Deliverance Prayer


Note: Whenever I use bold type the emphasis is mine and not the emphasis of the source that I am quoting. Everything in Italics is quotation from Holy Scripture.



Ron, I certainly wish I had the gift of delivering my husband from his obsession to gamble. This has been my cross for many years. I was under the impression that only a priest had that authority. Also, I remember this very powerful priest, Fr. Machado saying one day, on speaking about ‘The Power of Confession’, that every Confession is like mini-deliverance freeing us from our sins. He said it has been known that people with various illnesses, including cancer have been healed simply by going to Confession and having all his sins washed away. I am so happy to be a part of your e-mail group. It is so informative. Thank you so much. Patricia



“Possession: Assaulting a person from within, the devil takes control of the individual in some ways. Obsession: The devil attacks the individual from the outside. Whenever Catholics feel anxious that some form of evil is at work, they typically pray to St. Michael, because he’s the one who defeated Lucifer and cast him into hell for rebelling against God.”

If the situation involves demonic possession, only a priest can do an exorcism. “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be solemn exorcism, called a major exorcism, can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop.”


In the lesser ‘obsession‘ situations, a mature Christian can pray a deliverance prayer and ask our Lord to remove the evil spirit(s) from the person or place. “And John, answering, said: Master, we saw a certain man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said to him: Forbid him not; for he that is not against you, is for you.”

Jesus, when asked how we are to pray, taught us The Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen”

“A Christian can break this bondage (control by evil spirits) through the power of the name of Jesus. Satan trembles when Christians use the name of Jesus. Satan must obey the command of Christians when they use His (Jesus’) holy name.”

In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 disciples to do His work and they return. Keep in mind that you (reading this) and I are also His disciples. “And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying: Lord, the devils also are subject to us in thy name. But yet rejoice not in this, that spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.”


There is one additional piece of information that is very important in performing successful exorcisms by a priest or deliverances by anyone – free will! All of us have the use of our free will. The person being prayed over must agree that they have a demonic problem and they must agree to want this evil spirit(s) removed. Further, they must desire to give up the sin that caused the spirit(s) to attack them. If you do not have the person’s cooperation, the deliverance will not work!


Fr. Machado is correct in that confession is like mini-deliverance. Priests have great power over evil spirits. Jesus teaches us, “And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk? But that you may know that the son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said He to the man sick of palsy), Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house.”

Remember, a priest in the confessional acts in the person of Christ – in persona Christi!


When I was doing deliverance prayer on a fairly regular basis, we taught the people delivered that they must fill the area of their life where they received deliverance with Jesus. We taught them that if they left this unfilled void in their being that it was quite possible for the evil spirit or other evil spirits to return. We would encourage these people to fill that void with prayer, scripture readings, helping the poor, Christian companionship, etc. “And when an unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith: I will return into my house from whence I came out. And coming he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of the man is made worse than the first.”


I hope that I have addressed your concerns about deliverance from evil spirits. If you have further questions, please ask.

This report prepared on February 3, 2005 by Ronald Smith, 11701 Maplewood Road, Chardon, Ohio 44024-8482, E-mail: Readers may copy and distribute this report as desired, without restrictions in number, as long as the content is not altered and is copied in its entirety.


† Let us recover by penance what we have lost by sin †


The Prayer To St. Michael the Archangel given by Pope Leo XIII
Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and  snares  of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of our souls. Amen.


No adequate explanation of the Holy Angels is complete without reference to Saint Michael the Archangel. He joins Saints Gabriel and Raphael as the trio of Archangels specifically mentioned by name throughout the Church’s history, given their appearance in Sacred. The “Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel” offers a fitting summary of who this celestial being is and the significant role which he plays in the Almighty’s creation.
1. Saint Michael the Archangel
An angel is similar to God in that he is a spirit; however, he differs from the Creator in that it is a created spirit while only God is the Uncreated Spirit. This angel has from God a name, meaning “who is like unto God.” Saint Michael belongs to the choir of angels called the Archangels, usually listed eighth of the nine choirs.
2. Defend us in battle
We readily acknowledge that a fierce war is waging-a terrible conflict which has continued unabated since the fall of the angels. Good and evil constantly do battle. Saint Michael is fervently implored for his powerful, fearless assistance against the considerable forces of the underworld.
By asking for his help, the Christian faithful recognize his longstanding position as protector of God’s holy people.
3. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil
The devils are like the “good” angels: created spirits without bodies. But, the devils are the fallen angels who disobeyed God rather than submit to His commands. Not only are the devils evil but they also want us to become evil. They delight in setting pitfalls for us. Saint Michael vanquishes the demons; he assists us in negotiating the inevitable hurdles which can trip us.
4. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray

Already we know that God has defeated Satan. Jesus’ salvific Death and Resurrection was the death knell for Hades and its advocates. Yet, we still are to pray that the Lord will rebuke him. Why? Because we are summoned to state our intention, thereby aligning our wills with that of the Lord’s. We desire what God desires, namely, that Satan’s influence will cease over those who seek to become friends of the Master.
5. And do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host

The one who prays uses Saint Michael’s title. He has been granted special command among the angels. Furthermore, it is expected that he will do something. There is a tangible anticipation that this Archangel will act.
6. By the power of God
The Prince of the Heavenly Host must rely on the strength of the Lord. Saint Michael possesses tremendous power because the Creator believes it appropriate that he has it. Saint Michael, too, bows under God’s mighty hand.
7. Cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits
Why must Satan and his minions be thrown into Hell if they presently are there? We long for the day when Satan will be tightly bound, never again able to tempt anyone to sin. His dominion will be forever at an end.


The vast army of demons will no more roam earth to inflict their damage on souls.
8. Who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls
This phrase precisely describes what the devils seek: the everlasting ruination of immortal souls. They waste no time in enticing men and women, boys and girls to forsake Jesus and His call to authentic holiness. Saint Michael is the antidote to the pernicious activities carried on by “Satan and all the evil spirits.” This Archangel has the authority from God to stop them.
9. Amen

This often-used word signals belief and acceptance. It underscores what we have now affirmed. Saint Michael indeed serves God and His children in a notable, lasting manner. The Church professes that this Archangel has been chosen by the Lord Himself to help usher in the reign of abiding peace which Christ came, died and rose to establish.


Disciples of Christ may learn much from Saint Michael the Archangel. He is a true servant who surrenders to the divine directive. He is a warrior who willingly spars with the terrors of Hell. He is an example of sanctity who offers the faithful a model of love for God and zeal for souls.
With the scores of good angels, Saint Michael, the champion, protects and defends the Church Militant. The Church is blest by his presence. Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us!


In the name of Jesus, I take authority and I bind all powers and forces in the air, in the ground, in the water, in the underground, in the netherworld, in nature and in fire.
You are the Lord over the entire universe and I give you glory for your creation.

In your name I bind all demonic forces that have come against our families and us and I seal all of us in the protection by your precious blood that was shed on the cross.
Mary, our mother, we seek your protection and intercession with the Sacred Heart of Jesus for our families and us, and surround us with your mantle of love to discourage the enemy.
St. Michael and Guardian Angels, come defend our families and us against all the evil ones that roam the earth.
In the name of Jesus, I bind and command all the powers of evil to depart right now away from us, our homes and our lands, and we thank you Lord Jesus, for you are a faithful and compassionate God, Amen.


In the name of Jesus the Son of the Living God, in the name of Jesus the Son of the Virgin Mary, I/we challenge every spell, spirit, power and work of darkness and command you to go to the feet of Jesus to be bound and never to return. Lord Jesus, cover us your children with your most Precious Blood and let us experience the fullness of your Redemption. We thank you and we praise you Jesus.



When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing.

In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism.

The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.


According to Canon 1172
of the
Code of Canon Law
no one may licitly perform exorcisms on those who are possessed, unless he has obtained particular and express permission from the local ordinary, and it decrees that this permission is to be granted by the Ordinary only to priests who are outstanding in piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life. 


Belief in Satan is a tenet of Catholic faith – Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez



Prefect for Divine Worship on the New Rite of Exorcism

26, 1999 ( ZE99012615

This morning, Cardinal Jorge Medina, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented the New Rite for Exorcisms of the Roman Ritual in the Vatican Press Hall.

“We know there are Catholics who have not received good formation and doubt the existence of the devil, but this is an article of faith and part of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Whoever says the devil does not exist is no longer a believer.” This was the clear and categorical answer of Cardinal Medina, in response to the question of a reporter about the doubts of many Christians on the existence of the devil.

“The new text is an outgrowth of the old. There are no substantial changes or break with the previous text. There are changes in language: the new text has more sober language, with less adjectives. Moreover, it gives the priest who practices the rite of exorcism greater liberty — greater flexibility in the choice of prayers to use. In a word, there is a new style, in a language more adapted to our time, but the content is the same,” Cardinal Medina said.

The chapter with instructions and the liturgical text of the exorcisms in the Roman Ritual was written in 1614*; it was the last one needing revision after Vatican Council II. *Pope Paul V

“The current text, which has been approved by the Supreme Pontiff, is published today and placed at the disposition of the pastors and faithful of the Church; it is the fruit of ten years of work and can be used immediately in Latin. Individual Episcopal Conferences will have to translate it into the appropriate national languages. In keeping with Canon Law, however, the translations will have to be submitted for approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship.”

Cardinal Medina explained that “exorcism begins with the faith of the Church, according to which Satan and evil spirits exist. Their activity is to lure men away from the path of salvation. Catholic doctrine teaches that demons are fallen angels who sinned; spiritual beings of great intelligence and power. But Satan’s power is not infinite; he is only a creature, but powerful because a pure spirit. Nevertheless, he cannot impede the building of the Kingdom of God.”

