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Vatican reporter calls for boycott of Moretti pope film

'Habemus Papam' ranks number one at the box office

18 April, 18:16
Vatican reporter calls for boycott of Moretti pope film (ANSA) - Milan, April 18 - A Vatican reporter for the Italian news agency AGI, Salvatore Izzo, called for a boycott of the box-office hit and Cannes Palme D'Or contender 'Habemus Papam', the latest film directed by top filmmaker Nanni Moretti.

The Catholic reporter's appeal appeared in the Italian bishops' newspaper Avvenire over the weekend as well as on the blog 'Friends of Pope Ratzinger' (Benedict XVI).

"You don't touch the Pope: he is the Christ's vicar, the rock upon which Jesus founded his church," wrote Izzo in an open letter. (For this reason) "let's make it fail at the box office".

Izzo also condemned the absence of outcry from the Catholic Church.

"Let's not trust the Catholic critics, even if they are priests, who absolve (Moretti) with a very curious justification: 'Moretti could have been even worse'," wrote Izzo.

He concluded, "We do not need 'Habemus Papam'".

The much-anticipated comedy about a newly elected pope who has trouble adjusting to his role shot to number one in box office sales after opening in Italian theaters Friday.

It garnered 227,132 euros in 380 theaters over its debut weekend, compared to 218,000 euros for the second best, the cartoon feature "Rio".

"I wanted to confront the fragility and inadequacy of this cardinal who is selected as pontiff, but within a comedy," Moretti told reporters at a presentation of the film in Rome on Thursday.

The film stars Michel Piccoli as a cardinal who, after being elected pope, is plagued by panic attacks and profound psychological crisis that lead him declare his refusal to be pope from his apartment overlooking Saint Peter's Square.

'Habemus Papam' will be among 19 contestants for the Palme D'Or at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 11-12.

Moretti won the Palme d'Or in 2001 for 'The Son's Room' and Cannes' Best Director in 1994 for 'Caro Diario'.

'Habemus Papam' echoes to some degree Joseph Ratzinger's actual initial reaction to being elected pope after the death of Pope John Paul II.

"The fact of finding myself suddenly in from of this immense task was for me, as everyone knows, a real shock. The responsibility was, in fact, enormous," he said in one of many interviews with German journalist Peter Seewald in a book called 'Luce del Mondo', published last November in Italy.

The pontiff recalls in the book that he even considered resigning.