The bad Guy and as Sister says he can go to hell.
When The Demons Strike Back: Experience Of An Exorcist After An Exorcism
By Fr. Tom Euteneuer
I have been an exorcist for three years, and I know all too well that it always costs something to enter onto the devils territory and wrench a soul out of his grip, but I have never experienced a demonic retaliation like the one I am about to recount. The only reason I write this true story is to encourage those who read this to remain vigilant, faithful and confident that Christ and His angels have all-surpassing power over demons. The demons may make us suffer temporarily, but they are no match for the power of Christs Love and the vigilance of these holy spirits who never cease to come to our aid in time of need.
Several days after performing a solemn exorcism which lasted nine full hours and was a tough piece of spiritual warfare, I was attacked unawares. I guess I had let my guard down after the exorcism was over, and I was directing my attention to other matters at hand. On this particular morning I was to have a meeting with my bishop. When the alarm clock woke me at 7 immediately, without warning, collapsing at the foot of my bed, I felt a wave of nausea flow over me. I just sat there on the floor sweating and thinking I felt so bad that I was going to throw up and be sick the rest of the day and therefore miss my long-awaited meeting with the bishop. Hoping that the nausea would go away, I sat still as a lamb, but I just got more nauseous as the minutes passed. I then staggered up into the bed again knocking hard against the dresser thinking that if I actually lay back down the nausea would go away.
The two young dogs in the house where I was staying heard the noise and barked, and the younger of the two immediately rushed into the room and got half on the bed licking my face as if he knew something was really wrong. Animals have a good sense of when people are hurting dont they?! They are Gods little angels and mans best friend in every way.
As I lay there getting sicker and sicker I thought I was going through another violent bout of food poisoning like I had experienced earlier in the year, but this nausea seemed of another character. I could not identify just what was happening to me, but I kept feeling worse. No more than five minutes had gone by since I woke up, and I was in dire straits and still sweating profusely.
The nausea just got worse, and by this time I knew I was going to throw up so I rushed into the bathroom like a drunken man, sat on the bathroom floor and lurched over the toilet thinking that this was it. I wanted whatever was in there out of my system, but nothing at all came out. In the meantime I was getting sicker, and I didnt think it could get worse! The nausea was causing me serious blurry vision and malaise, and I was on the point of actually blacking out. My greatest sadness was that this hateful thing in my system was going to make me miss my meeting with the bishop. I am sad to say that I was not even thinking of God at the moment because I think I feared my bishop more!
But just then, as I was at my lowest point and literally on the point of fainting, something took hold of me and lifted me up and said, “We’re not taking this!” or words to that effect. Then somehow, from a sitting position on the floor, I reached up and grabbed the sink with a power I didnt know I had and yanked myself to a standing position saying to myself, “No! Shake it offI’m not taking this.”
Well, bam, it was over. Immediately the nausea dissipatedI mean completely. It did not linger or take its time getting out of my system. It disappeared as quickly as it had come. My color came back in a few minutes, the sweats stopped instantly and I felt not the slightest bit of sickness at any time after that the whole day, night or week. What a miraculous resurrection! I was dumbfounded. At one moment I felt like I was sinking into the pit of hell and the next moment I was placed on the pinnacle of the Temple!
Simply put, I was attacked for daring to go against the demon to liberate a soul from his grip. It was not food poisoning that hurt me because nothing came up; the last time I was in that state the poisoned substances took a good two days to clear out of my system. But here, nothing. The illness was instantly gone. Not the slightest bit of sickness remained after I stood up. It was as if a spirit of nausea had been sent into me as retaliation for my pastoral love of that soul and was as easily cast out of me by my guardian angel who just said, Enough is enough! Tell me, how can we live without our faithful protectors? My, how I learned the truth of what St. Paul said to Timothy when he witnessed, The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit (2 Tm 1:7). Intrepid is a better word.
Let all faithful Christians take comfort. Our guardian angels never let us down if we strive to help others out of their spiritual bondage. When we engage in spiritual warfare we may have to bear some scars from the fray, but we will never be abandoned by Christs angels and saints. I had seven or eight minutes of persecution which I in turn offered for the sake of the soul I am still trying to liberate. If the devils intent was to drive me away, he picked the wrong guy with the wrong guardian angel. In fact, he just caused a potent bout of suffering to be offered for the liberation of the soul he oppresses much harder than he persecutes me. He lost in every way. St. Augustine says that God prefers to extract good from evil rather than suppress evil entirely. Now I understand why. God gets so much more out of it when we suffer with faith.
And there is a reason for all this warfare. St. Peter says that we may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears (1 Pt 1:6-7). Amen to that.
[Fr. Euteneuer is director of Human Life International in Virginia] http://www.spiritdaily.org/Spiritual-War-Angels/priestexorcismeffect.htm
Die Welt: Shortly after being named Pope, Benedict XVI met with a group of exorcists. Was that a signal?
Pedro Barrajon: No, it was just a routine meeting of Italian exorcists. The teachings of the Catholic church on evil have not changed in centuries.
What are those teachings?
They’re based primarily on the Bible, according to which God created all beings: mankind as well as the pure spirits, in other words the angels and demons.
