Opus Dei thanks 'Da Vinci Code'


ROME -- Opus Dei, the ultraconservative Catholic group demonized in last year's hit film "The Da Vinci Code," is thankful to the U.S.-made blockbuster for helping to make organization better known.

The Italian media reported Sunday that Giuseppe Corigliano, the head of public information for Opus Dei in Italy, said that despite a negative characterization of the organization the film was more of a positive light for Opus Dei than a negative one. "We could denounce the film because it depicted one of our members as an assassin," Corigliano is quoted as saying. "Instead, we have only asked that at the end of the film there should be a phrase stating that it is only fiction. 'The Da Vinci Code' did not please us, but it at least drew the public's attention to our organization."

Corigliano made his comments while announcing plans for a big budget film on the life of Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, Opus Dei's founder, who was named a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

According to reports, producers Lux Vide have approached Antonio Banderas and Robert De Niro about playing starring roles in the film.

Opus Dei -- Latin for "God's Work" -- operates in some 60 countries and has some 85,000 members, who seek to incorporate religion into every day life.

Despite weak reviews, "The Da Vinci Code" was one of the most successful films in recent years, raking in more than $800 million in global boxoffice receipts.