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bullet "The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic." Mel Gibson, speaking to a Christian group in Colorado during the summer of 2003.

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About Mel Gibson:

Mel Gibson (b. 1958) is an Academy Award winning actor and director. He wrote, directed, produced, and financed the "The Passion of the Christ." He is from a large Catholic family of 10 brothers and sisters. He and his wife, Robyn, have one daughter and six sons. 3 His only daughter, Hannah (b. 1983) has decided to become a nun. He told the Italian newspaper Il Giornale: "I believe in God. My love of religion was given to me by my father.... I was happy when Hannah decided to become a nun."

Gibson's precise religious affiliation is unclear. He once considered entering the Roman Catholic priesthood. He has described himself as "an old-fashioned Catholic." He has made speeches opposing abortion access, the use of contraceptives, and equal rights for gays and lesbians. He experienced a spiritual crisis in the mid 1990s at the age of 35. Gibson told The New Yorker magazine: "I got to a desperate place...And I just hit my knees. I had to use [Christ's] wounds to heal my wounds." 7 During 2002-SEP, he revealed that he no longer believed in the Roman Catholic Church as an institution. He said: "I agree with everyone who says the Vatican is a wolf in sheep's clothing." 3 He lives in the parish served by the Roman Catholic church "Our Lady of Malibu." However, he has funded construction of his own traditionalist, independent church: the Church of the Holy Family, in the same area. The mass is conducted in Latin. 4 His church is allegedly not affiliated with any Roman Catholic diocese. "So, according to Church law, it’s schismatic, not a Catholic church at all....The Church’s Code of Canon Law defines schism--separation from the Church--as 'the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him'." 2

In the interview with Il Giornale he said: "I believe in God. My love of religion was given to me by my father." Mel Gibson allegedly shares many beliefs with his father, Hutton. The elder Gibson "is an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church and a vocal adherent of the 'sedevacantist' movement, so called from the Latin phrase meaning 'empty seat'..." 2 The group is a subset of the Catholic Traditionalist movement, and has a total membership of only a few thousand adherents. They deviate from the Roman Catholic church in some fundamental ways. They believe:

bullet That the office of pope in the Roman Catholic Church is currently vacant.
bullet That every pope since 1960 has been spurious.
bullet Many of the reforms of the Vatican II council (1962 to 1965) are heretical.
bullet The mass is to be conducted in Latin, not in the native language of the people.
bullet Mary is regarded as a co-redemptrix and mediatrix, sharing these powers with Jesus Christ.

This essay continues below.

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Gibson feels that God called him to make this movie. Justifying the extreme violence, he told 5,000 pastors at an early Chicago screening: "Blood was always required in covenants of the Old Testament. Blood was really required here and every drop of it. It's a blood sacrifice....It will probably be savaged by critics. But I've had my career, and I'm bored with it. I created a secular utopia for myself in Hollywood, but it was empty. There are more important things. Civilization was changed forever by Christ. Whether you're a believer or not, His death affects you." 7

In an interview with the EWTN Network, Mel Gibson said that the movie: "...reflects my beliefs-I’ve never done that before....I don’t know if I will ever work again. I’ve said that this is a career killer and it could well be, but that doesn’t matter because I don’t care." 1 In an interview with Christianity Today, he said: "I've been actually amazed at the way I would say the evangelical audience has—hands down—responded to this film more than any other Christian group." What makes it so amazing, he says, is that "the film is so Marian." 6 reports that Mel Gibson has selected the topic of his next movie. It will describe the Jewish rebellion which occurred about two centuries before the birth of Jesus. He said: "The story that's always fired my imagination is the book of Maccabees....It's about Antiochus, the king who set up his religion in the [Jerusalem] Temple and forced them all to deny their true God and worship at his feet and pray to false gods....Maccabees stood up and they made war, they stuck by their guns and they came out winning. It's like a Western." The victory of the Maccabees and a priest named Mattathias led to the celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. 8

On 2004-AUG-31, Christianity Today reporteds that: "According to an article in last week's TV Guide, Gibson was so stung by the charges of anti-Semitism that he's spent much of the last six months relatively in hibernation—well out of the limelight. The accusations 'affected him greatly,' Father William Fulco, who spent long hours on the set in Italy, told TV Guide. Another friend, who preferred to remain anonymous, told the magazine, 'I never see him anymore. I think he's hiding in his house'." 9

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  1. "EWTN to air 2nd exclusive interview with Mel Gibson on 'The Passion of Christ'," EWTN. com, 2004-JAN-13, at:
  2. "Actor's activism points to schism, author says," 2002, at: (Essay is no longer online as of 2004-FEB)
  3. "Mel Gibson's only daughter opts to be a nun," Sydney Morning Herald, 2002-SEP-15, at:
  4. "Mel Gibson fuels old fires,", 2003-SEP, at:
  5. Raymond Taouk, "What are we to think of the Sedevacantist Position?," Catholic Apologetics
  6. David Neff, "Mel, Mary, and Mothers," Christianity Today, 2004-FEB-20, at:
  7. Todd Hertz, "Mel Gibson's 'Passion' for Christ," Christian Reader, 2004-MAR/APR. Online at:
  8. "Biblical 'Western' to follow Passion,", 2004-MAR-19, at:
  9. Mark Moring, "Mel Gibson's film now on video," Christianity Today, 2004-AUG-31, at:

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Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-FEB-24
Latest update: 2004-SEP-9
Author: B.A. Robinson

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