God made demons?
He made everything. According to the Christian tradition, demons and the devil are fallen angels. They are angels that have revolted against God since the beginning of creation.
How could God permit evil in the first place?
For our freedom! Evil is linked implicitly to the gift of freedom. God made man free. In choosing whether to ban evil or give the gift of freedom, God opted for freedom. Without the possibility to choose between good or evil, there would be no freedom. That means that God values freedom more than all our sins. Animals are not evil but they are also never free. With freedom, God elevated us above animals.
How are we to understand the pure spirits?
They have wills. They have intelligence. But they have no senses. They have no bodies. Only people and animals have bodies.
According to Christian belief, God is a person. Are evil and the devil also people?
The Swiss theologian Karl Barth said that the demon is an impersonal person. What is a person? It’s a being with a spiritual nature, with intelligence and a will, whose intelligence searches for the truth and whose will aspires to goodness. The demon has intelligence and a will but its will aspires to evil and its intelligence searches for the non-truth. In this sense, says Karl Barth, the devil is a personal non-person, he calls it “the null”.
Does it have a face?
No. But God can allow angels and demons to take on physical forms of appearance. That’s how it’s possible for angels to appear to people and convey messages to them. And God can also permit demons to take on physical qualities and appear in this form to people or animals but that doesn’t affect their being. They can take on these forms but they don’t possess them.
Do they smell?
Some saints are said to be able to smell the devil like the great Teresa of Avila. She said the devil stank.
Some saints say that. It’s basically just a disgusting stink.
Where are demons at home? Hell?
Yes. Hell was made for them, not for people.
So Hell was made too?
Yes. Angels were created, thus fallen angels and thus hell. It is no self-creation. Hell is not a place, it’s a state. It’s the state in which demons can be themselves, united in their hatred of God. It’s the state of the negation of love. God is love. Hell is anti-love, it’s hatred. Hell is a notion of the state of these spirits. Hell is the state of an eternal anti-love. It’s also the eternal refusal to accept the love of God.
Are there objective criteria that can be used to determine if a person has been possessed by a demon?
The new ordinance on exorcism summarises the criteria for the event of possession very well. The clearest for me as a priest is the deep aversion to holy objects such as the cross, the rosary or the sign of the cross. Also an aversion to the word God when it is spoken, such people get very nervous. Less significant indications are the supernatural capabilities that these people can suddenly develop. They can speak foreign languages that they’ve never learned. They can levitate; they can float, they can overcome gravity. Sometimes they become inexplicably strong and violent. But it’s not that easy to diagnose cases of possession. I usually suggest that people see a neurologist or a psychiatrist before I get involved in their case. If I am advised by these experts that they can’t help, then I can begin a spiritual treatment. As a rule, I would say that of ten people who request an exorcism, one is truly possessed.
Are there reasons for possession?
We don’t know them. Nor can we say why one person gets cancer and another doesn’t. We have no explanation for that either. We only know that God’s power and love is greater when it comes to our physical and spiritual illnesses. That’s how possession has to be seen.
How does an exorcism work?
The church demands from a priest who is undertaking such an “expulsion” the moral certainty that it is indeed a case of possession. But there is no absolute certainty. So it is very important that an exorcist be a man of prayer and fasting.
The exorcism is a major official prayer in which the power of the church is very present. That’s the main thing. Sometimes holy water is used or incense, and there is always a crucifix in the priest’s hands. Several people should be present, in addition to the priest, in the event that the possessed person gets violent. People can be transformed by the expulsion of the devil. They don’t remain the same. During this rite, the demon exposes himself, given the presence of God and the many people praying together. It often becomes violent, because it knows that it has been defeated in a way. The voice of the possessed person usually changes and becomes very unpleasant.
Not at all. In such moments, I only feel sorry for the possessed person because he’s suffering and you see that he’s suffering. But at the same time you’re happy because you know that the exorcism will free him from this anguish. Every exorcism begins with the invocation of the trinity: the father, the son and the holy ghost. Then there’s a reading of excerpts from the Bible, before a kind of dialogue between the exorcist and the possessed person begins, in which the exorcist asks for the name of the demon. That’s always a difficult moment. Evil never wants to reveal itself. It often lies.
Why doesn’t he want to reveal his name?
The name discloses his being. Franz Rosenzweig once said the name is not “sound and smoke”, as Goethe says, but “word and fire”. The name Jesus means “God saves”. Isaac, Jacob, all these names have a particular meaning. And it always discloses the person’s being. When I say my name, I’m also saying: I am here. No Demon ever wants to say its name.
And once it’s said it?
At the end, the priest says to the demon, “Go away! Disappear!” The demon usually answers, “No, I don’t want to.” It rebels and revolts. Sometimes it says “You have no power over me. You are nothing to me.” But after a while, its resistance weakens. This usually happens after the invocation of the Holy Mother, she’s very important for that. No demon ever dares to insult her during an exorcism. Never.
Does he have more respect for Mary than for God himself?
Apparently. Otherwise no holds are barred, and everyone is insulted: the priests, everyone present, the bishops, the Pope, even Jesus Christ. But never the Virgin Mary. It’s an enigma.
