Vatican officials and Opus Dei, the Roman Catholic group portrayed negatively in "The Da Vinci Code," spent part of Good Friday reminding the public of their objections to the film, which has not yet been released.
Opus Dei's Japan office asked Sony Corp. to include a disclaimer that would label the thriller as entirely fictional, calling such a decision "an expression of respect toward Jesus Christ, the history of the church and the religious beliefs of viewers."
Sony's adaptation of Dan Brown's 2003 novel, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, opens May 17 at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The tale of Opus Dei and the Vatican violently covering up Christianity's true origins has sparked an outcry from Catholic groups that say the book distorts the religion.
"We haven't decided on a response to the letter and decline to comment on the issue at the moment," Sony spokesman Koji Kurata in Tokyo said.
In Vatican City, meanwhile, a Vatican official on Friday branded the book and upcoming film as just more examples of Jesus being sold out by a wave of what he called "pseudo-historic" art. During a sermon in St. Peter's Basilica, Father Raniero Cantalamessa said that people today were fascinated by "every new theory according to which he [Christ] was not crucified and did not die ... but ran off with Mary Magdalene."