The Rev. Gabriele Amorth, age 85, has an unusual job to do at the Vatican. He is the chief Exorcist. While this subject might seem strange for a blog, it is another sign of change that has gone on within the Roman Catholic Church. Back in the day, exorcisms weren’t discussed. The Church barely admitted to performing them. According to CNN.com:
“The devil tempts everyone — people in politics, in economics, in sport. And naturally, he tempts, above all, the religious leaders, so you shouldn’t be surprised if the devil tempts those in the Vatican. That’s his job.”
The Rev. Gabriele Amorth isn’t speaking metaphorically when he says that. The 85-year-old priest means people can be tempted and literally possessed by Satan.
“It’s not my opinion: I’m saying that if you believe in the Gospels, you believe in the existence of the devil, in the devil’s power to possess people,” he said in an interview with CNN.
The faithful believe “that there are people possessed by the devil, and … in the power of exorcism to liberate from the devil,” he said.
And as the Vatican’s chief exorcist, it’s his job to expel the devil when someone is possessed. He’s performed more than 70,000 exorcisms in his career, he estimates.
But there is a difference between possession — where the devil takes hold of someone’s body and actions — and temptation, where Satan lures a person into doing evil, he said.
Father Amorth believes the pedophile priests have been tempted by the devil, not possessed by the devil. He has never performed an exorcism on a pedophile priest. Now the pedophile priest scandal is spreading in Europe in countries like Ireland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, Father Amorth feels that is important to note the difference. He does admit that he has done exorcisms on priests who have been molested by the devil but he does not elaborate on that.
Father Amorth says he sees only good people in the Vatican. Speaking of pedophile priests, he says:
“They don’t need exorcism, they need to be converted, to be converted to God, that’s what they need. They need to confess, they need true penitence, true repentance, that’s what they need. They’re not possessed.”
But no one is too strong a believer to be possessed, Amorth said.
Good for the Catholic Church for finally talking publicly about the ritual of exorcism. Back in the early 70s when William Peter Blatty first wrote The Exorcist, the ritual was shrouded in mystery. The novel was written on an actual case of a possessed boy who lived in Mt. Rainer, Md. Blatty spoke at the time of the difficulty he had doing the research. The Church simply did not release information on this subject.
It seems that now the Church has been forced to discuss the pedophilia that has gone on and exorcisms. Sunlight is probably a good thing. Darn that was a terrifying movie!