Liane Bonin
December 18, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Mel Gibson got the ultimate thumbs-up this week. After seeing the ”Signs” star’s controversial movie about the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul II was not only moved but described the film as an accurate portrayal, according to the Vatican.

The 83-year-old pope, who watched the movie in his living quarters with personal secretary Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, reportedly said: ”It is as it was” in describing the accuracy of Gibson’s gory portrayal.

The positive papal response worked miracles in calming critics who feared the film was anti-Semitic. Although after seeing a rough cut of the film Anti-Defamation League director Rabbi Eugene Korn told EW: “Bigots will love this movie if it comes out as presently constituted,” the League has announced they will respect the pope’s verdict on the film.

”The pope has a record and history of sensitivity to the Jewish community and has a clear moral voice and understanding when it comes to anti-Semitism,” the group’s U.S. director, Abraham H. Foxman, explained to Reuters.

Now Gibson may be hoping the pope can pull some strings in Hollywood. A release date for the film, which Gibson paid for out of his own pocket, has not yet been set.

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