Avvenire, the Vatican's official newspaper, quotes several officials as saying the Catholic Church "cannot approve" of the summer release of Howard's Angels & Demons, in which Hanks reprises his role as symbology professor Robert Langdon in the adaptation of Dan Brown's pre-Da Vinci Code conspiracy thriller.
The statement has ramped up speculation the Vatican will urge Catholics to avoid the movie due to supposedly sacrilegious plot points. Angels & Demons finds Langdon attempting to stop the murder of pope candidates while keeping the secret socieiy of the Illuminati from detonating an antimatter bomb in the heart of Vatican City.
During filming, the chuch turned down numerous requests to allow Howard to shoot scenes in its historic squares.
But at least one church official, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis is cautioning against the call for another boycott, telling Turin's daily La Strampa that such action could have a "boomerang" effect, generating headlines that draw even more moviegoers to the theater.
The last time the Vatican groused about a Howard-Hanks take on a Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code grossed $760 million worldwide at the box office.
The Vatican press office has declined to comment on the remarks. Universal is set to unleash Angels & Demons worldwide on May 15.