EW Staff
June 17, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

(FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS) — Rome’s diocese said Monday it would not permit the makers of Angels & Demons, the Da Vinci Code prequel based on Dan Brown’s earlier novel, to film inside two churches in the Italian capital. ”It’s a film that treats religious issues in a way that contrasts with common religious sentiment,” diocese spokesman Monsignor Marco Fibbi told the Associated Press. ”We would be helping them create a work that might well be beautiful but that does not conform to our views.” Fibbi noted that controversy over the 2005 film version of The Da Vinci Code, which many Catholics found sacrilegious, influenced the decision; many of the same creators, including director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks, are working on the new film as well. Like the earlier movie, Angels also features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (played again by Hanks) investigating a secret plot that involves top Church officials.

The diocese had actually denied permission to film in the two churches — Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria, two architectural gems that contain art and design work by such Renaissance masters as Caravaggio, Bernini, and Raphael — back in 2007, but the ban didn’t become an issue until now because the filming, currently underway in Rome, was delayed by last winter’s writers’ strike. While the producers must now scramble to finish the movie in time for its projected May 2009 release date, Fibbi said the ban will not prevent the filmmakers from shooting the exteriors of the churches. (AP via CNN)

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