:Most of the scenes are contained in the Gospels, but some are not: meeting his mother, Veronica wiping his face, and the falls with the cross.

Is Mel Gibson really Catholic?
Mel Gibson considers himself Catholic, but his relationship with the official Catholic Church is strained. Gibson has built his own traditionalist Catholic chapel near his home; a pre-Vatican II Latin Mass is said there.
In a February 2004 interview with Diane Sawyer, Gibson said "I'm just Roman Catholic, the way they were up until the mid '60s."In an online chat with Beliefnet, LA Cardinal Roger Mahony said: "I know nothing about the Church in Malibu. It is certainly not in communion with the Universal Catholic Church nor the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I have never met Mr. Gibson, and he does not participate in any parish of this Archdiocese. He, apparently, has chosen to live apart from the communion of the Catholic Church. I pray for him."

Churches like Gibson's, which are not affiliated with any diocese, are usually considered schismatic. The Church's Code of Canon Law defines schism--separation from the Church--as "the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, is an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church and an adherent of the "sedevacantist" movement, so called from the Latin phrase meaning "empty seat"--their claim being that every pope since 1960 has been spurious. While Gibson is said to disagree with his father, the actor has been quoted often as waxing nostalgic for the Mass said in Latin and the doctrines as they were for almost 2,000 years.

Are there other historical sources describing Jesus or these events, in addition to the Bible?
Yes. Scholars describe these documents as "extra-biblical," meaning "outside the Bible."

Here are some examples of such documents, written at the time of the Bible, that mention Jesus:
  • Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?, a Jewish historian) mentions Jesus - Antiquities, Book 18, ch. 3, par. 3.
  • Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian) mentions "christus" who is Jesus - Annals
  • Pliny the Younger mentioned Christ in his 10th book, around 112 C.E.
  • The Talmud, a collection of discussions of the Mishnah--a review of Jewish law--by generations of scholars over a period of several centuries
  • Lucian (circa 120-after 180) mentions Jesus.

  • Who is Sister Anne Emmerich?
    Mel Gibson apparently relied on some of the writings of Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, an Augustinian nun who lived in Germany from 1774 to 1824. She is remembered for her mystical visions of Jesus' and Mary's lives, recorded in works like "The Dolorous Passion of OUr Lord Jesus Christ." Gibson drew from this work when crafting his movie.

    Emmerich is called "Venerable," a title given by the Catholic Church to holy men and women of "heroic virtue" who have not been beatified or canonized. Bedridden for years, Emmerich sewed clothes for the poor and attracted many followers who sought her advice and healing. Her supporters claim that she bore the stigmata--the wounds in the hands and feet that Christ suffered.

    Emmerich has been considered for sainthood. However, it is unclear whether all her writings were her own, according to Mary Francis Lester, editor at TAN Books and Publishers, which publishes "The Dolorous Passion." Emmerich's visions were transcribed by Clemens Brentano, a poet and literary figure who, many believe, extensively embellished what Emmerich told him. Because of the uncertainty, Emmerich's writings are not being included in the Vatican process by which potential saints' lives are researched.

    Is the film anti-Semitic?
    Opinions vary. Some Jewish (and Christian) leaders worry the movie will incite Christians to anger against Jews because they are portrayed as arranging to have Jesus crucified and egging on the authorities by shouting "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

    Others say the movie carefully portrays what actually happened: the anger of the Jewish authorities at Jesus' teachings, which led to an insurrection by the Jewish masses, which led to the Romans' decision to crucify him in order to keep the peace.

    Dennis Prager analyzes it this way: "When watching "The Passion," Jews and Christians are watching two entirely different films. For two hours, Christians watch their Savior tortured and killed. For the same two hours, Jews watch Jews arrange the killing and torture of the Christians' Savior."