Date: 2nd July 2003

'Holy Ghost' guided me says Mel

Mel Gibson believes he was guided by the Holy Ghost while making his controversial new film about the life of Jesus Christ.

The actor, who is a devout Catholic, said the force was so strong that Muslims and agnostics who worked on the set of The Passion converted to Christianity.

"I really feel my career was leading me to make this," he said.

"The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic. I hope the film has the power to evangelise."

The 15 million production, which Gibson directs, stars James Caviezel as Christ during the last 12 hours of his life and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene.

It was shot entirely in the Aramaic language of the time and includes a brutal depiction of the Crucifixion.

Some Jewish groups in the United States have criticised it for its violence and alleged anti-Semitism.

Religious scholars who have read the script claim that it leans too heavily on an 18th-century book of Catholic mysticism that paints Jews in a harsh light.

Gibson, 47, said: "Anti-Semitism is not only contrary to my personal beliefs, it is also contrary to the core message of my movie."

Source: Press Release