Wanted: Grand Exorcist.
The vacancy has arisen as a result of the death at the age of 91 of Father Gabriele Amorth, the Catholic Church’s best-known exorcist, and honorary president for life of the International Association of Exorcists.
As a teenager he fought in the Italian resistance against the Nazis before joining the church in 1946.
His book, An Exorcist Tells His Story, published in 1999, remains a bestseller.
Amorth claimed that the Devil possessed Hitler, Stalin, and possesses ISIS, which seems fair enough, although we are not sure about his suggestion that yoga is the Devil’s work, nor that J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books should be banned.
He was brave when it came to offending the higher authorities of the Catholic Church, for example by claiming that Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee who went missing in Rome in June 1983, had been kidnapped for sex parties involving Vatican police and foreign diplomats, and later murdered. He also said that the sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church were proof that Satan was waging a war against the Holy See. “The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences,” he once said, adding that there are “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon.”
He claimed to have carried out between 70,000 and 160,000 exorcisms. About 40 exorcisms are carried out in Rome every week, with some 80% of the possessed being middle-aged, middle-class women. Amorth explained that high preponderance of women because they are “more vulnerable because they are the ones who mostly go to see clairvoyants, mediums, card readers, attend seances and belong to satanic sects…it could be that the Devil wants to use them to get at men like Eve did to Adam”.
Amorth believed that the possessed vomit pieces of iron and glass. During one session he said that “the Devil told a woman that he would make her spit out a transistor radio, and lo and behold she started spitting out bits and pieces of a radio… Such things are rare, but they happen.”
He claimed to have seen the possessed levitate, and he credited the 1973 horror film The Exorcist with giving a “substantially exact” representation of what Satan could do.
Most of his clients, he believed, were psychiatric cases, whom he refused to see unless they had seen a doctor first and whom he often treated in consultation with psychiatrists.
The Vatican has never dismantled its network of exorcists, who can be found in every diocese.
Picture source: Wikimedia