A film poster for "Fifty Shades of Grey" is pictured at Regal Theater in Los Angeles.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cincinnati issued a warning to Christians about the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, ahead of its release over the weekend weekend.
"The story line is presented as a romance; however, the underlying theme is that bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism are normal and pleasurable," Archbishop Dennis Marion Schnurr posted on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's Facebook page.
The movie tells the story of a sexual relationship between a wealthy businessman and a college student and includes scenes that depict whipping and bondage.
"This movie is in direct contrast to the Christian message of God’s design for self-giving and self-sacrificing love, marriage and sexual intimacy," he continued. "The movie is a direct assault on Christian marriage and on the moral and spiritual strength of God’s people. We need to inform our people about the destructive message of this movie and to highlight the beauty of God’s design for loving relationships between a husband and wife in the bond of marriage."
His message was received with a mixture of supportive and scornful comments. "Thanks for volunteering to censor Hollywood films, Archbishop, please let me know if I can watch "The Borgias" on Netflix," one Facebook user remarked sarcastically.
Another responded with sincere gratitude for the statement: "I am so grateful that the Catholic Church continues to uphold high moral standards. Thank you, thank you!!! Please don't ever change and give in to the garbage that is going on in our society."
The film, based on a steamy novel by author E.L. James, hit big screens around the world on Friday, but fans in China and other countries will not be able to see the movie version in theaters even though the sex scenes have has been toned down for the big screen.
The film adaptation opened this week in 57 international markets, including France, where it was declared suitable for anyone 12 or older.
The distributor, Comcast Corp unit Universal Pictures, is not pursuing a theatrical release in China - the world's second-largest film market - according to a source with knowledge of the studio's plans who spoke on condition of anonymity. Sexually explicit films generally do not make it past Chinese government censors.
Three countries that often object to sexual content - Malaysia, Indonesia and Kenya - have banned "Fifty Shades" from theaters.sign up to our newsletter
Reuters contributed to this report