Speaking of Satan, Cardinal Medina emphasized that “the nefarious influence of the devil and his followers is exercised habitually through deceit, lying and confusion. Just as Jesus is the Truth, the devil is the liar par excellence. From the beginning, lying has always been his favorite strategy. He deceives men by making them believe that happiness is to be found in wealth, power, and carnal concupiscence. He deceives men by persuading them they have no need of God and that they are self-sufficient, without the need of grace and of salvation. He also deceives them by minimizing — worse yet, by making the sense of sin disappear, substituting God’s law as the criterion of morality with the customs and conventions of the majority. He persuades children that lying is a good way to solve many problems, and thus, little by little, an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion is created among men. Because of the lies and deceits of the Great Liar, uncertainties and doubts are awakened in a world in which there is no longer any security, or Truth and where, instead, relativism reigns as well as the conviction that liberty consists in doing whatever one wants. There is no understanding that true liberty is found in doing God’s Will, the source of good and sole font of happiness.”

“For these reasons, the whole of human history is characterized by a tremendous struggle against darkness. Man must struggle without letup to remain united to the good. He cannot achieve interior unity without great effort and the help of God’s grace,” the Cardinal explained. “The Church is certain of the final victory of Christ and that is why she is not dragged down by fear and pessimism, but at the same time, she is very aware of the evil one who tries to discourage man and who sows confusion. It is within this framework that exorcisms must be understood, a very important chapter, but not the only one, in the struggle against the evil one.”

To the question if exorcism has changed because of the advent of psychoanalysis, Cardinal Medina answered: “exorcism is one thing, and psychoanalysis is another. If the exorcist has any doubt about the mental health of the possessed, he should consult an expert. It is not always necessary, but it is prudent to hear what the psychiatrist has to say. It often happens that simple people confuse somatic problems with diabolical influence, but not everything can be attributed to the devil.”

In regard to the spread of Satanic sects and occult circles, the Cardinal stated: “Satanism is a very old problem, difficult to uproot, because the people who practice it work under cover. The most tragic thing is that the devil is able to deceive man and make him seek happiness exactly where he will never find it.”


Vatican releases new rite for exorcism


VATICAN ( January
26, 1999 The Devil exists. That unpopular reality is brought into sharp focus by the promulgation of a new rite of exorcism for the Catholic Church.

De Exorcismus et supplicationibus quibusdam, approved by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 1998, was formally released by the Vatican on January 26. The document sets out a new and precise liturgical form for the rite of exorcism. The 84-page form, introduced by the Congregation Divine Worship, was published entirely in Latin; the episcopal conferences of different nations may now prepare their own versions in the vernacular languages.

This new Vatican document clearly recognizes both the existence of the Devil and the reality of diabolical possession. In a short introduction, the document calls attention to the existence of both “angelic creatures” and others “called demons, who are opposed to God.” Since the influence of the demonic can become apparent in people, places, or things, the document continues, the Church “has prayed, and continues to pray, that men will be freed from the snares of the Devil.”

The new rite confirms “the victory of Christ and the power of the Church over the demons.” It points to the rites in the Christian tradition: the “minor exorcism” of catechumens prior to their baptism and the major exorcisms conducted according to this ritual. The latter are designed to “drive out demons, or bring freedom from demonic influence, through the spiritual authority which Jesus confided in his Church.”

The liturgical ritual itself is centered on supplicatory prayers, asking for God’s help, and “imperative” prayers addressed directly to the Devil, commanding him to depart. The prayers are to be said as the exorcist lays his hand on the individual, and are part of an overall ritual which includes specific blessings and sprinklings with holy water. The ritual also includes the litany of the saints, the reading of the Psalms and the Gospel, and a proclamation of faith which may be either the familiar Creed or a simple question-and-answer (“Do you renounce Satan? I do.”). The ritual concludes with the kissing of the Cross, and the final prayer, proclaiming the triumph of Christ and his Church.

The new ritual for exorcism replaces one which was promulgated as part of the Roman Ritual of 1614. The Second Vatican Council called for the revision of that Ritual, which has been accomplished in stages during the past 30 years; the rite of exorcism was the last of the new rituals to be introduced.

In introducing the new document to reporters in Rome, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said that the rite has not been greatly changed from the earlier ritual. He added that while there are “very few cases” in which the rite is used, the rite of exorcism– which can only be used under the guidance of the local bishop, and with the consent of the person suffering diabolical possession– remains necessary because the Devil is a reality. He cautioned that while many Catholics today no longer profess belief in the Devil, that belief “is not a matter of opinion which one can accept or reject; it is an element of faith and Catholic doctrine.”


New Rite of Exorcism

National Conference of Catholic Bishops – January – February 1999 Newsletter – Committee on the Liturgy Volume XXXV

On January 26, 1999, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, announced that on November 22, 1998, the Solemnity of Christ the King, he had signed a decree by which a revised editio typica latina of De Exorcismis (Rite of Exorcism) was to be published. In response to article 79 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, this rite was revised to replace Chapter XII of the former Latin Roman Ritual, and will eventually be published in vernacular editions for use by the Church throughout the world. This rite may be used by priests who have been given a specific faculty to do so by the diocesan bishop.

Creation, Fall and Christ’s Victory

The first chapter of this new rite reviews the scriptural record, which proclaims the victory of Christ and his Church over all. God not only creates all things visible and invisible, but governs and protects his creatures as well. Created good, the devil and his demons chose to be estranged from God. Likewise, man, created in the image of God, abused the gift of his liberty, having been persuaded to sin by the devil. Thus a terrible struggle against the powers of darkness has pervaded the whole of human history. The introduction recalls the Lord Jesus’ victories over Satan, the exorcisms he performed and his healing of those who were under the devil’s power. Sent by his merciful Father, Christ destroyed death by his own death and reconstituted human nature by rising triumphant from the grave. Finally, Christ gave this power to expel spirits to the Apostles so that in his name, the Church might carry on the work of her Lord.

Exorcism in the Church’s Ministry of Sanctification

Many forms of exorcism have, therefore, been practiced by the Church from her beginning. In preparation for baptism, catechumens receive minor exorcisms whereby the Church prays that they be freed from sin and the influence of the evil one. Likewise, the Liturgy of Baptism itself includes a renunciation of Satan and all his works and the Rite for the Baptism of Children includes a prayer of exorcism which asks God to set the children free from original sin and makes them temples of God’s glory, sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within them.



These rites recall that through the waters of Baptism all may participate in the victory of Christ over sin, the devil and his darkness.

Even those reborn in Christ, however, experience temptation and must be vigilant in prayer and sobriety of life, resisting the devil by the celebration of the sacraments and especially the Sacrament of Penance.

The occurrence of diabolic possession is very difficult to understand. The Church appropriately addresses such situations with a liturgical celebration called a “major exorcism”, whereby, united with the Holy Spirit, she implores God’s help to expel demons. In exorcizing evil spirits, the Church acts not in her own name but in the name of Christ the Lord, to whom even the devil and the demons must be obedient in all things.

Possession and Exorcism

The celebration of the Liturgy of Exorcism is regulated solely by the bishop of a diocese, who may appoint a priest-exorcist, a man of piety, knowledge, prudence and holiness of life. The exorcist must demonstrate maximum circumspection and prudence, initially approaching the possessed person as he would anyone who suffers from physical or psychological illness. The exorcist decides whether a person is possessed after a diligent investigation, including extensive consultation, with spiritual, medical and psychological experts.

Signs of diabolic possession include the speaking of unknown languages, the knowing of distant or hidden things and the manifestation of abnormal physical strength. Yet each of these may be attributable to other causes and are not necessarily signs of diabolic possession. Thus, spiritual signs, such as an aversion for the name of God, the Holy Name of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints, the Church, the Word of God, the Church’s rites or sacramentals and sacred images must be taken into consideration along with the relationship of all these factors to the life of faith.

If it is determined that a person is not truly possessed the Church nonetheless provides appropriate spiritual help without a major exorcism. All must be done to avoid the perception that an exorcism is magic or superstition. Exorcisms should never be broadcast in any media and should be treated with proper discretion.

The Rite of Exorcism

The rite itself is described in Chapter Six of the Introduction. The exorcist begins the rite with the sign of the cross and a sprinkling with blessed water by which the purification received in Baptism is recalled. A litany of the saints follows, asking for God’s mercy. Then, the exorcist may recite one or more of a selection of Psalms, which may be prayed responsorially. At the end of the Psalms, the exorcist may offer a Psalm-prayer.

The Gospel, which is a sign of the presence of Christ, is then read aloud, since Christ through his word proclaimed in Church relieves the sicknesses of all. An imposition of hands upon the possessed person follows with an invocation of the Holy Spirit and an optional insufflation (blowing on the face of the possessed person by the exorcist). The Creed is then recited, and a renewal of baptismal promises is made, including a renunciation of Satan. This portion of the rite concludes with the Lord’s Prayer (deliver us from evil.).

After these rites the exorcist shows the possessed person the cross of the Lord and traces the sign of the cross on the forehead of the possessed in order to indicate the power of Christ over the devil. A prayer to God follows, along with, if it seems appropriate, an imperative formula by which the exorcist commands the devil to leave the possessed person. This rite may be repeated, as deemed necessary by the authorized exorcist. The entire rite concludes with a canticle of thanksgiving, a prayer and a blessing.

The Introduction to the rite reminds the exorcist of the importance of prayer and fasting and the roles which the parents, friends, confessor and spiritual director of the possessed may take. An exorcism should be conducted in church whenever possible and in the presence of images of the crucified Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The exorcist is urged to note the importance of a constant knowledge of the physical and psychological state of the possessed person along with the necessity to patiently support the possessed person, never doubting the help of God or the office of the Church.

While a small group of the faithful may be present for the exorcism, they should pray only their assigned parts and refrain from pronouncing the formulas which belong only to the authorized exorcist. Finally, the Introduction offers guidance for the happy occasion when a possessed person has been delivered from demonic oppression.

