ABC special on Jesus sure to foster controversy

— ABC News correspondent Elizabeth Vargas concedes her network is stepping into a theological minefield with its one-hour exploration of whether Jesus Christ had a wife.

The ABC News special "Jesus, Mary and DaVinci," is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Monday

"You can't talk about this subject without intriguing people or offending people," Vargas said Thursday. "We're trying to do it as respectfully as we can."

ABC screened the special Thursday for some reporters and religious leaders. The program is based on the best-selling novel "The DaVinci Code," which claims to be partly grounded on historical fact.

The book asserts that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife -- not a prostitute, as in some teachings -- and that she fled Jerusalem with his child after his crucifixion.

The story was kept alive for centuries by a secret society that included the painter Leonardo DaVinci, who supposedly inserted clues about it in his art, the book claimed.

The ABC special outlines the theories and speaks to several theologians who either discount the story or assert that it is possible.

The show unravels like a mystery perpetuated by secondhand gossip. Vargas said ABC found no proof that Jesus had a wife, but couldn't completely discount it, either.

Vargas, who was raised a Roman Catholic, said her own parents said to her, "Oh, my goodness, what are you doing?" when they found out she was working on the story.


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