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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Exorcist praises new movie 'The Rite'..

..for showing power of faith
By Marianne Medlin

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.- Father Gary Thomas, whose real life experience as an exorcist-in-training is chronicled in the highly anticipated movie "The Rite," praised the film for its positive portrayal of the Church and for its witness to the power of faith.

Set to hit screens on Jan 28., "The Rite" follows skeptical seminary student Michael Kovak (O'Donoghue), who is sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts. Anthony Hopkins plays a character by the name of Fr. Lucas – an Italian priest and veteran exorcist – who befriends Michael and helps open his eyes to reality of demon possession and the need for rite in the modern world.

The movie is based off of journalist Matt Baglio's 2009 book, "The Rite: The making of a modern exorcist." Baglio befriended Fr. Gary Thomas while in Rome and chronicled the priest's studies at the Pontifical North American College and his eventual apprenticeship with a local exorcist.

In an interview with CNA on Jan. 19, Fr. Thomas – who currently serves as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga, California –  explained that he served as a consultant for the film,  particularly the scenes featuring exorcisms.

For a week in June last year, he said he was on the movie set working with cast members and producers. The priest added that "to their credit," the directors and producers wanted the exorcism scenes to be as accurate at possible.

"The environment of that movie set was very reverential towards the Church," Fr. Thomas said. "The producer and the director and the cast whom I worked with at the time were very open."

Fr. Thomas said he recently saw a screening of the film alongside Anthony Hopkins at a New Line Cinema studio in Los Angeles. In his words, the movie has a "loose" basis in Baglio's book.

One discrepancy Fr. Thomas pointed out was that he went to Rome as a 50-year-old seasoned priest with a desire to learn more about the rite of exorcism  – hardly a cynical seminarian in the midst of a faith crisis.

Despite the differences, however, he called the film "very good."

"The human side of the priesthood is very well developed," he said, adding that the portrayal of "the institutional Church comes out very positively."

Fr. Thomas said that given the reality of the subject matter, the experience was very powerful and even frightening for many involved in the movie.

He said that Hopkins, a professed Christian, and O'Donoghue – a practicing Catholic who serves as a lector at his parish in Dublin – "very much" believe in the existence of evil and feared possible demonic attacks as a result of working on the film.

"The producer and the two key actors all asked me privately if they could be attacked by doing this movie," he said. "I said, I can't absolutely say yes or no – which lead me to say  'possibly.'" 

"I do think that a person can get attacked, and I don't know if they did but they were afraid," he said. "I just tried to reassure them."

Fr. Thomas also said that the intensely eery trailers for the film are "deceptive" in the sense that they make it look like a "horror movie," which he says is inaccurate.

"There's some very riveting scenes – I wouldn't say they're scary, but they're a little startling."

Ultimately, however, "this is a movie about faith," said Fr. Thomas. "People are going to be very surprised."

Subscriber comments:
Published by: LuEleison
Canada 01/24/2011 01:08 PM EST
I've read a lot about the Roman Rite, including Baglio's book. Hostage to the Devil by Martin Malachi; Evil and the Justice of God by NT Wright; renowned psychologist Scott Peck's People of the Lie. I thought the worst part of The Exorcist was the special effects. The creeps for me came from the minds of the priests. I hope this film does the phenomenon justice. Sounds like it does, it's a mystery.
Published by: Liliane
Canada 01/24/2011 10:37 AM EST
Good! We need to be very surprised. Movies have been so predictable recently I almost fell asleep in theatres. Going to see this one.
Published by: Kerry
Chicago 01/23/2011 04:56 PM EST
Really looking forward to viewing this true to life experance.Perhaps it may open the minds of those who dabble innecently with the occult.Teach those who tread on thin ice to stay off.Evil belongs deep down from where it came from,hell.Lets all pray for goodness and Gods blessings.
Published by: Bklyn GrGram
New Jersey/USA 01/23/2011 07:23 AM EST
I cannot wait to see the movie. People forget that the devil is "alive and well" and is surely happy with the immorality that is rampant in media and in the world today. I hope it opens up the eyes of many people and leads them to a deeper faith in God.
Published by: Jerry
Philippines 01/23/2011 06:07 AM EST
Christians from every denomination should see this movie " The Rite " because the directors and producers want it to be as accurate as possible and that evil does exist even in this modern age of the 21st century.
Published by: Leticia Velasquez
Canterbury 01/22/2011 09:04 PM EST
Such an interesting and important book, I am eagerly anticipating the film, and my chance to review it.
Published by: robert matzinger
taylor/michigan/usa 01/22/2011 07:10 PM EST
I saw an interview on TV a couple of days ago, where Anthony Hopkins was being interviewed. When Hopkins was asked if he "believed in God," he said, "I don't know." He took no personal stand for God or any religion.
Published by: Horace
Gulfport, MS, U.S.A. 01/22/2011 02:39 PM EST
I'm interested in learning where the Rite for conductinig a Roman Catholic Exorcism came from? I know there are various brief references to Jesus and some of his Disciples casting out demons, but the ritual and prayers used must have had their origins somewhere, sometime. Is it something that was developed by some Religious Order of Monks, perhaps, and if so, who were they? I know that the Benedictine Order is quite conversant on the subject, but they do not, as far as I know, claim credit for having developed the Rite. I'd appreciate an explanation and history of the Rite, if anyone feels conversant enough to respond. Thanks so much!
Published by: Matthew Smaldone
Denver, CO USA 01/22/2011 12:42 PM EST
Thank you for all your efforts. I just discovered CNA and EWTNNews. It is great to find journalists bringing Catholic issues to mass media, and bringing other issues to Catholic media. Ciao
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