Vatican Media Watch

Vatican Denounces Violence in Darfur

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, March 14 — The Vatican denounced daily brutality in Sudan’s Darfur region and said an institution was needed specifically to deal with the plight of internally displaced people, it was reported by the French news service.

“The attacks are brutal and violent and human rights violations are a daily occurrence,” said the statement, quoting Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu of the Vatican mission to the United Nations and U.N. agencies.

“Particularly vulnerable are women subjected to rape and other forms of degradation,” he told delegates last week at a meeting in Geneva of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Nwachukwu said those who succeeded in leaving Darfur — where Arab militias backed by the government are razing villages in a war against rebels from the black population — and gaining access to refugee camps across the border in Chad were the luckier ones.

“If individuals and families stay behind, they end up joining one of the largest internally displaced families in the world, often at high risk and where security cannot be guaranteed,” he said.

The report said about 550,000 people have taken refuge in neighboring countries and more than four million are displaced inside Sudan, Africa’s largest nation, where a deal was reached this year to end a civil war which has ravaged the south since 1983.

Cardinal to Rebut Da Vinci Code Lies

LONDON TIMES, MARCH 15 — The Vatican has appointed a top cardinal to rebut what it says are the lies, distortions and errors in Dan Brown’s bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code, according to the online version of the daily.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa, immediately took up the fight March 14 by claiming that the novel was a deliberate attempt to discredit the Roman Catholic Church through absurd and vulgar falsifications. At the heart of the book is the notion that the Church has for centuries concealed the fact that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, a former prostitute, and that she bore him a child.

The cardinal said that the book reminded him of intemperate anti-clerical pamphlets of the 19th century. He was to seek to debunk the conspiracy theories at the heart of the plot in a string of public debates on the work beginning in Genoa March 16. He said he was distressed to discover that even Catholic bookshops were selling the book. “We are clearly facing a formidable distribution strategy here,” he said.

“The book is everywhere. There is a very real risk that many people who read it will believe that the fables it contains are true.”

A perceived blurring of fact and fiction has caused the Vatican to act. Andrea Tornielli, a papal biographer, said it was particularly alarmed at the sight of tourists in Rome using The Da Vinci Code as a guide to Christianity, the report stated.

It has spawned numerous spin-off books, including The Da Vinci Hoax and The Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code.