feb. 25. "Due to the strength of the portrayal, people will necessarily leave with questions or they'll leave with inspirations. Something that may have touched them in that movie will make them want to go to find out more or want to respond to what Jesus has done for them."

According to Sister Kathryn James, the website directly addresses a variety of questions viewers may have such as: Why did Jesus die the way He did? How should one to talk to children about the Passion? What is salvation? How can one respond to Jesus through a religious vocation?

The site features four main sections focused on the cinematography of the film, the meaning of salvation, the question of human suffering, and what the Passion means for each of us as individuals.

One article on the site entitled “Who really was to blame for the death of Christ?” deals with the current controversy over issues of anti-Semitism raised by some critics of the film.

"The crucifixion is a contemplation, and, because of that, we have to look into the eyes of Jesus and we see love and forgiveness. When we experience this love and forgiveness we realize Jesus died for each one of us," explained Sister Kathryn James who wrote the article. "He is the one who had everyone to blame and didn't blame anybody but decided to love and forgive."

The Daughters of St. Paul have sent announcements to over 8,000 parishes around the country to raise awareness of their website. Several dioceses have also posted links on their diocesan homepages.

Sister Kathryn James compares those who will see the movie to the Roman centurion, who after witnessing Jesus’ crucifixion believed that He really was the Son of God. The centurion, like all of us, needs an outlet to cultivate his new or reawakened faith, she said. She hopes their website can be a resource for people wishing to respond to the film.

"We are all in that centurion's place as we watch again, in a way that we cannot ignore, that Christ died for our sins," she said. "That has so much impact that we are like the centurion -- something rises up within us. The website is meant to be the next step, the next place people go with what has risen up within them so that it is not seed that has fallen on ground that doesn't have a farmer to go back over it."