Plan to show 'satanic' films at former Northern Ireland church is cheap stunt: priest
A priest has criticised Belfast Film Festival bosses over plans to show horror movies The Exorcist and The Omen at a landmark Catholic church.
Referring to the neck-spinning scene in The Exorcist, the festival's organisers announced plans to 'turn heads' of cinema lovers by screening the 1970s classics at the Holy Rosary Church on Ormeau Road in south Belfast.
The film festival website advert for the £10 per ticket showings reads: "What better place to experience this stone cold classic than in the surrounds of an old abandoned church?"
The Exorcist was dubbed "satanic" by Christians on its release in 1973. Fr Patrick McCafferty, parish priest for Corpus Christi Parish in west Belfast, described it as a "cheap stunt".
The high-profile priest said: "What is their motivation for showing those types of films in what was once a sacred building that will have such special memories of spiritual occasions for lots of people.
"I think the organisers should reconsider their decision to show the films there.
"Should they not be sensitive to the fact that many people in that area have fond associations and is sacred to the memories of many people that were baptised or married or buried there.
"It's a cheap stunt and they should look for somewhere more appropriate to screen it."
Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers called for the festival to cancel the horror film screenings, scheduled for August, and move to another venue.
He said: "It's really disappointing the film festival have chosen an old Catholic church to screen two films about the devil.
"Holy Rosary is a beautiful, beautiful church that I've been in, and there's no reason for it to be used for this event."
A spokesman for the festival defended their decision.
"Belfast Film Festival is well known for its site-specific special events," he said. "The locations chosen add an extra dimension to the screening, and we think the stone cold surroundings of an abandoned church will make for a suitably chilling viewing experience for The Exorcist."