Chapter Six describes adaptations which may be made by Episcopal Conferences, whose role it is to prepare a translation of the text in an absolutely faithful and integral way and to adapt the rite with the consent of the Holy See.


Cardinal Medina Says New Rite of Exorcism Similar To Old

The Wanderer, February 4, 1999

VATICAN CITY (VIS) Jorge Arturo Cardinal Medina Estevez, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on January 26th presented at the Holy See Press Office the new rite of exorcism of the Roman Book of Rites.


Cardinal Medina began by stating that the person’s capacity to welcome God is “blurred by sin, and at times evil occupies the place where God wishes to dwell. For this reason, Jesus Christ came to liberate the person from the dominion of evil and sin…. Jesus Christ drove out demons and liberated people who were possessed with evil spirits to make space for Him in that person.

“Exorcism is an old and particular form of prayer which the Church uses against the power of the Devil,” he continued. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1673) explains that exorcism is directed at “the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to His Church.”

According to the rite of exorcism, continued the cardinal prefect, there are various criteria to know if we are dealing with demonic possession: “Speaking with a great number of words from unknown languages, or understanding them, making known things either distant or hidden, showing strength beyond one’s situation, together with vehement aversion toward God, our Lady, the cross, and holy pictures.”

“To perform an exorcism,” he stressed, “authorization from the diocesan bishop is required, which can be given for a specific case, or rather in a general and permanent way to the priest who has the ministry of exorcist in the diocese.”

Cardinal Medina said that the Roman Book of Rites contained in the last chapter the indications and liturgical text of the exorcisms, but “it had not been revised since Vatican Council II.” After ten years of work, the current text was approved by the Pontiff. Once the translations of the ritual are completed in different languages, they will be submitted “for the recognition of the [Sacred] Congregation for Divine Worship.”

In the current book of rites there is “the rite of exorcism itself, and “the prayers which must be publicly recited . . . when it is prudently deemed that there is an influence of Satan over places, objects, or people, without having arrived at the phase of possession itself. In addition, there is a series of prayers which the faithful must pray privately when they believe that they are subject to demonic influences.”

“Exorcism has its departure point in the faith of the Church, according to which Satan and other evil spirits exist. . . . Catholic doctrine teaches us that demons are fallen angels as a result of their sin, and that they are spiritual beings with great intelligence and power.”

The prefect of the congregation, recalling with The Catechism of the Catholic Church that “the power of Satan is not infinite,” said however that God’s allowing us to be tempted “is a great mystery.”

In conclusion, he emphasized that “the harmful influence of the Devil and his evil spirits is normally exercised through deception, falsehoods, lies, and confusion. As Jesus is the Truth, the Devil is the liar par excellence. Lies have always been, right from the beginning, his preferred strategy.”

In answer to a question, Cardinal Medina explained that “there is great continuity between the old and the new rites, there are no radical changes. The language is more somber and fewer adjectives are used; however, the expression of faith in the power of God to expel the Devil is the same in both cases.



By Father David C. Trosch

The Rite (Ritual) for expelling demons (devils) from people certified as being possessed by authorized Catholic priests.

WARNING: Only Catholic priests who are both legally and morally ordained and are faithful to the teachings of Sacred Scripture, as validly understood through the legitimate moral authority of the Church, and who remain spiritually sound should attempt an exorcism.  

Devils are powerful beings and can be extremely harmful to the unqualified.  Instead, praying the Exorcism Prayer is encouraged.

Preliminary actions for those recognizing satanic activity in relation to themselves:

Immediately reject any and all types of unnatural insights whether they occur in a dream or while in a waking state. Such insights commonly originate in the occult and are of satanic origin. Such insights may refer to a past, present of future event. They are intended to seem worthy with resultant enhancement of self-esteem. Eventually the evil spirits giving these insights, feelings, or seeing of auroras will seek full control over a captivated persons being. Such possessions or manifestations frequently occur to those who have used or participated in the following: Ouija boards, Séances, Magic 8 balls, Palm reading (even as a game), Tea leaf reading, Fortune-telling, Potions, Incantations, Yoga (even as exercise), Martial Arts (in most cases), Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter Books, Eastern Mysticism, Tarot Cards, etc.

When one begins honestly trying to live the Christian life, one MUST break with all Satanic influences that one has accepted in one’s life. This would include all organized occultic behavior. Many of these things are presented as games or midway attractions at a county fair, but they’re actually portals of access for the attack of one or devils. It may have been years since one was involved but until it is recognized as sin, confessed, and absolved with proper penance, the doors remain open for Satan’s entry.

Many people never know that the games they were involved with as children are mortal sins that will send them to hell without proper repentance.
It is not enough to say that you never did it yourself. To be aware that any of these things are being done and not to say something against it is to give tacit approval by your presence. Such failure jeopardizes your own soul.

Avoid other conditions and associations that breed satanic influence concerning one’s spiritual life:

Disassociate from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, illicit sex, pornography.

Terminate association with any of the following and similar organizations:

Freemasonry, Skull and Bones, Illuminati, B’ani B’rith, Cecil Rhodes Scholars, Satanism, Wicca, Eastern Star, Shriners, York Rite, Scottish Rite, Amaranth, DeMolay, Order of the Rainbow for Girls, Job’s Daughters and ALL other Secret Societies.

Eastern Religions, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Rotary International, Kiwanis International, Lions Club, and similar organizations most of which are at least indirectly associated with Freemasonry.


The Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual)

Instructions and rules involving Exorcism

Possession is not lightly or be taken for granted. Each case is to be carefully examined and great caution is to be used in distinguishing genuine possession from certain psychological and physical disorders.
The priest who undertakes the office should be himself a holy man, of a blameless life, intelligent, courageous, humble, and he should prepare for the work by special acts of devotion and mortification, particularly by prayer and a fasting (Matthew 17:20).
He should avoid in the course of the rite everything that savors of superstition, and should leave the medical aspects of the case to qualified physicians.
He should admonish the possessed, in so far as the latter is capable, to dispose himself for the exorcism by prayer, fasting, confession, and communion, and while the rite is in progress to excite within himself a lively faith in God’s goodness, and a patient resignation to His holy will.
The exorcism should take place in the church or some other sacred place, if convenient; but if on account of sickness or for other legitimate reasons, it takes place in a private house, witnesses (preferably members of the family) should be present: this is specially enjoined, as a measure of precaution, in case the subject is a woman.
All idle and curious questioning of the demon should be avoided, and the prayers and aspirations should be read with great faith, humility, and fervor, and with a consciousness of power and authority.
The Blessed Sacrament is not to be brought near the body of the obsessed during exorcism for fear of possible irreverence; but the crucifix, holy water, and, where available, relics of the saints are to be employed.
If expulsion of the evil spirit is not obtained at once, the rite should be repeated, if need be, several times.
The exorcist should be vested in surplice, and violet stole.

[The above was written prior to 1952 and is entirely in Latin. In 1952, there was the last revision made by Pope Pius XII to the Roman Ritual, after which has come the new Rite,
De Exorcismus et Supplicationibus Quibusdam
, in 1999, replacing the old Pope Paul V’s Roman Ritual of 1614.- Michael]


Exorcism Rite Reformed

By Crista Kramer von Reisswitz, “Inside the Vatican”, March 1999, pages 30-33
“In a new Latin text of the exorcism ritual, the Church has reaffirmed that the devil exists and is at work in the world. But driving him away may require a modern approach.

“Get Thee Back, Satan!” The devil takes actual demonic “possession” of few souls—and the Vatican’s revised “Rite of Exorcism” stresses caution in distinguishing which these are before performing an exorcism.”

“Go back. Satan!” These are the key words in the reformed Catholic ritual for driving out demons, made public January 26 in Rome. In De Exorcismus et Supplicationibus Quibusdam (“Concerning Exorcisms and Certain Supplications”) — the Latin version is the only version currently available — priests who have been appointed as exorcists by their bishops are urged to be circumspect and prudent in performing their duties.

Rule number one, therefore, is discretion.
At a Vatican press conference January 26, 1999, to present the reformed ritual, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, stressed that very few people are actually possessed by demons (Church officials say only one in every 5,000 reported cases is an actual demonic possession).
Thus, Medina said, exorcists must distinguish between the truly possessed and those who are suffering from hysteria or mental illness.
The revised rite of exorcism, which replaces Pope Leo XIII’s* version of 1614, has been 10 years in the making.

*Pope Paul V (1605-1621); Pope Leo XIII (1878 to 1903)- Michael


The 90-page Latin document will now be given to national bishops’ conferences for translation into local languages.
Because the document encourages pastors to use the insights of psychology to discern alleged cases of possession, the day after the Vatican issued its new ritual, international dailies flashed headlines such as “With Freud against the Devil.” However, the appeal to Church exorcists to consult with doctors and psychotherapists is not really new. Several Italian papers recalled Pope Pius XII’s 1952 handwritten amendment to the exorcism ritual recommending just such a close collaboration. In fact, the chief novelty in the new ritual is a traditional one: the addition of an appeal to the Virgin Mary.
The Vatican document stresses exorcisms must be performed with the permission — and the authority — of the local bishop. The text also stresses that Catholic priests appointed as exorcists must be exceptionally well educated, compassionate and pious.

At his January 26 presentation, Medina explained the origin and meaning of the ritual of exorcism.
What is an exorcism?

CARDINAL MEDINA ESTEVEZ: To understand what exorcism is, we must start with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to announce and inaugurate God’s reign over the world and human beings. He cast out devils so that man could freely respond to God, who wants to give him his Holy Spirit and to direct his steps towards peace and salvation.
The Church is called to follow Jesus Christ and has received from him the power to continue his mission. Therefore Christ’s action of freeing man from evil is exercised through the Church and her ordained ministers, appointed by the bishop to carry out the sacred rites intended to deliver men and women from possession by the devil. Exorcism is thus an ancient form of prayer, which the Church uses against the power of the devil.

