Da Vinci fundraiser defended


SELLING more than 50 million copies worldwide, author Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been a runaway success.

The thriller alternates between fact and fiction. The premise of the book ? that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children, their bloodline surviving through to modern times, with the Catholic church closely gurading the secret ? has created scandal throughout the Catholic world.

But while the book has caused consternation from Catholics the world over, including Pope Benedict, St Mary's Parish priest Father Rex Hackett isn't bothered by the controversy.

St Mary's Primary School, with permission from Fr Hackett, will hold a fundraiser at the opening of The Da Vinci Code at the Saraton Theatre tonight.

Fr Hackett, who has read the book and 'certainly' would be going to see the movie, said he saw no problems with the school raising funds from the film.

"We did it because part of the money is going to raise money for air-conditioning at St Mary's Primary School," he said.

Fr Hackett said the parish had been bombarded with calls since the fundraiser was announced with many people, none of them parishioners, unhappy with the decision.

"Some people see it as blasphemous, but we'd prefer to educate people than boycott it," he said.

"I expected those reactions, but I'd prefer to reason with people."

People have also complained to the Bishop of Lismore, Geoff Jarrett.

"He hasn't responded to me at all," Fr Hackett said.

"There's no emails or faxes from him and I saw him yesterday and he didn't mention it at all.

"Had he rung up and said you can't do it there was no way I could have."

Bishop Jarrett has labelled the novel 'a load of tosh'.

Earlier this week he admitted the novel was 'a page-turner', but has urged people to treat it as fiction.

Fr Hackett agrees.

"For those intending to see the movie, enjoy it, but don't believe any of it," he said.

"It's a good story ? it's a fairytale based on fact."

Fr Hackett, who distributed a flyer to congregations at weekend church services, said he encouraged all people to see the movie.

"I'm hoping people will enjoy the movie so it is a springboard for discussing what is our true understanding of the story of Jesus," he said.

"I'm hoping people turn up in droves so we get more money for the school."

Tickets cost $12 and are available from the school or the Saraton.

The movie screens at 6.30pm.

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