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Gibson: I Was 'Spiritually Bankrupt'


CBN.comMel Gibson says his controversial film The Passion of the Christ has become a strong force in his life after years of living as a "monster" and "spiritually bankrupt" in the thralls of success.

The producer and director spoke with conservative Catholic columnist Peggy Noonan in an interview to be published in the March issue of Reader's Digest.

Amid accusations of anti-Semitism against him and his father, Noonan asked Gibson to state on the record whether he believed the Holocaust happened, the New York Post reported.

"I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms," he said. "The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in France. Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine, several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933. During the last century, 20 million people died in the Soviet Union."

Gibson's father has been accused of questioning the attempted extermination of all Jews by Hitler.

The actor said of his father: "My dad taught me my faith, and I believe what he taught me. The man never lied to me in his life."

Gibson admitted, according to the Post, his spiritual life is "nowhere complete yet. I'm still so full of flaws."

In the interview, the New York paper said, he spoke of his passion for the new film, the gospel and what he wants to do next "something light and funny, and nobody'll be angry at me!"

Noonan asked him: "Give me the headline you want to see on the biggest paper in America the day after The Passion opens." G

ibson: "War Ends."

Big buzz

Meanwhile, Jewish leaders continue to lambaste the film as a dangerous slur that could ruin interfaith relations for decades.

Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who posed as a pastor to see a private screening, said Gibson "didn't miss any chance to malign Jews."

But already, church groups are snapping up tickets in unprecedented numbers and planning private showings.

"This is really the highest demand we have seen this far in advance for group sales," Dick Westerling of Regal Entertainment, a major chain, told the New York Daily News.

The New York-based Catholic League bought 1,200 tickets at $9.75 apiece and will make them available to members for $5.

"We could probably sell 10,000 of these tickets," Catholic League President William Donohue told the Daily News. "The reason I'm subsidizing it is to make a point it's important to see this movie. And it's to drive Mel's critics crazy."

Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., where Gibson hosted the first large-scale screening for pastors in early January, has purchased 18,000 tickets at seven theaters for the first two days the film is out, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The Evangelical Free Church of Naperville, Ill., near Chicago, which has bought more than 1,000 tickets, already has been showing a trailer for "The Passion" at services, the Chicago paper said. The church plans to host a discussion with biblical scholars Feb. 29 and a six-week series of small-group studies about the film beginning in March, said Rick Pierson, pastor of spiritual life transformation.

Pierson told the Sun-Times church leaders are encouraging members to buy tickets for friends as well as themselves.

"In the kind of world we live in today, people need to come to grips with the reality of who [Jesus] is and why he did offer his life for them as individuals," he said.

At Wheaton Bible Church in suburban Chicago two members have offered to buy out two screenings of The Passion at a local theater.

John Mitchell, the church's pastor of evangelism, said: "We're getting involved in this way because we believe that Mel Gibson's movie will cause people to ask the most important question of life, which is, 'What was Jesus doing on that cross?'"

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Used with permission, WorldNetDaily. Learn more about WorldNetDaily at their Web site,

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