CNA REPORT: 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.
The movie, starring Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and newcomer Colin O’Donoghue, is loosely based on Fr. Thomas' experience traveling to Rome and studying under an Italian exorcist in 2005.
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 Broglio'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'Donohugh – 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.”
Seoul (AsiaNews) - Caritas South Korea has decided to launch a new international service, which aims to support the poor around the world, including those of North Korea. Caritas Korea international is the first global support agency of the Korean Bishops' Conference, and aims to create a new legal reality even under the government of South.
According to Bishop Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, president of Caritas Korea, the new agency " We will work with transparency and openness to avoid misunderstanding in financial affairs and be recognized by international governments." The new body was presented last January 18 in Seoul.
Bishop Ahn said the agency will work for poor people around the world to ensure them of the basic dignity a human being is entitled to, he said. “Though the Korean Church has raised donations by establishing the Foreign Aid Sunday in January, we need more,” he said.
The president of Caritas Korea also said the agency needs to overcome challenges in promoting its foreign donation campaigns among local Catholics especially in soliciting aid to help poor North Koreans.
To deal with that, Bishop Ahn appointed Maryknoll Father Gerard Hammond to head aid for North Korea in the new organization. The new program will be essential "to carry out a campaign of donations from the faithful especially for the poor of North Korea that they need us." Father Gerard Hammond was asked to form the new group. The missionary is known for his lengthy experience with the North Koreans, a people he knows firsthand.
This dramatic reality was experienced first-hand by Bishop Odon M. Razanakolona of Antananarivo during his last visit to the region, where he often met long lines of people who walked for miles just to draw some water from the small river. According to local missionaries, there are often cases where groups of people leave the most remote and drought devastated areas and head for the city of Tolagnaro, because for them “it is better to die there of hunger than thirst at home.” The situation is further worsened by the ancestral traditions and still very popular superstitions: for example, polygamy and forced marriages at an early age are very common. Or, according to an ethnic tradition of the Tandroy, which dominates the district of Androy, when a head of the family dies, all the cattle are killed and the houses are burned down, forcing the other members of the families to start over from nothing.
In summary, according to the Bishop, the faith planted by the Lazarus missionaries, the first evangelisers in the region, has developed over the last 55 years with the creation of the diocese, bringing its fruits and enlivening the faith of this simple people. The diocesan Catholic radio network also carries its function of communication and evangelisation.
A Brigidine sister who runs an asylum seeker project is taking on the Commonwealth Government over the detention of child asylum seekers, reports The Age.Sister Brigid this week sought the release of four Afghan youths at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre at Broadmeadows, Victoria, pending the outcome of a challenge to their detention.
Her application was rejected by the High Court, but the substantial case is still to be heard. The four arrived on Christmas Island last February and were transferred to Broadmeadows in March.
Litigation is not something she is "terribly comfortable with", she says, but she is prepared to undertake it if that's what it takes to "achieve good for these young people".
What troubled her most about the court's decision was the fact that the government accepted that the boys had suffered significant mental harm in detention over the last 11 months, and would continue to suffer, yet insisted their detention was legal.
What compounded the disappointment is the fact that their incarceration is at odds with the stated intention to detain children as a last resort and move them out of detention and into community accommodation as quickly as possible.
Until the immigration minister Chris Bowen decides otherwise - or their applications for refugee status are accepted - the four will remain in what has the appearance of a home for around 130 lost boys, but is for them very much a prison.
The aspect of detention of children Sister Brigid finds most disturbing is the lack of meaningful activities and challenges.
''In a place like this, there is no room for independent decisions and the more compliant they are, the better they are seen to be. It's as though everything is on hold for them. They see that in terms of freedom and that is true, but I see it also in their overall development."
''When they're telling you they're sad and depressed, at first you think they're sad and depressed like a lot of other kids ... . Then you find out they have self-harmed or maybe tried to commit suicide and you realise this is at a different level.'
|Mark 3: 20 - 21|
|20||Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.|
|21||And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, "He is beside himself."|