Reports POPE JOHN PAUL II has praised Mel Gibson's controversial movie THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST are "not true", says his secretary.

ARCHBISHOP STANISLAW DZIWISZ has spoken out to deny recent press reports the 83-year-old head of the Catholic church thinks the film, detailing the last days in Jesus Christ's life, "shows how it was" after being given a private screening.

He says, "That is not true. The Pope does not make judgements on art of this kind. He leaves that to others, to experts."

The controversial film is set to open in America on 25 February (04), Ash Wednesday in the Roman Catholic calendar.

20/01/2004 17:26