To the editor:
I recently read an article in my local newspaper, reprinted from the Times/Post News Service, that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone appealed to Roman Catholics not to read or buy “The DaVinci Code” by Dan Brown because it “falsifies the figure of Christ and the events central to the Christian experience, namely the passion of Christ, his death and resurrection.” Although I agree with this assessment of the book, I disagree with banning the book as the best approach to dealing with the issue. I can only guess what the response might be from Catholics elsewhere in the world, but I don’t believe this ban would be seriously adhered to in the United States. In fact, censorship of the book is likely to have the opposite effect of encouraging more people to read the book or — worse yet — run to see the movie when it is released. When I read the Cardinal’s concerns, I interpreted them to indicate that he did not think highly of the average Catholic’s grasp of Catholic theology, and that he feared reading the book would lead toward weakening of one’s faith. If this is the case, the solution is not censorship, but education.
As a parent, I long ago learned the term “a teachable moment,” and, in my mind, this is one such moment. I think the Cardinal should promote “The DaVinci Code” as required reading for all Catholics and then request pastors, theologians and educators to instruct their respective parishioners on the truths, myths, and heresies contained therein. If this is not feasible, then alternative sources of information can be found from such books as “Truth and Fiction in the DaVinci Code” by Bart Ehrman or “Secrets of the Code” by Dan Burstein. Don’t shun the book. Read it, “decode it,” and, in the process, learn more about the truths of your faith.