The Vatican has railed against The Da Vinci Code, branding the book and its upcoming film version as just more examples of the undermining of Christ by a wave of "pseudo-historic" art.
And the Pope and his followers at the traditional Good Friday Way of the Cross procession, heard lamentations in apparent reference to gay marriage, abortion and genetic manipulation.
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, whose official title is Preacher of the Papal Household, refererred to The Da Vinci Code in a sermon during a Passion of the Lord service in St Peter's Basilica.
In his sermon, Fr Cantalamessa made several scathing references to The Da Vinci Code, without specifically mentioning the name of the worldwide bestseller.
He said that people today were fascinated by "every new theory according to which he (Christ) was not crucified and did not die ... but ran off with Mary Magdalene".
The novel is an international murder mystery centred on attempts to uncover a secret about the life of Christ that a clandestine society has tried to protect for centuries.
The central tenet of the book is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children. Christians are taught that Jesus never married, was crucified and rose from the dead.
Fr Cantalamessa then turned his ire to the film version of The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks, which is due to be released next month.
"No one will be able to stop this wave of speculation, which will see a sharp increase with the imminent release of a certain film," he said.
Fr Cantalamessa several times dismissed "the Gospel of Judas", which claims that it was Christ himself who asked Judas to betray him. The Gospel of Judas received wide attention recently in media stories about the discovery of a 1700-year-old copy.
The so-called Gospel of Judas was already declared a heresy by the early Church about two centuries after Christ died.
The Passion of the Lord service was the first of two events in which the 78-year-old German Pope, approaching the first Easter of his reign, commemorated the crucifixion and death of Christ on Good Friday.
His predecessor John Paul was in his dying days for all of last year's Easter season and was only able to make brief appearances in the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
John Paul died on April 2, a week after Easter.
On Friday, the 78-year-old Pope led the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the ruins of Rome's ancient Colosseum commemorating Christ's passion and death. He heard meditations lamenting a "diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family,'' an apparent reference to gay marriage and abortion.
The 14 meditations, written by Italian Archbishop Angelo Comastri and read aloud to the crowd by actors, painted a picture of a bleak world threatened on all sides.
One of the meditations appeared to be a reference to homosexual marriages and moves to give legal status to unmarried couples.
"Surely God is deeply pained by the attack on the family,'' one of the meditations said. "Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family.''
The Pope, wearing a red cape over his white cassock, carried a wooden cross for part of the service around the Colosseum as tens of thousands of people held candles on the streets below.
Another meditation read by one of the actors appeared to be a criticism of genetic manipulation and cloning, lamenting a "move to re-invent mankind, to modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God ... a risky and dangerous venture.''
Yet another meditation said the world had lost its sense of sin.
"Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication,'' it said.
At the end of the procession, the Pope delivered brief, unprepared remarks.
"In the mirror of the cross we saw all of the sufferings of humanity today,'' he said. "We saw the suffering of children who are abandoned and abused, the threats against the family, the divisions of the world, the arrogance of the rich who do not share ... with those who suffer hunger and thirst,'' he said.
The Pope will say an Easter Eve mass on Saturday night and on Sunday deliver an "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message.
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