Mel Gibson's controversial movie The Passion Of The Christ has received support from an unlikely source - after the Filipino Archbishop urged Christians to go and watch it.

The ultra-violent film depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life and has been criticised for being sadistic and anti-Semitic.

But ARCHBISHOP GAUDENCIO ROSALES of Manila believes it is a deeply religious film of genuine artistic and religious value, because of the strong presence of Jesus' mother MARY throughout.

In the Philippines - Asia's most populous Catholic country - Catholics are notoriously passionate, sometimes even nailing themselves to crosses to mark Easter, the anniversary of Christ's resurrection.

Rosales says, "All Christians should try to see this film. Try to see it in an atmosphere of quiet and prayerful reflection, instead of seeking to be merely entertained,"

The gore-soaked film has confounded critics by topping the America box office since its release four weeks ago.

30/03/2004 02:11