Holding signs bearing such statements as “Stop Catholic Bashing,” “Boycott DaVinci Code” and “Stop Religious Persecution,” about two dozen Catholics picketed the noontime opening of “The DaVinci Code” outside the Regal Culver-Ridge Cinemas in Irondequoit May 19.
The picketers stood on the East Ridge Road sidewalk by the theater’s parking lot and prayed the rosary. Occasionally, someone driving by would honk his or her car horn, or give a thumbs-up to the protesters, many of whom said they would not see the movie. The protesters said their demonstration was one of several planned for area theaters showing the movie that day.
The controversial film, based on the best-selling book of the same name, posits that Jesus — who was not divine — married Mary Magdalene and that the descendants of their child live in secret today. It further alleges that the Catholic Church and others have guarded this secret for centuries.
Vincent Gorre, a parishioner at St. Stanislaus Church, Rochester, said the protest was one of several planned at area theaters that day. He added that he didn’t believe Catholics should patronize a movie he termed “blasphemous.”
“Everything that we believe as Catholics is attacked in the book and the movie,” Gorre said. “Even if it’s fiction, it’s blasphemy. Making fun of God is blasphemy. Making fun of the sacred is blasphemy.”
Gorre added that his group’s action was one of more than 1,000 protests slated to take place across the country that day, encouraged by the conservative Catholic group The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. The group’s Web site, www.tfp.org, has been tracking the number of “DaVinci” protests since the film opened. According to a number of different reports, reaction to “The DaVinci Code” has ranged from protests like the one in Irondequoit to outright bans in certain countries.
When asked how he could judge a film he refused to see, Gorre said: “I don’t have to taste poison to know it’s deadly.” On that note, another protester, Barbara Fredericks, a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Irondequoit, added that no one would want to read a fictional book that depicted his or her mother as a prostitute.
“We don’t like these false lies being spread about Christ,” she said.
Gorre also noted that he didn’t think everyone reading the book or seeing the movie was doing so for entertainment purposes.
“They’re reading the book seeking the truth,” he said. “For those Catholics and Christians who don’t have a strong foundation in their faith, they may be led to believe this falsehood.”
Lucian Scaccia likened “The DaVinci Code” to a religious hate crime, and added that he joined the protest because when he was confirmed, he was told that he had become a “soldier of Christ.”
“It’s time to stand up and fight for our church,” he said.
Many of the protesters complained that if a film had been made denigrating Muslims or Jews, the outrage would have been more widespread, and added that Hollywood seems to go out of it way to target Catholics for derision.
Scott Whitcomb, who attends Our Lady of Victory Church in Rochester, also said he didn’t believe the protesters were inadvertently promoting the film by giving it publicity.
“I think what we’re doing is causing a lot of negative publicity,” he said.
Johanna Valentini of St. Cecilia Church, Rochester, said she feared the movie could “destroy things in the church.”
“I really feel it’s an attack of the enemy — Satan himself — to confuse people and maybe destroy faith in the process,” she said.
Inside the Regal, however, Anne and Rick Hudson, parishioners at Church of the Epiphany in Sodus, said they planned to see the movie and dismissed the concerns of the protesters.
“It’s really too bad that as adults they don’t realize it’s fiction,” Anne said. “This does not shake my faith. It makes me realize that there are many ways of looking at faith versus religion.”