An exorcism can last up to one hour and it ends with prayers. It’s advisable not to let it last too long because this battle is very difficult and stressful for all those present also for the person being exorcised. After the exorcism, everyone feels enormously relieved, as though they can breathe again. But in many cases a new exorcism is necessary. I know of cases in which people were only truly free to begin a new life after several exorcisms. They often say it’s like being born again.
There is so much evil in the world. Look at all the wars, all the massacres, the tyrants and murderers. Is it not strange that the devil still plays his games with lonely and poor people, taking them over? Couldn’t he do better, or rather worse? Isn’t he busy enough already?
That is truly a mystery. Cases of possession seem to me to be the evil flip-side of miracles, which are equally inexplicable, but which we can also observe. The devil is present everywhere that evil things happen within the normal laws of nature. In anyone who says: I don’t accept love, the love of my brothers and sisters, the love of God. And in many places, in all massacres, in every murder, in physical catastrophes, in every concentration camp, in all evil. Sometimes he shows himself, strangely, but also in cases of possession. But he’s much more dangerous where he doesn’t let himself be seen, where he can’t be done away with through exorcism. No question.
The interview originally appeared in German in Die Welt on December 2, 2005.
Father Pedro Barrajon is a professor of theological anthropology at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome, and member of the Catholic formation Legionaries of Christ, dedicated to studying and spreading the teachings of the Pope.
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National Catholic Reporter, Sept 1, 2000 by John L. Jr. Allen
Ancient ministry attracts new practitioners
At 73, Rome’s Fr. Gabriele Amorth, bald and with a face whose deep crevices suggest wisdom, looks a bit like Yoda, the diminutive sage who trained Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi Knight in the popular “Star Wars” trilogy. Amorth, too, is keeper of an ancient craft in a cosmic battle against evil.
Amorth’s apprentices, however, wield prayer books and holy water rather than light sabers. “Don Gabriele,” as the priest is known in Rome, is the official exorcist for the pope’s diocese, and the leading apostle for what he and others say is a revival in the practice of exorcism in the Western church.
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The resurgence was evident at a weeklong mid-July conference in Rome of the International Association of Exorcists, a group Amorth cofounded in 1993. Their first meeting seven years ago brought together just six Catholic exorcists. This summer more than 200 exorcists and their lay assistants showed up from all parts of the globe.
“When I started this work, I could name most of the other official exorcists in the Western church on my hands,” said Fr. Rufus Perea, a priest and exorcist of the Bombay, India, archdiocese who travels the globe healing and praying over people for deliverance from demons. “Now there are hundreds of us.”
The conference was off-limits to journalists, but several participants agreed to sit down afterward with NCR. The conversations provided a rare glimpse under this corner of the church’s big tent.
The practice of exorcism reaches deep into Catholic tradition. The word comes from a Greek term meaning “to pray or ask deeply,” and originally it had nothing to do with expelling demons. Jesus himself is “exorcised” twice in the New Testament, once by the high priest (Matthew 26:63) and once by the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 8:26-40). Both urge him to do something using the Greek word exorkizo. In the early Christian church, however, this term came to mean the practice of casting out evil spirits. The practice has waxed and waned throughout Christian history. (See accompanying stories, “A bit of exorcist history” and “Revised rite.”)
Polls show that surprising numbers of people remain open to the practice. A 1999 Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey concluded that almost 50 percent of Americans believe people are sometimes inhabited by the devil.
Fr. James Moroney, chief liturgist for the U.S. bishops’ conference, told NCR it is impossible to verify whether there has been growth in the number of exorcists in the United States, since the church does not track how many exorcists local bishops appoint.
Team handled 25 cases last
The most renowned American exorcist, Fr. James LaBar of the New York archdiocese, believes the movement is gathering steam. LaBar, appointed by the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor of New York, is part of a five-person team from that archdiocese that travels the country responding to exorcism requests. The group handled more than 25 cases last year.
“People know Cardinal O’Connor has exorcists, and so they call and we go,” LaBar said on a 1999 radio program. LaBar, who was unavailable for comment for this article, first came to prominence in 1991, when he took part in a Palm Beach, Fla., exorcism that was videotaped and later broadcast on ABC’s “20/20.”
LaBar said last year that his caseload is heavy in part because so few other American bishops have named exorcists. “Today if there are a half-dozen dioceses that have an officially appointed exorcist that would be a lot,” he said. “There’s a growing demand, and we don’t have the manpower to meet it.”
Rome’s Amorth told NCR that when he began working as an exorcist in 1986, there were fewer than 20 official exorcists in Italy. Now, he said, there are more than 300 in the country. Fueling the growth, observers here said, are two broad trends. The first is a rebirth of traditional forms of belief and devotion within Catholicism inspired by John Paul’s papacy. The other is the Catholic charismatic movement.
Perea, whose background is in the charismatic movement, told NCR that the two impulses generally reinforce each other, but there are tensions.
The first meeting of exorcists in 1990, he said, was composed almost entirely of traditional exorcists wary of lay collaboration. “They didn’t want to hear about any lay people practicing the ministry of deliverance,” he said, “especially enthusiasts coming out of the charismatic renewal.”
