|Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M. , CUA president, appeared Feb. 26 on CNN's "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer to discuss a new documentary that claims that small caskets found in Jerusalem contained the remains of Jesus. Father O'Connell appeared on "The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look" as part of a panel, moderated by Ted Koppel, which aired on the Discovery Channel after the documentary March 4. He appeared on on "Anderson Cooper 360º" Feb. 26 and EWTN-TV March 2 to discuss the documentary. See his comments from "The Situation Room" in the transcript below.
CUA President Discusses Documentary on Alleged Jesus Burial Site
From: CNN's "The Situation Room" Date: Feb. 26, 2007 Host: Wolf Blitzer For more now on the documentary and the controversy surrounding all of these claims, we're joined by the Reverend David O'Connell. He's the president of the Catholic University of America here in Washington.
Thanks very much for coming in, Father.
REV. DAVID O'CONNELL, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: So what do you make of all of this?
O'CONNELL: Well, I don't make much of it. You know?
To me, it's the same old story. This great breaking news is about 27 years old. These -- this tomb, the ossuaries, were found in 1980, and it just strikes me as strange that in all of that time serious archaeologists and serious scientists haven't spoken much about them, probably because there's very little credibility to the claims. BLITZER: Because our Ben Wedeman was speaking to some Israeli archaeologists and other archaeologists in Jerusalem earlier in the day, and they were poo-pooing it as well, suggesting that they're not convinced that these allegations, these claims are authentic.
O'CONNELL: The statistics that they presented, the assertions that they made, giant leaps as far as I'm concerned.
BLITZER: The notion of Jesus being married and having a son, has that been around for a long time, that theory?
O'CONNELL: It's been around as long as the gospels have existed. And people point to different items of tradition and legend and myth, but there is no evidence of that in the scripture, no evidence whatsoever in the scriptural texts that we have.
BLITZER: And if that -- if somehow DNA or new science could prove that, what would that do, though, to the Christian faith, the pinnacle, the core beliefs that you have?
O'CONNELL: Well, I don't think that it would be a possibility, because, you know, people say, well, the bible is not literal, the bible is not historical. It's the best historical record that we have. And it's not the only historical record we have about the life of Jesus.
I just don't think it's a possibility that that kind of assertion could be proved true.
BLITZER: The fact these names were on these boxes that were found, and obviously similar names to Jesus and Mary and a potential son?
O'CONNELL: Ancient Semitic language is very, very hard to decipher. And some of the archaeologists are saying that the expression "Jesus" that has been referred to on the caskets may not actually be Jesus, it may be another name.
You know, there are 25, 30 different variations of the name Mary in the Hebrew language and the Semitic languages. So, to make an assertion like they're making is really quite outstanding.
BLITZER: Is there any proof that would convince you that this allegation were true?
O'CONNELL: For 2,000 years we believed that Jesus died, was buried, rose, ascended, and sits at the right hand of the father in heaven. Nothing would convince me otherwise.
BLITZER: And so what does this suggestion that this filmmaker has now come up with --- he's obviously putting it together in a new film, a documentary. People who are Catholic, Christians, what should they make of it? What should they do with it?
Should they watch it? Should they not watch it? Should they boycott it? I'm trying to get a sense of how potentially explosive this is.
O'CONNELL: You and I sat in this very room about a year ago and talked about "The Da Vinci Code," and I said then what I say now, it's a flight of fancy. If you want to watch it and try to be entertained by it, I do not see a problem with that. But to put belief in it, I would not give any credibility to the claims that they make.
BLITZER: And given his record with the Titanic, it's going to generate a lot of commotion. It already is.
O'CONNELL: Sure. Last night with the Oscars, this coming Sunday the show will premiere. It's good hype.
BLITZER: And that's it?
O'CONNELL: I think so.
BLITZER: Father David O'Connell of Catholic University, thanks very much for coming in.
O'CONNELL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Appreciate it.