Bishops New Web Site

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took aim at "The Da Vinci Code" on Friday, launching a Web site that disputes central points of the best-selling novel.

The site,

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denies one point on which the novel turns, saying the New Testament "does not offer any support for speculation about Jesus' being married or having a child."

The novel by Dan Brown centers on the idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, they had children who survived and married into a line of French kings, that the lineage continues today and a secret society based in France aims to restore the lineage to the thrones of Europe.

The bishops' group said in a statement that the Web site "presents authentic Catholic teaching about Jesus and the origins of Christianity and corrects misinformation that appears in current popular media."

The site disavows the book's notion that the Leonardo Da Vinci work "The Last Supper" shows Mary Magdalene bending toward Jesus.

"What this novel does to Leonardo's Last Supper, it does to Christianity as such," according to the site's introduction. "It asks people to consider equivalent to the mainstream Christian tradition quite a few odd claims.

"Some are merely distortions of hypotheses advanced by serious scholars who do serious research. Others, however, are inaccurate or false."

In a section on the art mentioned in the novel, an art historian wrote: "Along with trashing Christianity, Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' is a veritable museum of errors where Renaissance art is concerned."

A copyright trial is currently under way in a London court based on accusations that Brown borrowed research from the work of two historians to write his book without acknowledgment.

A paperback edition of the novel is due out this month, with a run of

5 million copies, and a major motion picture adaptation starring Tom Hanks is due for release in May.

Reuters/VNU Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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