How do evil spirits operate? Can they actually “possess” a person?

CARDINAL MEDINA ESTEVEZ: Sacred Scripture teaches us that evil spirits operate in different ways: a particular form is diabolical “obsession.” also called diabolical “possession.” But diabolical obsession is not the most frequent way the spirit of darkness exerts his influence. Obsession has sensational features, in which the devil in a certain way takes over the physical powers of the possessed person. However, the devil cannot control the subject’s free will and thus cannot cause him to sin. Still, the physical violence the devil exerts over the obsessed person is an inducement to sin and this is what he seeks.

How can one discern a diabolical possession requiring exorcism?

CARDINAL MEDINA ESTEVEZ: The ritual of exorcism indicates signs, which allow us to reach the prudent conviction that we are dealing with diabolical possession and can perform the solemn rite of exorcism. These signs include: speaking many words in unknown languages or understanding them; revealing distant or hidden things; displaying strength beyond one’s condition, together with a vehement aversion to God, Our Lady, the saints, the cross and sacred images.

Who may perform an exorcism?
We should stress that the diocesan bishop’s authorization is required to perform an exorcism. This authorization can be granted for a specific case or in a general, permanent way to the priest who exercises the ministry of exorcist in the diocese.

Why is the exorcism ritual being revised now?

CARDINAL MEDINA ESTEVEZ: The Roman Ritual contained the instructions and liturgical text for exorcisms in a special chapter, the final chapter, and this chapter was not revised after the Second Vatican Council. The revision has taken 10 years, resulting in the current text approved by the Supreme Pontiff. One more task still remains: the translation of this Ritual into the languages spoken in the various regions. These translations must be precise and faithful to the Latin original, and must be submitted, in accordance with canon law, for the recognitio of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

What is the content of the reformed exorcism ritual?

CARDINAL MEDINA ESTEVEZ: The Ritual we are presenting today contains, first of all, the rite of exorcism properly so-called, to be performed on a possessed person.
This is followed by the prayers to be publicly recited by a priest, with the bishop’s permission, when it has been carefully determined that there is a satanic influence over places, objects or persons, but which has not reached the point of a true and proper possession. Also, there is a collection of prayers to be recited privately by the faithful whenever they have reason to suspect they are undergoing diabolical influence.

There is much skepticism about exorcism because many doubt the existence of the devil and of demons…

CARDINAL MEDINA ESTEVEZ: Exorcism is based on the faith of the Church, which holds that Satan and the other evil spirits exist and that their activity consists in diverting human beings from the way of salvation. Catholic doctrine teaches us that the demons are angels who have fallen because of sin, that they are spiritual beings of great intelligence and power, but I would like to stress that the evil influence of the devil and his followers is usually exercised through deceit and confusion. Just as Jesus is the Truth (cf. John 8:44), so the devil is the liar par excellence. He deceives human beings by making them believe that happiness is found in money, power or carnal desire. He deceives them into thinking that they do not need God, that grace and salvation are unnecessary. He even deceives them by diminishing the sense of sin or even suppressing it altogether, replacing God’s law as the criterion of morality with the habits or conventions of the majority.

If the devil has such intelligence and power, how can human beings hope to stand against his wiles?
The Church is certain of Christ’s final victory and does not let Herself be swayed by fear or pessimism. Nevertheless, she is aware of the action of the Evil One, who seeks to discourage us and to sow confusion. “Be of good cheer,” the Lord says, “I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Exorcism, an important but not the only expression of the struggle against the devil, should be seen in this context. •
“Inside the Vatican”, March 1999, 30-33


Ten Golden Rules: A Key to the Revised Rite of Exorcism

  1. First, the exorcist must be sure he is dealing with a possessed person, not someone with psychological problems.
  2. To do this, he must distinguish possession from superstition. Sometimes people believe they have been affected by the “evil eye” or some other form of black magic. They should not be denied spiritual aid, but no exorcism should be carried out in such cases.
  3. The following are signs of possession: a sudden capacity to speak unknown languages; abnormal physical strength; the disclosure of hidden occurrences or events; and a vehement aversion to God, the Virgin Mary, the saints, sacramental rites and religious images, especially the cross.
  4. In difficult cases, while always respecting the secrecy of the confessional, the exorcist may consult with spiritual guides or Church-recommended physicians and psychiatrists before deciding to perform an exorcism.
  5. In the case of non-Catholics or other unusual situations, the exorcist-priest can leave the final decision to his diocesan bishop, who may also consult outside experts.
  6. The exorcism should, if possible, be carried out with the consent of the possessed person, and with awareness of that person’s individual physical and mental condition.
  7. The exorcism must always be performed as an expression of Catholic faith, and should never give the impression that it is a superstitious or magical event.
  8. At the same time, an exorcism should never turn into a “show” for the faithful. For that reason, media representatives and journalists must not be allowed to attend. The success or failure of an exorcism is not to be announced or published.


  1. Relatives and friends may assist at an exorcism, if the exorcist deems it helpful, since they are able to help with their prayers. The possessed person should pray to God, particularly before the ritual, and strengthen his soul by receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confession and Communion.”
  2. If at all possible, the exorcism should take place in a church, or if not, in a closed-in place, with images of Christ Crucified and of the Mother of God. The exorcist makes the sign of the Cross over the victim’s head, and immediately afterwards speaks the phrase commanding the devil, in Christ’s name, to depart from the body of the possessed.


An Official Vatican Exorcist…

The priest chosen by the Holy See to drive out demons says the worst demons are often our own personalities.

The nuns on the Vatican telephone exchange must often calm down agitated callers who ask for “Pater Davide” (Father David). “No, we can’t connect you. Pater Davide doesn’t take any telephone calls. If you need to see him, please come and wait for him. And very early in the morning is best.”

Where is the Vatican’s official exorcist to be found? The Swiss Guards who patrol the Vatican entrance politely point to the tiny Santa Anna Church, just inside the main Sant ‘Anna Gate, as the headquarters for the “priest who casts out devils.”

Inside and outside the Vatican walls, and especially in the Borgo Pio neighborhood nearby, everyone recognizes the small, elderly priest with wise and sparkling eyes. In fact, the 85-year old Augustinian, Father Davide Falcioni, has been Rector of Santa Anna for more than 30 years and before that Vice-Rector of the church for 13 years. He has been an official exorcist for only six years.

By eight o’clock every morning, at least 30 persons are already waiting, crowded into Pater Davide’s small ante-chamber anxiously anticipating his curative powers. Some are saying the Rosary.

A woman named Pina has come from Naples; her husband has a tumor and she hopes that Pater Davide can “pray it away.” Mirella has brought a basket of food. She wants to present a “freshly-slaughtered ram” from her hometown in the Abruzzi Mountains to Pater Davide, who comes from the same area (Rendinara, near Aquila). “The Pater put my husband back on the right track,” explains Mirella. “He was always cheating on me, but now things are better.”

Pater Davide’s caretaker, Marta, has a hard time keeping back some of the more desperate “visitors,” insisting on immediate access to the priest-exorcist. Her cellular phone rings incessantly. About 40 people come to Pater Davide every day for his help and advice. Many show him photos of relatives with grave illnesses, and ask him to say healing prayers. Pater Davide’s followers trust him completely and say they would “walk through fire” for him.

Here within the Vatican walls, no one will hear screams or see the “possessed” rolling on the ground. Pater Davide makes house calls for realty serious cases.

What qualities are necessary for an official exorcist? Most of all, patience, says Pater Davide. Sometimes he merely gives a blessing and makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the allegedly possessed, who then calm down and leave peacefully for home. Most people are not truly possessed by demons, the priest explains, but rather merely “tempted by the devil.”

Many women who seek Pater Davide’s assistance are suffering from hysteria. Some run from one exorcist to another, or simply want to know their future. These days in Italy there is a big business in fortune telling and spiritist séances, and that, according to Pater Davide, is a serious danger.

The best cure for minor psychological disturbances is a good confession, he adds. For that reason, the impressive cross on Pater Davide’s desk, topped by a silver figure of Christ, is only seldom raised for driving out devils.

Pater Davide believes that others should not be held responsible for our own problems. The “evil eye” and malevolent envy usually exist only in the imagination of those who seek exorcisms. The Vatican exorcist has had excellent results with his motto: “Seek fault in yourself.” He also advises his “patients” to pray to their guardian angels and to take their religious duties, particularly Sunday Mass, very seriously.

Success speaks for itself. According to Marta, Pater Davide boasts a very high percentage of cures. Lately Pater Davide has needed some of his renowned spiritual strength for himself. He is recovering from a long and serious illness and since January has considerably limited the number of devotees he can receive in his little office beside the Sant’ Anna church.


…And an Unofficial One

Despite a ban by the Church hierarchy, this charismatic archbishop-exorcist draws thousands to his faith-healings.




He is a thorn in the side for the Rome Vicariate: the world-famous African faith-healer, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Milingo frequently makes headlines for his “forbidden” Masses and faith-healings. Most recently, in early February 1999, he celebrated a controversial Mass attended by thousands of followers in Rome’s Franciscan church of S. Pietro in Montorio.

What explains the charisma of this 67-year old former Archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia? The answer is simple: his healings. Maria Curti, 55, of Rome, told Inside the Vatican: “For years I could not move my left arm. Yet when Milingo gave his blessing, I felt a hot burning, and my arm was no longer stiff.” Anna Zucca, 56, a physiotherapist from Sardinia, showed us her hands. They looked healthy. “Just a few weeks ago I had a terrible skin rash which would not go away,” she said. “Thanks to Milingo, I can work again.”