Perea pushed for expanded lay involvement and for a detente between the traditional exorcists and the charismatics. Today he heads a companion association, in partnership with the exorcists’ group, for priests and lay people who lack an official commission from a bishop but who nevertheless offer informal prayers for deliverance.
Such practices cause some uneasiness in official circles. A 1985 letter to bishops from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith specifies, that certain functions that are part of the exorcism rite are restristricted to priests. Those include ordering the demon out or inquiring about its identity.
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Twenty-nine years have passed since that day, June 29 1972. It was the Feast of Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles. It was the Feast of Saint Paul who brought the Gospel of Christ to the extreme corners of the West. On that day, June 29, Feast of the Patron Saints of Rome, Peters successor who had taken the name of Paul issued a dramatic warning. Paul VI spoke of Gods enemy supreme, that enemy of man called Satan, enemy of the Church. The smoke of Satan, warned Paul VI, has found its way into the Church through the fissures. It was an anguished warning that caused great shock and scandal, even within the Catholic world.
And what of today, 29 years later? Has that smoke been dispersed or has it continued to drift?
30DAYS went to see the man who has to do with Satan and his cunning every day. Its his job, almost. He is the worlds most famous exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, founder and honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists.
We also went to him because a few weeks ago, on May 15, the Italian Episcopal Conference approved the Italian translation of the new Rite of Exorcism. All it needs now for it to be used is the placet of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Is this a new weapon in the Churchs battle with the Enemy? Will it dispel, if it still hasnt been dispelled, that smoke which has drifted into the temple of the Lord? Nothing of the kind, according to Father Amorth. He will tell us that the war being waged for millennia rages on more angrily than ever. That the battlefront has now moved inside the house of the Lord. That the smoke the smoke has drifted in the most unsuspected directions.
At long last, the Italian translation of the new Rite of Exorcism is ready
GABRIELE AMORTH: Yes, it is. Last year, the Italian Episcopal Conference could not approve it because there were errors in the translation from the Latin. We exorcists who would have to use it took advantage of this to point out yet again that we were not in agreement with the new Rite on many points. The original Latin text is unchanged in this translation. A Rite so long-awaited has turned out to be a joke, an incredible cord that is tying us in knots in our work against the Devil.
Thats a serious allegation. What, exactly, are you referring to?
AMORTH: I can give you two examples, two blatant examples. At Point 15, it talks of evil in the sense of the evil eye and how we should conduct ourselves. The evil eye is an evil directed at a person through the Devil. This can be done in various ways, in the form of spells, curses, by voodoo and macumba. The Roman Rite explained how this had to be addressed. The new Rite, by contrast, categorically states that it is prohibited to perform exorcisms in these cases. That is just absurd. This evildoing is by far the most frequent cause of demonic possession and other evils procured by the Devil no fewer than 90 per cent. Its like telling exorcists to retire. Then, Point 16 solemnly states that exorcisms must not be carried out unless the presence of the Devil is ascertained. This is a masterpiece of incompetence because we can only ascertain if the Devil is possessing a person by performing an exorcism. Moreover, the editors did not realize that, on both points, they were contradicting the Catechism of the Catholic Church which advises exorcism both in the case of demonic possession and of evils caused by the Devil. It also says this should be done in regard both to people and things. The Devil is never present in things, just his influence. The statements contained in the new Rite are very grave indeed and very harmful. They are the fruit of ignorance and inexperience.
But wasnt it compiled by experts?
AMORTH: By no means, no. In these past ten years, two commissions have worked on the Rite the Commission of Cardinals who edited the Prenotanda, or the initial dispositions, and the Commission in charge of the prayers. I can say with certainty that no member of either commission has ever performed an exorcism or witnessed one. No member has even the faintest idea of what an exorcism is. There lies the error, the original sin of this Rite. No one who assisted with it was an expert on exorcism.
How can that be?
AMORTH: Dont ask me. During the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, every commission was assisted by a group of experts who worked alongside the bishops. This custom continued even after the Council every time parts of the Rite were reworked. But not in this case. And if ever there was an area where experts were needed it was this one.
So what happened then?
AMORTH: What happened was that we exorcists were never consulted. Furthermore, the suggestions we gave were received with a certain irritation on the part of the commissions. The whole thing really was paradoxical. Would you like me to tell you about it?
