The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of the country’s Catholic community, has demanded a ban on the film Angels and Demons, the prequel to The Da Vinci Code, in India.
CBCI Secretary General Stanislaus Fernandes wrote to the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Sharmila Tagore on Friday, asking for a ban on the release of the film. The Catholic Secular Forum, an NGO, had made representations to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and censor board to stop the film from being screened in India.
The film is set for worldwide release on May 15. Some Catholics feel it is blasphemous and ridicules their faith.
“This film could seriously hurt religious sentiments,” said CBCI spokesperson Father Babu Joseph. “Christianity is not understood by the majority of people in India yet, and many non-Christians may mistake the content as the truth.”
Father Anthony Charanghat, spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese in Mumbai, said: “We are calling on Christians to adhere to the principle of not supporting anything that goes against our faith. We are asking people not to watch it.”
Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum, said he was concerned the film could create disharmony and encourage the persecution of Christians.
Managing director of the distributors Sony Pictures, India, Kercy Daruwala, said the movie was based on a book that was a work of fiction. “We haven’t sent it to the censor board yet. It will be up to the board to decide what to do.”
Vinayak Azaad, regional officer of the censor board, said the Catholic Secular Forum had contacted them saying they wanted the film banned. “We cannot take a stance until we have seen the film.”