Mel Practicing What's Been Preached

03/07/2003 at 11:00 AM EST

When it comes to practicing Catholicism, Mel Gibson reportedly believes the old ways are best.

An article to be published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine -- which has already generated controversy -- reports that the "Lethal Weapon" star, 47, is a follower of traditional Catholicism with its Latin Mass.

As such, says the article, he has rejected the radical changes made in the 1960s by Vatican II, helped finance construction of a new traditionalist church near Malibu and is completing a self-financed film about Christ that he is shooting in two dead languages -- Aramaic and Latin.

He also possibly maintains some opinions that will probably rankle those in the movie industry and elsewhere.

Gibson's film, which he is directing in Italy, is called "The Passion." Gary Giuffre, a traditionalist Catholic and a friend of Gibson's, tells The Times article's author, Christopher Noxon, that the movie will graphically portray the intense suffering of Christ during the last 12 hours of his life, "perhaps as no film has done before."

Noxon also said the film will lay the blame for the death of Christ where it belongs -- a reference that some traditionalists believe points a finger at the Jewish authorities who presided over his trial, the article states.

A spokesman for Gibson had no comment, telling Reuters that he had not seen the article.

In January, reports the news service, Gibson told FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly that Noxon was doing a "hit piece" on him and harassing his father, Hutton Gibson, an opponent of the Vatican for 30 years. (One of Hutton Gibson's books is titled, "Is the Pope Catholic?")

Speaking to Noxon, the elder Gibson is quoted as saying that Vatican II was "a Masonic plot backed by the Jews."

Speaking to O'Reilly, Mel Gibson was asked whether his take on the crucifixion might particularly upset Jews. He said, "It may. It's not meant to. I think it's meant to just tell the truth."

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