Exorcist films should teach how God always conquers evil, exorcist says

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By Carol Glatz

CITY (CNS) — Movies depicting exorcisms could be an important medium for
showing how God always triumphs over evil, but instead, they misrepresent the faith
and exaggerate human and satanic powers over God, a leading exorcist wrote in
the Vatican newspaper.

and cinema have accustomed people to recognizing “the presence and
extraordinary acts of demons in people’s lives and the battle that the church
faces against them,” wrote Father Francesco Bamonte, president of the
International Association of Exorcists, headquartered in Rome.

exorcisms in the world of fiction “could promote greater awareness”
about the Catholic faith, however, “the way in which evil, demonic
possession, the prayer of exorcism and liberation are presented is disappointing
and unacceptable,” he wrote in L’Osservatore Romano Jan. 8.

priests are entrusted by the church to help protect or liberate people from the
power of the devil, most movies hide or ignore “the marvelous, stupendous
presence and work of God” and the role of Mary in the battle against evil,
wrote the priest, who is a member of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of

exorcists witness through their own experience, the reality is that “the
demon, even if he doesn’t want to, is forced against his will to affirm the
truth of our Catholic faith,” he said. For example, he said, when holy
water or a holy relic is used in an exorcism, demons react — often violently
— as they are forced to submit to the power of God every single time.

listening to a prayer to the Virgin, (the demon) shows all of his hatred and
fear toward her, he is forced to confirm that Mary is the mother of God and
that she intercedes for humanity,” Father Bamonte wrote.

there are many inaccuracies about the faith in films, their most serious error
is presenting life as a battle between two equal principles or divinities:
light and darkness, good and evil, the priest said.

is not the god of evil against the God of the good, rather he is a being who God
created as good and who, with some angels — also created good by God — became
evil because they refused God and his kingdom with their free and final

and the spirits at his service, therefore, are not omnipotent beings, they
cannot perform miracles, they are not omnipresent, they cannot know our
thoughts or know the future.”

is it true, as some movies make it seem, that salvation comes from people who
have access to secret or superior knowledge, he said. Such portrayals not only
help drive people away from the church, they set the foundation for “a
class of superior beings.”

“who live with trusting abandon in God’s arms are stronger than the devil
and all of his minions — these truths do not emerge in the movies,” he

could have provided a good service to the church and the faith becomes the
usual and subtle attack of Satan against the foundations of the Catholic
Church,” the priest concluded.

Bamonte’s article appeared in the Vatican newspaper together with a film
critic’s look at how the exorcism genre was the most “prolific” in
the evolution of “B movie” horror flicks.

Friedkin’s 1973 movie “The Exorcist” is still today “one of the
most terrifying horror films ever created,” according to Emilio Ranzato,
author and frequent movie critic for L’Osservatore Romano.

Blair, the young actress who plays the 12-year-old possessed girl in the film,
“ends up being a kind of Shirley Temple debased by the era of Vietnam and
Watergate,” he wrote.

“no film in recent years has come close to reaching the same level”
achieved by Friedkin’s masterpiece, “fine commercial productions”
include “The Last Exorcism” by Daniel Stamm in 2010; “The
Conjuring” by James Wan in 2013 and “Deliver Us From Evil” by
Scott Derrickson in 2014, Ranzato wrote.

order to find good films on the subject of demonic possession,” he wrote,
it’s better to skip more commercial productions and instead look at
“art-house” films which are more at liberty to go beyond simplistic
storylines and “the generic battle of good against evil.”

film critic’s thumbs-up list includes: Brunello Rondi’s “The Demon”
(1963); Lucio Fulci’s “Don’t Torture a Duckling” (1972); Waris
Hussein’s “The Possession of Joel Delaney” (1972); “Requiem”
directed by Hans-Christian Schmid (2006); Derrickson’s “The Exorcism of
Emily Rose” (2005); and Andrzej Zulawski’s “Possession” (1981),
which is “a surrealist masterpiece, replete with cryptic but exciting
details, laden with meaning.”

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