BY NICK PISA IN ROME
CATHOLIC officials have refused to allow filming in two churches featured in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons the predecessor to his controversial bestseller The Da Vinci Code.
Camera crews have been in Rome for two weeks for filming on location along with Hollywood star Tom Hanks, who played Professor Robert Langdon in 2006 movie The Da Vinci Code.
Director Ron Howard, who also made The Da Vinci Code, had wanted to follow the plot of Angels and Demons and film in the churches of Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria.
But the Diocese of Rome refused permission claiming the film was "nothing but fantasy" the same accusation it had made against The Da Vinci Code.
The Vatican was so incensed by The Da Vinci Code that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State, urged people not to read it and said it was a "sackful of lies".
He said the book which said Jesus married St Mary Magdalene and had a child with her was an "insult to the Christian faith" and was "shameful and unfounded".
The snub is seen as a direct attack on the makers of both films. Fr Marco Fibbi, spokesman for the Rome dioceses, said: "We regularly allow film-makers to use our churches for productions.
"We do so especially to those whose films have a compatibility with religious sentiment but not to those who wish to film fantasy or damage common religious sentiment as did The Da Vinci Code."
The refusal has meant that filming will have to move south to Caserta and take place at the city's Royal Palace, a 250-year-old complex which was also used in Star Wars and Mission Impossible.
In Angels and Demons, which is due out next year, Hanks again takes on a mystery society, the Illuminati, as they murder four cardinals during a Conclave to elect a new Pope.