Brazilian bishop MONSIGNOR JOSE MARIA PINHEIRO has hit out at a Catholic cardinal who's demanded bestselling novel THE DA VINCI CODE should be boycotted.

CARDINAL TARCISIO BERTONE, the Archbishop of Genoa, has branded DAN BROWN's sensational book, which is packed with religion-based conspiracy theories, "shameful".

But Pinheiro - nominated to be bishop of Sao Paulo by POPE JOHN PAUL II - has staunchly defended the book, suggesting readers should use "prudence".

He has dismissed Bertone's stance on the smash hit book as personal, insisting his comments are not valid as official church views.

The controversial work claims that the Holy Grail is in fact the bloodline descended from Jesus Christ and MARY MAGDALENE - which the Church allegedly covered up, along with the importance of the female role in Christianity.

Pinheiro says, "I don't know if people are capable of distinguishing the elements of fiction from those of reality. It is important to talk to young people about it so that they can differentiate, but I don't think it's necessary to ban it."

17/03/2005 17:26