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Cardinal lashes out at ''The Da Vinci Code''

Cardinal lashes out at ”The Da Vinci Code.” He accuses the bestseller of spreading ”absurd manipulations” about Catholicism

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It looks like there’s at least one person who’s not looking forward to next summer’s Tom Hanks blockbuster. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, denounced the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code — which director Ron Howard is adapting for a film starring Hanks and Audrey Tautou — for attempting ”to discredit the Church and its history through gross and absurd manipulations.”

The Da Vinci Code, by American author Dan Brown, is built on the premise that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children together. Bertone called this and the fiction novel’s other takes on the Catholic faith to be ”like a throwback to the old anti-clerical pamphlets of the 1800s.” He also called for Catholic bookshops to stop selling it.

Bertone will participate in a roundtable in Genoa, Italy, on Wednesday that will attempt to refute the book’s plot points. ”The risk is that many people who read it believe that those fairy tales are real,” Bertone said. ”I think I have the responsibility to clear things up to unmask the cheap lies contained in books like that.”

The film version of The Da Vinci Code is slated for May 2006 release.