Milingo offers faith and hope to the poor who cannot afford expensive medicines, operations abroad, and consultations with expert doctors. Perhaps that is why Pope John Paul II is fond of Milingo, often defending him in private, in spite of the vehement criticisms leveled against him by the Church hierarchy.

Milingo does love big audiences. He enjoys appearing on television, where he frequently sings and dances. He has recorded several money-making CD’s of religious songs and has made successful videos of his faith-healing Masses. To the horror of the Roman Curia, he was even hired by a shipping company one summer as a “facilitator-entertainer” for Mediterranean cruises. The Rome diocese has warned Milingo not to make his exorcisms into “shows.” Does he take the warning seriously?

“I am not a magician,” says the African Archbishop. “And I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I believe that anyone can be made well. It is belief in God and a true desire for forgiveness which heals us.”

Milingo only laughs at African-type practices using cow dung, cockroaches and chicken feathers. He holds that illnesses are caused by evil and diabolical spirits, and that these can be conquered by prayer and the words of the Gospel.

One of Milingo’s favorite prayers goes: “Forgive me, heal me. I am naked and empty before Thee. I wish to begin a new life. Destroy the glance of evil. Free me from all sickness: depression, anxiety, obsession, asthma, cancer, tumors.” During Milingo’s Masses, many faithful enter ecstatic trances. They sob, touch their diseased parts, hold up photos of afflicted relatives, and beseech the archbishop’s healing power. When Mass ends, crowds ask Milingo to bless their oil and water containers; sometimes Milingo and his co-celebrants bless the faithful with holy oil or water. Some spectacular exorcisms have been reported during Milingo’s services. Recently, a young girl, screeching wildly and held back by her parents from beating herself, calmed down completely after Milingo’s prayed over her.

Archbishop Milingo lives in a Vatican-owned building on the Via Porta Angelica, directly across from the Vatican’s main entrance, Porta Sant’ Anna. His door is always besieged by both rich and poor, all suffering from various physical and mental illnesses. Milingo, however, has now been appointed “Special Representative” to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants, and must fulfill his Curial tasks before attending to the many afflicted who beseech his help.

Milingo has no intention of repatriating to Africa, although he constantly receives letters imploring his return. “I am needed here more than in Africa,” he insists. According to the Italian press, the Rome Vicariate, which in July 1966 forbade Milingo to celebrate public liturgies in Roman parishes, is now searching for a compromise with the charismatic Archbishop. It seems that the Vicariate is in touch with the Vatican Secretariat of State to locate an appropriate locale for Milingo to hold his liturgies and faith-healings.

When Inside the Vatican asked Milingo his views on the Vatican’s revised exorcism ritual, he responded with a “No Comment.” In fact, he has a guilty conscience. He has never paid much attention to the regulation that exorcisms must be carried out with the permission of the local bishop.

The Archbishop has since been excommunicated. See:



The New Rite of Exorcism – The Influence of the Evil One

By Father X – Summer 2002, The Latin Mass magazine

In his famous discourse of June 30, 1972, Pope Paul VI said that he sensed “that from somewhere or other, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” Nowhere has this been more evident than in the disastrous revision of the blessings of the Church in De Benedictionibus, the so-called “Book of Blessings”,1 approved in 1984.

In the original Latin this defective book scandalously refuses to bless objects, but only persons.

The example of Christ our Lord in blessing things (e.g., Matthew 14:19; 26:26; Mark 6:41; 8:7; 14:22; Luke 9:16; 24:30) obviously carried no weight with the liturgists who wrote that book.


The official General Introduction to the Book of Blessings informs us: “At times the Church also blesses objects and places connected with human activity or liturgical life, or connected with piety and devotion – but always, however, with a view to the people who use those objects and are engaged in those places” (Praenotanda Generalia, 12). This explanation is dishonest, in that it gives only half a reason for blessing things, and because it conceals the fact that the book of blessings, with a few exceptions, systematically refuses to bless things. It is a book of non-blessings. To take but one example, the “blessing” of holy water outside of Mass contains no actual blessing of the water. The closest thing to it is a prayer to God asking for certain effects by the use of this water. The so-called “Prayer of blessing” (in Latin and English) refrains from using the word “bless” even once, and there is no Sign of the Cross made over the water. The Devil must have laughed when that “Book of Blessings” was issued. The traditional exorcism of water and salt, and all the other Roman Ritual’s traditional prayers against the devil and his influence were almost completely abolished. On three occasions only is a thing blessed. These three exceptions in Latin are for meals, church bells and cemeteries. In the American edition, the same things appear; also chalice and paten (found in Latin in the Pontifical); also two other places in which the alternative rite (not in the Latin) does bless an object.2 (The blessing of holy water within Mass does contain an actual blessing of the water.)

The treatment of blessings in the Catechism (#1671-2) speaks of blessings of persons, places and things. But this is belied, as I have said, by the Latin text of De Benedictionibus, the “Book of Blessings”, so called. When the definitive Latin text of the Catechism was issued in 1997, with the paragraph saying that the Church blesses things, a priest friend wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger pointing out that the lex orandi and the lex credendi were at odds, and asked a question: “Can we expect a revision of the Book of Blessings in the light of the definitive text of the Catechism?” Of course, this is a reversal of the traditional practice and view of things: one is meant to pass from the Church’s practice to a formulation of the Church’s faith. But, if it will do good, the reversal has become a necessity.

What lies behind this change to the rites of blessings? Clearly, a loss of sense of the power of the priesthood – a desire, even, to overthrow sacerdotal mediation, to reduce the priest from an instrument of Christ, clothed with the authority of Jesus Christ, to a mere prayer, on the same level as that of any lay person. The retention of the title “Blessings” means nothing: as we know, All Souls’ Day is No Souls’ Day, even in the original Latin, where the word for soul (anima) has been suppressed in the prayers of November 2.3


The New Rite of Exorcism
The same mentality has been at work in the revised Rite of Exorcism, promulgated in January 1999, De Exorcismis et Supplicationibus Quibusdam.4 This was intimated by the defective definition of exorcism in the 1992 Catechism at #1673, unchanged in the Latin text that came out five years later: “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism.”

Let us read that definition again, with emphases added: “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism.” Notice the use of the word asks, and the use of the passive voice. The text says that the Church asks for this person or object to be protected. Asks whom? For protection by whom? Obviously, God. So, according to this, an exorcism is: asking God to free someone from the devil. But, despite what this text implies, an exorcism is not a prayer to God; exorcism is a command issued to the Devil in the name of God. The very word exorcism tells you that – exorcizo, I adjure. To adjure, as the Oxford Dictionary defines it, is to charge or entreat someone solemnly, as if under oath, or under the penalty of a curse. No one can adjure God, but a minister of God can adjure a demon. The Ritual for Exorcism of 1614 (which until January 1999 was the only officially published text for Latin rite exorcists) does contain prefatory prayers to God to ask that a person be delivered – but then under the subheading of “Exorcism” itself, the exorcist orders the demon to depart. “Exorcizo te, immundissime spiritus … in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi” – “I exorcize you, unclean spirit…in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He uses other imperatives addressed to the demon, such as recede, da locum, exi, discede (withdraw, give way, exit, depart).

The new ritual scandalously gives the priest a choice of two forms of exorcism, which it calls “deprecatory” and “imperative.” “Deprecatory” means a prayer to God, in this case to ask Him to deliver the demoniac. “Imperative” means a command issued to the demon in the name of God to depart. The imperative formula is a real exorcism, but the deprecatory form is not an exorcism at all. A prayer is a request to God; an exorcism is a command to a demon. The so-called “deprecatory exorcism” is simply a petitionary prayer to God. It is not an exorcism. (If it is an exorcism, then the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from evil”, would also be an exorcism!)

As with the so-called “exorcism” in the modern Rite of Baptism, simply placing the sub-heading Exorcism does not make what follows an exorcism. What is extremely worrying is that, according to the new rubrics, the deprecatory form must always be used, but the second form, the imperative, is an optional extra.


What lies behind this change? The same denigration of the priesthood described above. It is a true Protestantization: the reduction of the ordained priest to the level of the common priesthood. It is the fruit of embarrassment about the visible priesthood. It is the mentality that is at work when a priest says at the end of Mass: “May Almighty God bless us….” When a priest does that, he is losing his identity, and is uncomfortable about the fact that he is different, and that he can confer blessings.

Here is an extract from one of the new deprecatory formulas:

O God, creator and defender of the human race, look upon this Your servant, whom You did make in Your own image and call to share in Your glory…. Hear, holy Father, the cry of the Church suppliant: let not Your child be possessed by the father of lies; let not Your servant, whom Christ has redeemed by His blood, to be held in the captivity of the devil; let not a temple of Your Spirit be inhabited by the unclean spirit. Hear, O merciful God, the prayers of the blessed Virgin Mary, whose Son, dying upon the Cross, crushed the head of the serpent of old and entrusted all men to His mother as sons: let the light of truth shine upon this Your servant, let the joy of peace enter into him, let the Spirit of holiness possess him, and by inhabiting him render him serene and pure. Hear, O Lord, the supplication of blessed Michael the Archangel and of all the Angels ministering unto You: God of hosts, drive back the force of the devil; God of truth and favor, remove his deceitful wiles; God of freedom and grace, break the bonds of iniquity. Hear, O God, lover of man’s salvation…free this servant from every alien power…

As we can see, this is merely a petitionary prayer.


