"The Passion" Makes Impact at Easter

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SYDNEY, Australia, APRIL 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Church leaders say that "The Passion of the Christ" is having a big impact on congregations.



In his Good Friday service, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney said the film had focused attention on the Christian understanding of Easter more effectively than any event for years, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In Canberra today, more than 1,000 worshippers packed St. Christopher's Cathedral. Archbishop Francis Carroll directly credited the Mel Gibson film for the increased interest in religion this Easter, saying it helped remind people of the story of the Resurrection.

Meanwhile, in Zagreb, Croatia, "The Passion" set a record during its recent opening weekend as the republic's most-watched movie, a film distribution company said.

More than 84,000 moviegoers viewed the film in this republic of 4.5 million. The previous record was held by "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,'' seen by some 77,000 people in its opening weekend, the Blitz film distributing company said, according to the Associated Press.

In the United States, Easter holiday moviegoers returned "The Passion" to the top spot at the North American box office after a three-week absence, Reuters reported.

According to studio estimates issued today, "The Passion" earned $17.1 million for the three days beginning on Friday, taking its seven-week net to $354.9 million.