MP Gerald Kaufmann has strongly criticised The Passion of the Christ:
On ITV1's GMTV Sunday Programme, he slated the film'sgratuitous violence, ugliness, wallowing in blood and, it has to be said, crude anti-Semitism...
...The Jews depicted are depicted as almost caricature Jews who demand (Christ's) blood,said Mr Kaufman, the chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee.
I am not accusing him (Gibson) of being a deliberate and overt anti-Semite but there is no doubt that the message of the film is seriously, damagingly anti-Semitic,he said.
People who do not know the story will see it as the Jews wanting to murder this saintly man while the Roman ruler of the country didn't want to do it but was forced into by their pressure.
But Roman Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor defended the film, pointing out that even though he hadn't actually seen it, it wasn't anti-semitic:
I have not seen it, the film, but everyone I have met who has seen it has been profoundly moved,he said.
There were people who said it was anti-Semitic. I don't think from what I hear that it is in any way anti-Semitic. I think they have been very careful not to in any way induce anti-Semitism.
MP slates Gibson's Christ movie - BBC News, 14th March 2004.