Here is an extract from one of the new imperative formulas:

I adjure you, Satan, enemy of man’s salvation, acknowledge the justice and goodness of God the Father, who by just judgment has damned your pride and envy: depart from this servant of God, whom the Lord has made in His own image, adorned with His gifts, and has mercifully adopted as His child. I adjure you, Satan, prince of this world, acknowledge the power and strength of Jesus Christ, who conquered you in the desert, overcame you in the garden, despoiled you on the Cross, and rising from the tomb, transferred your victims to the kingdom of light.… I adjure you, Satan, deceiver of the human race, acknowledge the Spirit of truth and grace, who repels your snares and confounds your lies: depart from this creature of God, whom He has signed by the heavenly seal; withdraw from this man whom God has made a holy temple by a spiritual unction. Leave, therefore, Satan, in the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy + Spirit; leave through the faith and the prayer of the Church; leave through the sign of the holy Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

As one can see, this optional formula is an exorcism proper. In the former rite, there were prayers to God asking for deliverance, but they were always followed by exorcisms proper.


Changes to the Old Directives to the Exorcist
Other things are of great concern in this new ritual. The Ritual of 1614 contains 21 directives for the exorcist, a magnificent distillation of the accumulated wisdom and experience of the Church. The new preface never gets to the point about the manner of proceeding. The former directives 4-6, 8-9, 13-17, 19-20 have no equivalent in the new ritual’s preface. This means that most (12) of the 21 are deleted. The following former directives have no parallel in the new introduction:

4. In order to better test these signs [of possession], the priest should question the demoniac after one or other exorcism as to what he feels in his mind or body, so that in this way he can also learn which words more greatly disturb the demons, so as then to bear down on them and repeat them all the more.

5. The priest should stay alert for tricks and deceptions that demons use to mislead the exorcist. For they will give false answers as much as possible, and show themselves only with difficulty, in order that the exorcist at length become worn out and give up the exorcism; or the ill person might appear not to be harassed by the devil.

6. Occasionally, after they appear, the demons hide and leave the body almost free of all disturbance, so that the ill person might think he is completely freed. But the exorcist should not stop until he sees the signs of liberation.

8. Some demons point out an act of witchcraft which has been done [to cause possession], by whom it was done, and the way to undo it; but the demoniac should be careful not to have recourse to sorcerers, fortune-tellers, or other such persons, on this account, but should go to the ministers of the Church rather than use any superstitious or otherwise illicit means.

9. Sometimes the devil grants the sick person relief and permits him to receive the Holy Eucharist so that he might seem to have departed. In short, there are countless devices and tricks of the devil to deceive man, which the exorcist should beware, lest he be deceived.

13. …Also relics of Saints, where available, safely and properly fastened and covered, may be reverently applied to the chest or head of the possessed. Care must be taken that the sacred objects are not improperly handled or harmed in any way by the demon.


Because of danger of irreverence, the Holy Eucharist should not be placed upon the head of the possessed person or elsewhere on his body.

14. The exorcist should not engage in a great deal of talking or ask unnecessary or curious questions, especially concerning future or secret matters not pertaining to his task. But he should command the unclean spirit to be silent, except to answer his questions. Nor should he believe the demon if he pretends to be the soul of some Saint or deceased person or a good Angel.

15. However, there are necessary questions, for example, concerning the number and names of the possessing spirits, the time and reason they entered, and other things of this sort. The exorcist should restrain or spurn the rest of the devil’s nonsense, laughter and foolishness, and advise those present, who should be few, that they must not pay attention to these things nor question the possessed person, but rather humbly and earnestly pray to God for him.

16. The exorcist should read and carry out the exorcism with strength, authority, great faith, humility and fervor, and when he sees that the spirit is especially tormented, then he should persist and bear down all the more. And whenever he sees that the possessed person is being disturbed in some part of his body, or stung, or that a swelling appears somewhere, he should make the sign of the cross on that area and sprinkle it with holy water which should be on hand.

17. He is also to observe at which words the demons tremble more, and then he should repeat these words more often. When he reaches the threatening words, he should say them repeatedly, always increasing the punishment. If he sees that he is making progress, he should continue for two, three, or four hours, or even longer if he can, until he obtains the victory.

19. If he is exorcising a woman, he should always have persons of integrity with him to hold the possessed person while she is agitated by the demon. These people should be close relatives of the suffering woman if possible. Mindful of decency, the exorcist should be careful not to say or do anything which could be an occasion of an evil thought to himself or the others.

20. While he is exorcising, he should use the words of Sacred Scripture rather than his own or someone else’s. He should command the demon to tell him if he is held in that body because of some magic, or sorcerer’s signs or devices. If the possessed person has consumed things of this sort orally, he should vomit them up. If they are elsewhere outside his body, he should reveal where they are, and once found, they are to be burned. The possessed person should also be advised to make known all his temptations to the exorcist.

These crucial directives, followed by exorcists for 385 years, have no parallel in the new introduction.

The preface explicitly says that lay people may not say any of the prayers of exorcism, and repeats the old directive that exorcism is not to be conducted in public. It adds the rule (a welcome addition) that exorcism is not to be open to any communications media; and the exorcist and any assistants are not to speak publicly before or after the exorcism about what took place.


Other Changes
This article is not meant to be an exhaustive analysis of the new rite of exorcism. Many of the prayers and rites are perfectly acceptable in themselves: the new rite contains a prefatory prayer, blessing of holy water, Litany of the Saints, a Psalm, a Gospel reading (the Prologue of St. John, or a text in which Christ rejects the devil or expels demons), imposition of hands over the demoniac, Profession of Faith or renewal of Baptismal promises with renunciation of Satan; the Our Father, the Sign of the Cross on the possessed person; and, after deliverance, the Magnificat followed by other prayers and a blessing.

Laughable, however, are the references, in the prefatory decree, to Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II – as if the Council had called for a revised, updated exorcism to allow full conscious participation by the laity! The only conceivable allusion to exorcism in the Vatican II decree on the liturgy is where it says the sacramentals will be revised – but the clear proof that the bishops never had exorcism in mind is seen from the reason given for revision. The one and only relevant sentence here says: “The sacramentals are to be revised, account being taken of the primary principle of the intelligent, actual and easy participation of the faithful” (art. 79). Since exorcism, new and old, must be conducted away from the faithful, the principle of intelligent, actual and easy participation is irrelevant. Once again, the liturgical decree is cited as the basis for something never intended.

Dishonest is the use of the word instauratum (restored) in the subheading of the title page: the new exorcism ritual is in no way a restoration. It is a fabrication. The Latin should have read fabricatum or innovatum or maybe concoctum!


The preface provides for translation of the rite into myriad languages – but what on earth for? If an exorcist does not know enough Latin to perform the prayers in Latin, he should not be appointed to the office. The preface at no. 13 quotes canon 1172 saying that an exorcist should be, inter alia, “outstanding in knowledge” – but how could that be said of a priest who cannot say or follow very simple texts and prayers in Latin? As well, given charismatics’ predilection for exorcisms and “deliverance”, it is highly imprudent to make the Church’s official exorcism prayers available to all and sundry in every language, when only a tiny proportion of priests need to use them.


With the promulgation of the new exorcism ritual, the Athanasian Creed has now officially disappeared from any Catholic ritual. In the 1960s, its frequency was reduced in the Breviary and finally it was abolished from it. The rite of exorcism was the last surviving ceremony in the Church where the Athanasian Creed was recited. Now it is gone. This is a serious loss, and there was no good reason why it was replaced by a choice between the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Another innovation, but a welcome one, in the new Ritual for Exorcism, is an exorcism to be used for a place or thing, something not specifically present in the former Ritual. (Herbert Thurston S.J.’s book Ghosts and Poltergeists5 has an appendix containing his English translation of an “Exorcism of a house troubled by an evil spirit,” which he found in the Appendix of an edition of the Roman Ritual printed in Madrid in 1631, published with the authorization of the Inquisition. Father Thurston evidently thought this was a worthwhile ceremony to have.) This new rite for a place or thing also requires permission from the bishop before being used. Again, however, in this ceremony, the imperative formula, the true exorcism, is to be added, only if the priest wishes.


Well-informed people may wonder how it is that such innovative and defective things can be promulgated by someone like Cardinal Medina Estevez. They wonder, too, how Cardinal Ratzinger can let certain things go on, and not reverse them by a new document, and so on. It is important to remember that the Sacred Congregations are composed of voting members, all of whom are Bishops. They have plenty of advisers and experts, but only Bishops are actual members. When the time comes for handing down a public decision, promulgating a document, and the like, these things are put to a vote of the members. Cardinal Ratzinger does not have single-handed and complete control over the Holy Office, which has 21 bishop members (cf. Annuario Pontificio). The same applies to the other Cardinal Prefects. Suppose Cardinal Medina Estevez wanted to abolish some banal Swiss eucharistic prayers, for example. He does not have the authority to draw up a decree abolishing them single-handedly. The 34 bishop members of the Congregation for Divine Worship would have to vote on it. Possibly, certain decisions require a two-thirds majority – who knows?

According to the president of the International Association of Exorcists, Father Gabriele Amorth (30 Days, no. 6, 2001), when the new rite was ready, Cardinals Ratzinger and Medina sought to add a provision in its introduction authorizing the use of the previous rite. This move of theirs was rejected, so Cardinal Medina issued a separate notification that an exorcist can use the old rite if his bishop asks the Congregation for Divine Worship, who will “gladly provide the requested permission” (Notitiae, vol. 35, 1999).

The new rite will one day itself be subject to a true restoration, which will restore to the obligatory texts of the exorcist the true nature of his office.


1 Editio typica, Vatican City 1985; Book of Blessings (American edition 1989).

2 Meals, church bells and cemeteries: pp.300-318, 400, 429. In the American edition, same things at pp. 439-458, 565, 609; also p.589 for chalice and paten (found in Latin in the Pontifical); also p.624 (article of devotion) and p.634 (rosary) where the alternative rite (not in the Latin) does bless an object.