AMORTH: As the various parts of the Roman Rite were gradually being reviewed in keeping with the requests of the Second Vatican Council, we exorcists waited for Title XII to come up, the Rite of Exorcism. But it was evidently not considered a thing of relevance because years passed and nothing happened. Then suddenly, on June 4 1990, the ad interim Rite appeared to be tried out. It was a real surprise to us that we had not been consulted beforehand even though we had our requests all prepared well in advance of the revision of the Rite. We asked, for example, that the prayers be reviewed to include invocations to Our Lady that were completely lacking, and we asked for more specific prayers for exorcism. But we had been completely cut out. We were given no possibility of making any kind of contribution. But we were not discouraged. After all, the text had been produced for us. And we got down to work; this also considering that in his letter of presentation the then Pre- fect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, asked Episcopal Conferences to let him have, within two years, their advice and suggestions from the priests who will be using the Rite. I convened 18 exorcists from among the worlds most expert. We scrupulously examined the text and used it. We immediately praised the first part reassuming the Gospel foundations for exorcism. That was the biblicaltheological area certainly not lacking in experts. It was a new addition to the 1614 Rite, which had been composed under Pope Paul V. At that time, after all, it was not necessary to remind people of these principles. Everyone was familiar with them and accepted them. Today, this addition is vital. But when we got to the practical part in our scrutiny, the part that requires specific expertise, it was blatantly obvious that the editors had no experience at all. We made copious observations, article by article, and we submitted them to all parties concerned the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Episcopal Conferences, A copy was also delivered directly into the hands of the Pope.
How were your observations received?
AMORTH: The reception was very cool indeed, and their effect null. We had drawn our inspiration from the Lumen gentium, which describes the Church as People of God. At Number 28, it speaks of the collaboration between priests and bishops and, at Number 37, it explicitly says in relation to the laity, moreover that by reason of the knowledge, competence or pre-eminence which they have, the laity are empowered indeed sometimes obliged to manifest their opinion on those things which pertain to the good of the Church. That was our case exactly. But we had been ingenuously laboring under the illusion that the dispositions of Vatican II had reached the Roman Congregations. Instead, we found ourselves in front of a brick wall of rejection and scorn. The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship said in a report to the Commission of Cardinals that their only interlocutors had been bishops, not priests or exorcists. And he added in reference to our humble attempt to help as experts expressing their opinion: We had to take account of the phenomenon of a group of exorcists and so-called demonologists who subsequently formed an international association and who orchestrated a campaign against the Rite. This was an indecent accusation. We have never orchestrated any campaign. The Rite was designed for us and yet no competent person had been invited to join the commissions. Surely it was logical that we would have had a contribution to make.
Are you saying that the new Rite is useless in the struggle against the Devil?
AMORTH: Yes. Their intention was to arm us with a blunt sword. Some effective prayers were cancelled, prayers with 12 centuries of history. New ineffective prayers were written in. But, luckily at the last minute, they threw us a lifeline.
What was that?
AMORTH: Cardinal Jorge Medina, the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, accompanied the Rite with a Notification. It states that exorcists are obliged to use this Rite but may still use the old one if they wish, on lodging a prior request with the bishop. Bishops must then ask the Congregation for authorization, which the Congregation will gladly provide, the Cardinal writes. Gladly provide? Thats a rather strange concession
AMORTH: Want to know how that came about? From an attempt by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and again by Cardinal Medina to introduce an article to the Rite Number 38 at the time authorizing exorcists to use the previous Rite. This was an undoubted maneuver in extremis to insure us against the great errors contained in this definitive Rite. But this attempt by the two cardinals was thrown out. At that point Cardinal Medina, who had grasped what was at stake, decided to give us this lifeline in any event in the form of a separate notification.
What consideration does the Church have of you exorcists?
AMORTH: We are very badly treated. Our fellow priests who are given this highly problematical task are seen as crazed fanatics. In general, they are only just tolerated by the very bishops who appointed them.
What has been the most blatant manifestation of this hostility?
AMORTH: We held an international convention of exorcists near Rome and we asked to be received by the Pope. In order not to add yet another audience to his already long list, we asked if we might simply be received in the public audience on the Wednesday in Saint Peters Square. We did not even ask to be mentioned in his special greetings. We made our request in the regular way, as Monsignor Paolo De Nicolò of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household will well remember. He welcomed our request with open arms. But the day before the audience, the same Mon- signor De Nicolò told us and I have to say with such embarrassment that it was obviously not his decision that we could not go, that we had not been admitted. It was incredibile. Here were 150 exorcists from the five continents, all priests appointed by their bishops in conformity with the norms of Canon Law which state that these priests must be prayerful, knowledgeable and of good reputation, the cream of the clergy, in short here they were asking to take part in a public Papal Audience and being thrown out. Monsignor De Nicolò told me that he would of course explain the reasons in a letter to me. That was five years ago and Im still waiting for the letter. It was certainly not John Paul II who excluded us. But, that 150 priests are barred from taking part in a public Papal Audience in Saint Peters Square says much of how the exorcists of their Church are obstructed in their ministry, how much they are frowned upon by so many of the ecclesiastical authorities.
You are locked in daily battle with the Devil. What do you see as Satans greatest success?
AMORTH: The fact that he has managed to convince people that he does not exist. He has almost managed it, even within the Church. We have a clergy and an Episcopate who no longer believe in the Devil, in exorcism, in the exceptional evil the Devil can instill, or even in the power that Jesus bestowed to cast out demons. For three centuries the Latin Church in contrast to the Orthodox Church and the various Protestant professions has almost totally abandoned the ministry of exorcism. So because they no longer perform exorcisms, or study them, and never having seen them, the clergy no longer believe in them. And they no longer believe in the Devil. We have entire Episcopates trying to counter exorcism. We have countries completely devoid of exorcists, such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. This is a shameful shortfall.
