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    Ron Howard Illuminates Angels & Demons: "Catholics Will Enjoy"

    Ron Howard, Ayelet Zurer, Tom Hanks, Angels & Demons Columbia Pictures, Zade Rosenthal/Columbia Pictures

    Apparently Ron Howard has not forgotten what happened the last time he adapted a work of fiction for the big screen.

    Looking to nip the inevitable religion controversy in the bud, the director of the upcoming Angels & Demons is already defending the Da Vinci Code sequel's raison d'être: Hollywood thriller, not anti-Catholic treatise.

    "Let me be clear: Neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic," Howard blogged on the Huffington Post today. "And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome.

    "After all, in Angels & Demons, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?"

    Tom Hanks reprises his role as Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology, in the cinematic sequel (Dan Brown authored A&D before Da Vinci) due in theaters May 15.

    Though critics made plenty of cracks at the The Da Vinci Code's expense, a sequel was a given after the 2006 thriller took in $758 million-plus worldwide—despite the Vatican's boycott recommendation and fervent protests from Catholic groups around the globe.

    Vatican officials are wary of declaring war on Angels & Demons, but some have been quoted as saying that the Catholic Church "cannot approve" of its subject matter.

    "William Donohue of the Catholic League is on a mission," Howard wrote. "Whether it is a 'mission from God,' as the Blues Brothers would say, only God knows, but the goal of his mission is clear: to paint me and the movie I directed, Angels & Demons, as anti-Catholic."

    Donohue has penned an informational pamphlet, "Angels & Demons: More Demonic Than Angelic," to steer the faithful away from Howard's popcorn flick.

    "I guess Mr. Donohue and I do have one thing in common: We both like to create fictional tales, as he has done with his silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda," Howard continued.

    The Oscar-winning filmmaker goes on to cite various ways in which he feels his latest movie gives Catholicism a perfectly fair shake.

    "I know faith is believing without seeing (and a boycott would be disbelieving without seeing)," Howard concluded. "But I don't expect William Donohue to have faith in me, so I encourage him to see Angels & Demons for himself. Then he will finally witness, and perhaps believe, that what I say is true."

    Meanwhile, for those who need a new dose of Dan Brown in their lives, the Da Vinci Code's literary sequel, The Lost Symbol, hits the shelves Sept. 15.

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