3 The word anima is suppressed in all of the funerals and Masses for the dead, except one: two of the proper prayers in the Mass, “Pro defunctis fratribus, propinquis et benefactoribus,” Missale Romanum 1975, pp.909-10.


5 Edited after his death by Fr Crehan S.J. and reprinted in 1998 by Roman Catholic Books, USA.

Father X holds an STL in Dogmatic Theology. 



The Roman Ritual  



That there is a world of demons is a teaching of revealed religion which is perfectly clear to all who know Sacred Scripture and respect and accept its word as inspired of God. It is part of the whole Christian-Judaeo heritage. There are some who hold that even if revelation were not so absolute, an inference of the existence of evil spirits can be drawn from the magnitude of evil in the world. They say that human malice and depravity even at its worst is not sufficient to account for it, and it must be concluded that the devil is a real person and that his sway is tremendous. As Franqois Mauriac writes in his life of St. Margaret of Cortona: “Evil is Someone, Someone who is multiple and whose name is legion. . . . It is one thing to be in the realm of the demons, as we all are when we have lost the state of grace, and quite another to be held and surrounded, literally possessed by him.”


One gets the impression that the teaching about the devil’s existence is not a particularly popular one in our time. C. S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters says something to the effect that if the little inexperienced novice devils, about to start out on their work of seducing men, can convince men that the devil does not exist, then half the battle is already won.

The first book of the Holy Bible recounts the seduction of Adam and Eve by the Prince of Darkness; but it is to the last book that we must go for his origin. “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels had to fight the dragon; the dragon fought, and so did his angels. But they were defeated, and a place was no longer found for them in heaven. That huge dragon, the ancient serpent, was hurled down, he who is called the devil and Satan, he who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled down to death, and his angels were hurled down with him.” (Apocalypse 12.7-9)

Christ our Lord overcame Satan on the cross, and ever since the latter’s empire is shaken. Man is delivered from the power of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Yet the devil is not completely vanquished or trodden underfoot once for all, and the warfare against him is carried out by Christ and His Church until the end of time. Therefore, St. Paul is prompted to admonish us: “Put on all the armor that God has forged, that you may be able to make a stand against the devil’s cunning tricks. Our wrestling is not against weak human nature, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against those that rule the world of darkness, the wicked spirits that belong to an order higher than ours… With all this take up the shield of faith, with which you will be enabled to put out all the flaming arrows of the wicked enemy.” (Ephesians 6.12-16)

Against these unclean spirits the Church uses as her weapons prayers, blessings, holy water, and other sacramentals to combat the ordinary power that the former wield over men. But apart from this ordinary and general power that Providence allows Satan there is also a special and terrible satanic influence called possession — the domination by the demon over man’s bodily organs and his lower spiritual faculties. In later Christian times the term obsession is used instead of possession, the former connoting a lesser kind of demonic disturbance. That Christ reckoned with this satanic power in the same way that the Church has throughout her centuries is evident from the New Testament; see for example Matthew 9.32-34, Luke 8.2, Mark 9.13 ff.

To be possessed can mean that Satan has gained mastery over the will so devastatingly that sinfulness passes beyond ordinary depravity in the world, and its cause must be sought in a power above the order of nature. To be possessed can mean that Satan has beclouded the intellect, so that the light of faith cannot illuminate it. To be possessed can mean that Satan has befuddled a person’s reason; in fact, simple and superstitious folk have wrongly made lunacy synonymous with diabolical infestation. In some instances of possession recounted in the New Testament, molestation by the devil is manifested in various disturbances of the human body itself, where he has gained control over a man’s sight, hearing, speech, or the physical organism in general. (Mark 5:1 ff)

Christ handed down to the Church the power He once exercised over demons. The early Christians were deeply influenced by what they had learned of their Master’s dealing with evil spirits, and there was on their part frequent use of the charismatic gifts of healing the sick and driving out devils. But the prayers and forms used for exorcism in the first centuries have not come down to us, outside the ones used in baptism. Exorcism became part of the baptismal rite somewhere around 200 A.D. Thus the ancient liturgical records which date from the third century, those dealing with baptism, give us the early Christians’ belief about Satan and his intervention in the affairs of man. In the devil’s hatred for God he .turned on man, who is made in God’s image. In consequence of original sin men are no longer temples of the Holy Spirit but rather the habitations of the demon. Not too much distinction is made between the possessed and the unbaptized. Isidore of Seville puts both on the same level, and says that exorcism is the ceremony of banishing the most wicked influence of the devil from catechumens and possessed alike. (Dictionnaire D’ Archéologie Chrétienne et de Liturgie, V, Pt. 1, 963 if.)

It is difficult to fix precisely the time of origin of a special rite for exorcism. The evidence would indicate that in the early Church acts of exorcism consisted mainly in the sign of the cross, invoking the name of Jesus, and renunciations of Satan and adjurations and threats uttered against him. But later on, especially in the Latin Church, the rites of exorcism become more and more numerous, until in the highly imaginative Middle Ages there is actually a profusion of them. To this period we must attribute beliefs and practices which are superstitious to an extreme. Devils are believed to exist in the guise of certain material bodies. Demonic possession is confounded with epilepsy and other mental or psychic disorders. Rituals of this time prescribe that the subject remain in the presence of the exorcist throughout the period of exorcism, that he observe a strict fast and limit his diet to blessed water, salt, and vegetables, that he wear new clothes, that he abstain from the marital act. No less complicated are the injunctions for the exorcist. And by the time we come to the fourteenth century magical practices have been introduced into the ceremonies.

No doubt the present rite for exorcism will undergo improvement and revision along with the general revision of the liturgical books recommended by Vatican Council II. But compared to former times the rite as given in the Roman Ritual today is characterized by great sobriety. Some minds might still discern traces of a certain naiveté, yet at any rate it has been purged of the unfortunate accretions of a period ruled much more by human credulity than by the unadulterated doctrine of the Church.


No longer, for example, does the official text afford any grounds for the erroneous notion that diabolical possession is necessarily a divine retribution visited upon a grievous sinner. God allows this terrible evil in His wisdom without the afflicted person being necessarily at fault. It is one thing to have fallen into the slavery of sin or to be afflicted with a bodily or mental infirmity, and quite another to have the devil enter into a man and take possession of him.

The general rules for exorcism that follow are a clear indication that we have come a long way from the superstitious notions that prevailed in the era of the Middle Ages. Noteworthy among these rules are the ones that direct that the parties concerned should have recourse to the holy sacraments, and that the sacred words of Holy Writ should be employed rather than any forms devised by the exorcist or someone else. The instructions given below indicate that the Church has carefully guarded the extraordinary power over Satan committed to her by Christ, and that Catholic exorcism is poles removed from any form of dabbling in the spirit world which springs from human chicanery or malice.





  1. A priest — one who is expressly and particularly authorized by the Ordinary — when he intends to perform an exorcism over persons tormented by the devil, must be properly distinguished for his piety, prudence, and integrity of life. He should fulfill this devout undertaking in all constancy and humility, being utterly immune to any striving for human aggrandizement, and relying, not on his own, but on the divine power. Moreover, he ought to be of mature years, and revered not alone for his office but for his moral qualities.
  2. In order to exercise his ministry rightly, he should resort to a great deal more study of the matter (which has to be passed over here for the sake of brevity), by examining approved authors and cases from experience; on the other hand, let him carefully observe the few more important points enumerated here.
  3. Especially, he should not believe too readily that a person is possessed by an evil spirit; but he ought to ascertain the signs by which a person possessed can be distinguished from one who is suffering from some illness, especially one of a psychological nature. (From the emended text of the 1952 edition.) Signs of possession may be the following: ability to speak with some facility in a strange tongue or to understand it when spoken by another; the faculty of divulging future and hidden events; display of powers which are beyond the subject’s age and natural condition; and various other indications which, when taken together as a whole, build up the evidence.
  4. In order to understand these matters better, let him inquire of the person possessed, following one or the other act of exorcism, what the latter experienced in his body or soul while the exorcism was being performed, and to learn also what particular words in the form had a more intimidating effect upon the devil, so that hereafter these words may be employed with greater stress and frequency.
  5. He will be on his guard against the arts and subterfuges which the evil spirits are wont to use in deceiving the exorcist. For oftentimes they give deceptive answers and make it difficult to understand them, so that the exorcist might tire and give up, or so it might appear that the afflicted one is in no wise possessed by the devil.
  6. Once in a while, after they are already recognized, they conceal themselves and leave the body practically free from every molestation, so that the victim believes himself completely delivered. Yet the exorcist may not desist until he sees the signs of deliverance.
  7. At times, moreover, the evil spirits place whatever obstacles they can in the way, so that the patient may not submit to exorcism, or they try to convince him that his affliction is a natural one. Meanwhile, during the exorcism they cause him to fall asleep, and dangle some illusion before him, while they seclude themselves, so that the afflicted one appears to be freed.
  8. Some reveal a crime which has been committed and the perpetrators thereof, as well as the means of putting an end to it. Yet the afflicted person must beware of having recourse on this account to sorcerers or necromancers or to any parties except the ministers of the Church, or of making use of any superstitious or forbidden practice.