You havent mentioned France so is the situation there any different?
AMORTH: The most famous French exorcist, Isidore Froc, wrote a book entitled Exorcists. Who they are and what they do. It was translated into Italian by the Piemme publishing house and had been commissioned by the French Episcopal Conference. This book never once says that exorcisms are performed in certain cases and the author has said on French television on several occasions that he has never performed an exorcism and never will. Out of about 100 French exorcists, only five of them believe in the Devil and perform exorcisms. All the others send people who come to them to psychiatrists. The bishops are the first victims of this situation in the Catholic Church, whose belief that the Devil exists is fading. Before this new Rite came out, the German Episcopate wrote in a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger that there was no point in a new Rite in that exorcisms should no longer be performed.
So, its up to bishops to appoint exorcists?
AMORTH: Yes, when a priest is named a bishop, he finds that an article of the Code of Canon Law gives him authority absolute in the appointment of exorcists. The minimum one can ask of any bishop is that he at least witness an exorcism, given that he has to make such an important decision. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case. But if a bishop finds himself having to address a serious request for exorcism one, that is, that does not involve a mental case and he does not provide for it, he is committing a mortal sin. And he is responsible for all the terrible suffering that the person endures, suffering that sometimes lasts for years or all his or her life and which the bishop could have prevented.
Are you saying that most of the bishops of the Catholic Church are in a state of mortal sin?
AMORTH: When I was a child, my old parish priest taught me that there were eight Sacraments, the eighth being ignorance. And the eighth sacrament saves more people than the other seven put together. To commit mortal sin implies grave matter but also full and deliberate consent. This failure by many bishops to help is grave matter. However, the bishops are ignorant of this so there is no full and deliberate consent.
But is a persons faith still intact, which is to say, is a persons faith still Catholic even if he or she does not believe that the Devil exists?
AMORTH: No. Let me tell you a story. The first time I met Father Pellegrino Ernetti, a famous exorcist who served for 40 years in Venice, I said to him: If I could meet the Pope, I would tell him that I encounter too many bishops who do not believe in the Devil. The next afternoon, Father Ernetti came back to me to tell me that, that morning, he had been received by John Paul II. Your Holiness, he said, there is an exorcist here in Rome, Father Amorth, who would tell you if he met you that he knows too many bishops who do not believe in the Devil. The Pope replied bluntly: Anyone who does not believe in the Devil does not believe in the Gospel. That was what the Pope said and I say it again.
Again, are you saying that many bishops and priests are not, consequently, Catholic?
AMORTH: Let us just say that they do not believe a Gospel truth. So, if anything, I would stop them propagating a heresy. But, to be clear about this, a person is officially a heretic if he or she is accused of something and persists in the error. No one today, given the situation in the Church, is accusing a bishop of not believing in the Devil, or in demonic possession or of failing to appoint exorcists because he does not believe. And yet I could give you the names of so many bishops and cardinals who, on their appointment to a diocese, stripped exorcists of their faculty to perform the rite. Or there are bishops who openly say they dont believe, that these are things of the past. Why is that? Unfortunately, we have had the insidious influence of certain biblists and I could mention some illustrious names. We who are in daily physical contact with the other world know that this influence is evident in numerous liturgical reforms.
AMORTH: The Second Vatican Council asked that some texts be revised. Disobeying this command, they set about re-writing them completely with no thought for the danger of making things worse instead of better. So many rites came off badly from this mania to throw out the old and start from scratch, as if the Church to date had always conned us and as if only now the time had at last come of the great geniuses, the supertheologians, the super-biblists and the super-liturgists who know what the right thing is for the Church. This is a lie: the last Council simply asked that the texts be revised, not destroyed. The Rite of Exorcism, for example, should have been corrected, not re-written. It contained prayers born of 12 centuries of experience. Before cancelling prayers which are so old and which proved for centuries to be so effective, we should think long and hard. But they did not. All of us exorcists in trying out the prayers of the new ad interim Rite have proved that they are totally ineffective. But then again, the Rite of Baptism of children came off worse, too. It was totally re-worked so that exorcism against Satan has been all but eliminated. Yet, this always had such great importance for the Church that it was called the exorcism minor. Paul VI also publicly protested against this new Rite. The new Rite of Benediction is not as good now. I read every line of it, all of its 1,200 pages and every reference has been removed to the fact that the Lord must protect us from Satan and the angels must protect us from attack by the Devil. They removed all the prayers for the benediction of homes and schools. Everything used to be blessed and protected but, today, we have no further protection from the Devil. We no longer have any defences or even prayers against him. Jesus himself taught us a prayer of deliverance in the Our Father: Deliver us from the Evil One, Deliver us from Satan. This has been erroneously translated so that we pray: Deliver us from evil. The inference is generic evil whose origin we know nothing about. Yet, the evil we were taught how to fight by Our Lord Jesus Christ is a real person Satan.
You speak from a vantage point. Do you feel that Satanism is on the rise?
