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Vatican kept waiting for Melís Christ

Vatican City, Dec. 2 (Reuters): Bishops and cardinals waiting for a special Vatican screening of a controversial Mel Gibson film about Jesus Christ are going to have to wait a little longer, the Hollywood star has told them.

The select audience were hoping to have a private screening of The Passion of Christ this evening as part of a convention on spirituality in film. But Gibsonís Icon Production company told organisers in an e-mail yesterday night that the actor-director was still working on the final version and asked them to wait because ďthe film is only weeks away from being finished.Ē

The movie, which covers the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ, has come under fire from some Jewish groups who claim its story could foment anti-Semitism because it portrays Jewish authorities as largely responsible for Christís death.

But Catholic and other Christian groups, as well as biblical scholars, have defended the film, saying it sticks closely to accounts of the crucifixion as told in the New Testament.

Organisers of the religious film festival said that Gibsonís company had promised a private screening for Vatican officials and religious experts before it is due to open in the United States on February 25 of next year.

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