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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
China Church seeks film boycott
Chinese models in Da Vinci Code t-shirts in Beijing
The Da Vinci Code is being shown in more than 30 Chinese cinemas
China's state-backed Roman Catholic Church is urging its members to boycott controversial Hollywood blockbuster The Da Vinci Code.

The film was immoral and offensive to Christians, the deputy leader of the Church said.

It was screened in Beijing hours before the official world premiere in Cannes.

Analysts say that despite being state-sanctioned, China's official Catholic Church has a certain degree of autonomy on non-political issues.

The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association exists alongside an underground Church which remains loyal to the Vatican.

China and the Vatican have not had diplomatic relations since 1951 and are currently sparring over the appointment of three bishops to the official Church without Rome's approval.

The film - based on the book by Dan Brown - revolves around the theory that Jesus married his follower Mary Magdalene and that their descendants survive today.

Patriotic Catholic Association Vice-President Liu Bainian told Xinhua news agency the film had "many details that go against the Catholic teachings or are even insulting".

The blockbuster has caused outrage among many Christian organisations as well as senior Vatican officials.

The authorities in the Philippines capital Manila have banned the screening of the film.

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