AMORTH: Yes, very much so. When faith falls away, superstition increases. To use biblical language, I would say that one abandons God and turns to idolatry. In modern terms I would say that one abandons God and turns to the occult. The fearsome decline of the faith throughout Catholic Europe implies that the people turn to occultists and clairvoyants and, meanwhile, the Satanic sects prosper. The cult of the Devil is proclaimed to entire peoples through the Satanic rock music of individuals like Marilyn Manson. Even children are not immune from this assault their comics teach them magic and Satanism. Seances are very common, in which the dead are summoned in search of answers. Today, people can hold seances by computer, telephone, television and recorders. Spiritist writing is popular. They dont even need mediums any more. This is do-it-yourself spiritism. Surveys have found that 37 per cent of students have played with a ouija board at least once. This is a seance proper. At a school where I was invited to speak, the pupils told me that they even did this during their religious instruction period with the teachers encouragement.
Do these things work?
AMORTH: There is no distinction between white and black magic. When magic works, it is al- ways the work of the Devil. All the forms of occultism, such as mass recourse to Eastern religious with all their esoteric connotations, are an open door for the Devil. And so he comes in. Immediately. I had no hesitation in saying that there was direct intervention by the Devil in the case of the nun murdered in Chiavenna (for which three teenage girls have been charged) and in the case of Erika and Omar, the teenagers of Novi Ligure, North Italy (Erika, 16, is currently being held in a Milan detention center on suspicion of murdering her mother and 10-year-old brother, with the complicity of her boyfriend, Omar, 17). Those kids were devoted to Satanism. Police in their enquiries found that, in both these cases, these youngsters were followers of Satan. They had Satanic books.
How does the Devil go about seducing men and women?
AMORTH: His strategy is monotonous. I have told him so and he admits it He convinces people that there is no hell, that there is no sin, just one more experience to live. Lust, success and power are the three great passions on which the Devil insists.
How many cases of demonic possession have you come across?
AMORTH: After the first hundred, I stopped counting them.
A hundred? But thats a lot. In your books you say that cases of possession are rare
AMORTH: And they are. Many exorcists have come across cases of diabolical evil only. I, however, inherited the clientele of the famous exorcist, Father Candido, the cases he had not yet resolved. Moreover, the other exorcists send the most resistant cases to me.
And the most difficult case you have come across?
AMORTH: Im dealing with it now and have been for two years. It is the case of that girl who was blessed though it was not a proper exorcism by the Pope last October in the Vatican and which made headlines. She is under attack around-the-clock. Her torments are indescribable. Doctors and psychiatrists are baffled by this case. The girl herself is completely lucid and very intelligent. It is a very difficult case.
How does one fall victim to the Devil?
AMORTH: We can fall foul of the exceptional evils sent by the Devil for four reasons: if it works to the good of the person (in the case of many saints); persisting irreversibly in sin; because of a curse via the Devil; or by practising occultism.
What kind of phenomena are manifest during exorcisms?
AMORTH: I remember one illiterate farmer who spoke to me only in English. I had to have an interpreter. Some manifest superhuman strength. Some elevate so that even several people cannot hold them down on a chair. But we refer to demonic presence only in certain contexts.
Has the Devil ever hurt you?
AMORTH: When Cardinal Poletti asked me to become an exorcist I prayed to Our Lady: Wrap me in your mantel and I will be safe. I have had numerous threats from the Devil but he has never done me any harm.
Are you ever afraid of the Devil?
AMORTH: Afraid of that beast? Hes the one who should be afraid of me because I work in the name of the Lord of the world. He is only an ape of God.
Satanism is spreading more and more. The new Rite makes it difficult to perform an exorcism. Exorcists are prohibited from participating in a Papal Audience in Saint Peters Square. What exactly is happening here?
AMORTH: The smoke of Satan gets in everywhere, everywhere. Perhaps we were kept out of the Papal audience because they were afraid that all those exorcists might have cast out the legions of demons that have installed themselves in the Vatican.
Youre joking, arent you?
AMORTH: It might sound like it but I dont think it is a joke. I have no doubt whatever that the Devil is tempting the upper levels of the Church, above all, just as he tempts every upper level political and industrial.
Are you saying that here, too, as in every war, Satans aim is to capture the enemy leaders?
AMORTH: Thats the best strategy. It has always been so and especially when the defences of the enemy are down. Satan tries to apply this, too. But thank heaven the Church is upheld by the Holy Spirit: The gates of hell will not stand; this, despite the defections and despite the betrayals which should come as no surprise to us. The first traitor was one of the apostles closest to Jesus Judas Iscariot. In spite of it all, the Church presses along its path. It is upheld by the Holy Spirit and so all of the battles Satan wages can only bring partial results. The Devil may, of course, win the battles, even important battles, but he will never win the war.
Originally published June 2001 30DAYS, No. 6 - 2001.
Background and further information:
Spero News published “The Smoke of Satan in the House of the Lord” interview with Rome’s chief exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth written by Stefano Maria Paci for 30Giorni, since there are various English translations of the article floating on the internet — and the majority of them are unapproved.
The Spero News article is an official translation of that interview as provided by 30Giorni.
Described as the Vatican’s chief exorcist, Father Amorth has said that he has held over 50,000 exorcisms - some of those cases, he says, took only minutes, others much longer.
