The Vatican responds to the DaVinci Code

While Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been busy selling 25 million copies in 44 countries, the Vatican has been pretty quiet about it... until now. According to an article from the International Herald Tribune, officials at the Vatican, including one possible successor to the Pope, are now speaking out about the book.

There's an interesting difference in tactics, though, between the communications director for Opus Dei and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of The Vatican.

Whereas Opus Dei is taking the attitude that they are just dealing with a novel and there is no need to do anything more than say that, the Vatican appears to be changing approaches and is comparing this work of fiction to a work of fiction that manipulates the facts surrounding the Holocaust.

Now, call me a bit oversensitive here, but there are a few differences between these two, not the least of which is that we have strong documentary and photographic evidence of the Holocaust... whereas much of religious teaching is open for debate and interpretation. Even religious scholars of the same faith have disagreements on the historical facts pertaining to Jesus, much less His intent.

But, setting aside the questions of the Vatican's oppression of contrary thought in the past (such as banning books and the Inquisition), we are still left with the fact that there are (both in the fiction and non-fiction sections of the book world) revisionist history Holocaust-era novels that espouse such ideas that the number of Jews killed by the NAZIs was highly exaggerated (some claiming as much as by a factor of 5 or 10) and that the gas chambers that have been found are actually not gas chambers, but are indeed delousing chambers.

Having been to Dachau, I have no doubt what happened there and that it was completely intentional. I've seen the gas chambers, the crematoria, and the roles of the exterminated, all under the sickly-manipulative banner of "Arbeit Macht Frei" on the gates.

However, I don't think the Vatican is out to pick fights here, my theory of why they are taking issue with Mr. Brown right now is that with the failing health of the current Pope, the Vatican wants a rallying cry to bring the Church together during the transition from this Pope to the next, and this could be part of a plan to raise awareness and stomp out division.

Ironically, creating a common enemy is a tried-and-true method of galvanizing a group of people.