Gary Susman
March 16, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Pope John Paul II’s supposed endorsement of ”The Passion of the Christ” may be in dispute, but he apparently gave the movie’s star a thumbs-up review. Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus in the film, met with the Pope in Rome on Monday, a Vatican spokesman told the Associated Press. The 83-year-old pontiff then blessed the devout Catholic actor, who brought his wife Kerri and her parents to the audience with the Pope, the BBC reports. According to Reuters, Caviezel said on Tuesday that he was moved by the meeting but would not say what he and the Pope talked about.

Back in December, ”Passion” producer Steve McEveety and assistant director Jan Michelini told the Wall Street Journal that the Pope had screened the movie and had praised its fidelity to the Gospels, saying: ”It is as it was.” They said the endorsement had been relayed to them by the Pope’s closest confidant, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, but a month later, the Archbishop told the Catholic News Service: ”The Holy Father told no one his opinion of this film.” He added that the Pope ”does not make judgments on art of this kind; he leaves that to others, to experts.” We’re guessing, then, that Caviezel did not learn what the Pope thought of his work in ”High Crimes” or ”Angel Eyes.”

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