Real-life devil-bashers say their job is the “exact opposite” of the grisly priest-versus-Satan blood-puking battle portrayed in The Pope’s Exorcist.
They are worried the gore-fest could put off victims from using their services.
In the movie Crowe, 59, plays Father Gabriele Amorth – the Vatican’s real life No1 exorcist for 30 years – as he fights to cleanse a possessed young boy upon whose chest the devil has scratched: “God Is Not Here.”
The Gladiator star fights to drive out the demon in a series of spine-chilling scenes and in the process uncovers a centuries-old conspiracy “that the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden”.
But real exorcists say the horror flick goes over the top.
The International Association of Exorcists called the title pretentious and claimed its Da Vinci Code-style conspiratorial plot posed unacceptable doubt “to the public as to who the real enemy is, the devil or ecclesiastical power”.
Amorth, who died in 2016, carried out over 1,000 exorcisms and helped found the association – a pressure group within the Vatican.
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Though initially snubbed by John Paul II since 2014 it has enjoyed official approval of its activities.
After viewing the film’s trailer the association said: “The end result is to instil the conviction that exorcism is an abnormal, monstrous and frightening phenomenon, whose only protagonist is the devil whose violent reactions can be faced with great difficulty.
“This is the exact opposite of what occurs in the context of exorcism celebrated in the Catholic church in obedience to the directives imparted by it.”
No representative of the movie – which hit cinemas worldwide on Good Friday – has yet commented.
Exorcists say part of their role is to help devout believers with mental health woes who refuse to visit doctors.
Brit retired Rev Lisle Ryder, who carried out five exorcisms as head of the Deliverance Ministry in Worcester, has said: “Many people in distress come to the church for help because they have a religious frame of reference and are either put off from visiting a doctor because of the stigma of mental illness or because they don’t believe their problems have a scientific explanation.”
He said exorcism should only be used as “a last resort” and all his had “not followed the traditional rite.
“A simple blessing will usually suffice to comfort most people. Many clearly have a mental health problem.
“Our aim is to end or control their paranormal experience so they are more receptive to traditional treatment, although in many cases no follow-up is required,” he said in an interview before his retirement.
One case he was called to tackle concerned a woman who had suffered “years of domestic violence at the hands of her first husband”.
“It had all the signs of poltergeist activity, cold spots and the toilet flushing by itself,” he said.
This had happened during her first marriage but started again when she remarried. “Talking to her, it seemed that anxiety about the new relationship was the root of the problem.”
New Zealand-born Oscar-winner Crowe said he found a dead bird on his doorstep while filming the horror flick in Ireland but quickly dismissed it as a sign of real-life devilry.
“Being an old bushy I just sort of put two and two together and realised that there must be some creature around there who had noticed that we weren’t there and had proffered the dead bird as a welcome home gift,” he said.
“I think with a lot of these things it really depends on what you’re prepared to take in and whether or not you can remain objective.
“You see these things and understand these things and still stop yourself from sliding into the rabbit hole with that thought process.”