Despite Father Amorth’s high number of excorcisms, most readers may be more familier with his name in conjunction to past criticisms of Pottermania.
“Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil,” Father Amorth has been quoted as saying. According to Father Amorth, J.K. Rowling’s books make a false distinction between black and white magic. Amorth says that distinction “does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil.”
Father Amorth has written two books: An Exorcist Tells His Story, and An Exorcist: More Stories.
Some readers may remember reports of Pope John Paul II in the autumn of 2000 holding an impromptu exorcism upon a 19-year old Italian woman who had flown into a rage after an audience in St Peter’s. At the time, Father Amorth explained to the press that the young woman - who has been possessed since she was 12 years old - had been in the front row. At the close of the act she had begun to shout in a “cavernous” voice. Pope John Paul II, who performed three exorcims while Pope, prayed over the woman for a half hour, and ordered the demon to leave.
Father Amorth, the president of the International Association of Exorcists, said the demon refused.
Incidentally, while Father Amorth was not present at the papal exorcism, he too had failed to cast out the demon on the previous day with the very same girl.
According to a Beliefnet article, Pope John Paul II was alerted to the situation as “security personnel struggled to restrain her ‘superhuman’ efforts to break free.” Father Amorth is quoted in that same article as explaining that Pope John Paul “hugged this poor little girl, tried to console her, and promised that the next day, Thursday morning, he would celebrate his Mass for her,” Father Amorth said. Father Amorth said that after the girl met with the pope, Bishop Danzi and he performed another exorcism that lasted for two hours,” the article noted, adding that Father Amorth said that during that exocism the demon mocked the pope, saying, “Not even your [church] head can send me away.”
What some people may not know, however, is that young woman continued to be seen afterward by Father Amorth.
When asked what was the most difficult case that he had ever come across in the 2001 interview by Stefano Maria Paci, Father Amorth answered: “Im dealing with it now and have been for two years. It is the case of that girl who was blessed though it was not a proper exorcism by the Pope last October in the Vatican and which made headlines. She is under attack around-the-clock. Her torments are indescribable. Doctors and psychiatrists are baffled by this case. The girl herself is completely lucid and very intelligent. It is a very difficult case.”
Some readers may not be aware that following World War II, Amorth was a member of the new Christian Democrat party. In fact, he was a a deputy in that party, with Giulo Andreotti its leader. Andreotti went on to become seven times prime minister of Italy, while Father Amorth turned to the church.
In an interview Gyles Brandreth of The Sunday Telegraph, Amorth said that from the age of 15 he had known that the Church was his true vocation. “My speciality was the Madonna. For many years I edited the magazine Madre di Deo (Mother of God). When I hear people say, ‘You Catholics honour Mary too much,’ I reply, ‘We are never able to honour her enough,’” Amorth says in that interview, before explaining how he became the Vatican’s lead exorcist.
“I knew nothing of exorcism - I had given it no thought - until June 6, 1986 when Cardinal Poletti, the then Vicar of Rome, asked to see me. There was a famous exorcist in Rome then, the only one, Father Candido, but he was not well, and Cardinal Poletti told me I was to be his assistant. I learnt everything from Father Candido. He was my great master. Quickly I realised how much work there was to be done and how few exorcists there were to do it. From that day, I dropped everything and dedicated myself entirely to exorcism.”
Interestingly, Father Amorth says it is possible to sort out fakes and neurotics, from real cases of possession.
“By their aversion to the sacrament and all things sacred. If blessed they become furious. If confronted with the crucifix, they are subdued.” “But couldn’t an hysteric imitate the symptoms?,” says in the Telegraph interview. “We can sort out the phoney ones. We look into their eyes. As part of the exorcism, at specific times during the prayers, holding two fingers on the patient’s eyes we raise the eyelids. Almost always, in cases of evil presence, the eyes look completely white. Even with the help of both hands, we can barely discern whether the pupils are towards the top or the bottom of the eye. If the pupils are looking up, the demons in possession are scorpions. If looking down, they are serpents.”
“Demons are wary of talking and must be forced to speak. When demons are voluntarily chatty it’s a trick to distract the exorcist. We must never ask useless questions out of curiosity. We but must interrogate with care. We always begin by asking for the demon’s name.”
“And does he answer?” I ask. Father Amorth nods. “Yes, through the patient, but in a strange, unnatural voice. If it is the Devil himself, he says ‘I am Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub. We ask if he is alone or if there are others with him. Usually there are two or five, 20 or 30. We must quantify the number. We ask when and how they entered that particular body. We find out whether their presence is due to a spell and the specifics of that spell.
“During the exorcism the evil may emerge in slow stages or with sudden explosions. He does not want show himself. He will be angry and he is strong. During one exorcism I saw a child of 11 held down by four strong men. The child threw the men aside with ease. I was there when a boy of 10 lifted a huge, heavy table.
“Afterwards I felt the muscles in the boy’s arms. He could not have done it on his own. He had the strength of the Devil inside him.
This article was orginally published at 30Days.
I don’t doubt his story about his nausea, etc. but why did he think it was angels that delivered him? It was most likely Jesus, our deliverer.