  1. Sometimes the devil will leave the possessed person in peace `and even allow him to receive the holy Eucharist, to make it appear that he has departed. In fact, the arts and frauds of the evil one for deceiving a man are innumerable. For this reason the exorcist must be on his guard not to fall into this trap.
  2. Therefore, he will be mindful of the words of our Lord (Mt 17.20), to the effect that there is a certain type of evil spirit who cannot be driven out except by prayer and fasting. Therefore, let him avail himself of these two means above all for imploring the divine assistance in expelling demons, after the example of the holy fathers; and not only himself, but let him induce others, as far as possible, to do the same.
  3. If it can be done conveniently the possessed person should be led to church or to some other sacred and worthy place, where the exorcism will be held, away from the crowd. But if the person is ill, or for any valid reason, the exorcism may take place in a private home.
  4. The subject, if in good mental and physical health, should be exhorted to implore God’s help, to fast, and to fortify himself by frequent reception of penance and Holy Communion, at the discretion of the priest. And in the course of the exorcism he should be fully recollected, with his intention fixed on God, whom he should entreat with firm faith and in all humility. And if he is all the more grievously tormented, he ought to bear this patiently, never doubting the divine assistance.
  5. He ought to have a crucifix at hand or somewhere in sight. If relics of the saints are available, they are to be applied in a reverent way to the breast or the head of the person possessed (the relics must be properly and securely encased and covered). One will see to it that these sacred objects are not treated improperly or that no injury is done them by the evil spirit. However, one should not hold the holy Eucharist over the head of the person or in any way apply it to his body, owing to the danger of desecration.
  6. The exorcist must not digress into senseless prattle nor ask superfluous questions or such as are prompted by curiosity, particularly if they pertain to future and hidden matters, all of which have nothing to do with his office. Instead, he will bid the unclean spirit keep silence and answer only when asked. Neither ought he to give any credence to the devil if the latter maintains that he is the spirit of some saint or of a deceased party, or even claims to be a good angel.
  7. But necessary questions are, for example: the number and name of the spirits inhabiting the patient, the time when they entered into him, the cause thereof, and the like. As for all jesting, laughing, and nonsense on the part of the evil spirit — the exorcist should prevent it or contemn it, and he will exhort the bystanders (whose number must be very limited) to pay no attention to such goings on; neither are they to put any question to the subject. Rather they should intercede for him to God in all humility and urgency.
  8. Let the priest pronounce the exorcism in a commanding and authoritative voice and at the same time with great confidence, humility, and fervor; and when he sees that the spirit is sorely vexed, and then he oppresses and threatens all the more. If he notices that the person afflicted is experiencing a disturbance in some part of his body or an acute pain or a swelling appears in some part, he traces the sign of the cross over that place and sprinkles it with holy water, which he must have at hand for this purpose.
  9. He will pay attention as to what words in particular cause the evil spirits to tremble, repeating them the more frequently. And when he comes to a threatening expression, he recurs to it again and again, always increasing the punishment. If he perceives that he is making progress, let him persist for two, three, four hours, and longer if he can, until victory is attained.
  10. The exorcist should guard against giving or recommending any medicine to the patient, but should leave this care to physicians.
  11. While performing the exorcism over a woman, he ought always to have assisting him several women of good repute, who will hold on to the person when she is harassed by the evil spirit. These assistants ought if possible to be close relatives of the subject, and for the sake of decency the exorcist will avoid saying or doing anything which might prove an occasion of evil thoughts to himself or to the others.


  1. During the exorcism he shall preferably employ words from Holy Writ, rather than forms of his own or of someone else. He shall, moreover, command the devil to tell whether he is detained in that body by necromancy, by evil signs or amulets; and if the one possessed has taken the latter by mouth, he should be made to vomit them; if he has them concealed on his person, he should expose them; and when discovered they must be burned. Moreover, the person should be exhorted to reveal all his temptations to the exorcist.
  2. Finally, after the possessed one has been freed, let him be admonished to guard himself carefully against falling into sin, so as to afford no opportunity to the evil spirit of returning, lest the last state of that man become worse than the former.



  1. The priest delegated by the Ordinary to perform this office should first go to confession or at least elicit an act of contrition, and, if convenient, offer the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and implore God’s help in other fervent prayers. He vests in surplice and purple stole. Having before him the person possessed (who should be bound if there is any danger), he traces the sign of the cross over him, over himself, and the bystanders, and then sprinkles all of them with holy water. After this he kneels and says the Litany of the Saints (see p. 330), exclusive of the prayers which follow it. All present are to make the responses.


    The Litany of the Saints is used in ordination, Forty Hours’, processions, and other occasions. Both the Roman Ritual and the Roman Pontifical direct that the first three invocations be repeated. The music for this litany is given in the music supplement. The invocations are sung (or recited) by the chanters or the priest; the responses by all.

    P: Lord, have mercy.
    All: Lord, have mercy.

    P: Christ, have mercy.
    All: Christ, have mercy.

    P: Lord, have mercy.
    All: Lord, have mercy.

    P: Christ, hear us.
    All: Christ, graciously hear us.

    P: God, the Father in heaven.
    All: Have mercy on us.

    P: God, the Son, Redeemer of the world.
    All: Have mercy on us.

    P: God, the Holy Spirit.
    All: Have mercy on us.

    P: Holy Trinity, one God.
    All: Have mercy on us.

    Holy Mary, pray for us,*
    *After each invocation: “Pray for us.”

    Holy Mother of God,
    Holy Virgin of virgins,
    St. Michael,
    St. Gabriel,

    St. Raphael,
    All holy angels and archangels,
    All holy orders of blessed spirits,
    St. John the Baptist,
    St. Joseph,
    All holy patriarchs and prophets,
    St. Peter,
    St. Paul,
    St. Andrew,
    St. James,
    St. John,
    St. Thomas,
    St. James,
    St. Philip,
    St. Bartholomew,
    St. Matthew,
    St. Simon,
    St. Thaddeus,
    St. Matthias,
    St. Barnabas,
    St. Luke,
    St. Mark,
    All holy apostles and evangelists,
    All holy disciples of the Lord,
    All holy Innocents,
    St. Stephen,
    St. Lawrence,
    St. Vincent,
    SS. Fabian and Sebastian,
    SS. John and Paul,
    SS. Cosmas and Damian,
    SS. Gervase and Protase,
    All holy martyrs,
    St. Sylvester,
    St. Gregory,
    St. Ambrose,
    St. Augustine,
    St. Jerome,
    St. Martin,
    St. Nicholas,
    All holy bishops and confessors,
    All holy doctors,
    St. Anthony,
    St. Benedict,
    St. Bernard,
    St. Dominic,
    St. Francis,
    All holy priests and levites,
    All holy monks and hermits,
    St. Mary Magdalen,
    St. Agatha,
    St. Lucy,
    St. Agnes,
    St. Cecilia,
    St. Catherine,
    St. Anastasia,
    All holy virgins and widows,

    P: All holy saints of God,
    All: Intercede for us.


    P: Be merciful,
    All: Spare us, 0 Lord.

    P: Be merciful,
    All: Graciously hear us, 0 Lord.

    From all evil, deliver us, 0 Lord.*

    *After each invocation: “Deliver us, 0 Lord.”

    From all sin,
    From your wrath,
    From sudden and unprovided death,
    From the snares of the devil,
    From anger, hatred, and all ill will,
    From all lewdness,
    From lightning and tempest,
    From the scourge of earthquakes,
    From plague, famine, and war,
    From everlasting death,
    By the mystery of your holy incarnation,
    By your coming,
    By your birth,
    By your baptism and holy fasting,
    By your cross and passion,
    By your death and burial,
    By your holy resurrection,
    By your wondrous ascension,
    By the coming of the Holy,
    Spirit, the Advocate,
    On the day of judgment,

    P: We sinners,
    All: We beg you to hear us.*

    *After each invocation: “We beg you to hear us.”

    That you spare us,
    That you pardon us,
    That you bring us to true penance,
    That you govern and preserve your holy Church,
    That you preserve our Holy Father and all ranks in the Church in holy religion,

    That you humble the enemies of holy Church,
    That you give peace and true concord to all Christian rulers.
    That you give peace and unity to the whole Christian world,
    That you restore to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from the truth, and lead all unbelievers to the light of the Gospel,

    That you confirm and preserve us in your holy service,
    That you lift up our minds to heavenly desires,
    That you grant everlasting blessings to all our benefactors,
    That you deliver our souls and the souls of our brethren, relatives, and benefactors from everlasting damnation,

    That you give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
    That you grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
    That you graciously hear us, Son of God,

    At the end of the litany he (the priest) adds the following:


    P: Antiphon:  Do not keep in mind, 0 Lord, our offenses or those of our parents, nor take vengeance on our sins.

    P: Our Father the rest inaudibly until

    P: And lead us not into temptation.
    All: But deliver us from evil.

    Psalm 53

    P: God, by your name save me, * and by your might defend my cause.
    All: God, hear my prayer; * hearken to the words of my mouth.

    P: For haughty men have risen up against me, and fierce men seek my life; * they set not God before their eyes.

    All: See, God is my helper; * the Lord sustains my life.

    P: Turn back the evil upon my foes; * in your faithfulness destroy them.
    All: Freely will I offer you sacrifice; * I will praise your name, Lord, for its goodness,

    P: Because from all distress you have rescued me, * and my eyes look down upon my enemies.
    All: Glory be to the Father.

    P: As it was in the beginning.

    After the psalm the priest continues:

    P: Save your servant.
    All: Who trusts in you, my God.

    P: Let him (her) find in you, Lord, a fortified tower.
    All: In the face of the enemy.

    P: Let the enemy have no power over him (her).
    All: And the son of iniquity be powerless to harm him (her).

    P: Lord, send him (her) aid from your holy place.
    All: And watch over him (her) from Sion.

    P: Lord, heed my prayer.
    All: And let my cry be heard by you.

    P: The Lord be with you.
    All: May He also be with you.

    Let us pray.
    God, whose nature is ever merciful and forgiving, accept our prayer that this servant of yours, bound by the fetters of sin, may be pardoned by your loving kindness.

    Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who once and for all consigned that fallen and apostate tyrant to the flames of hell, who sent your only-begotten Son into the world to crush that roaring lion; hasten to our call for help and snatch from ruination and from the clutches of the noonday devil this human being made in your image and likeness. Strike terror, Lord, into the beast now laying waste your vineyard. Fill your servants with courage to fight manfully against that reprobate dragon, lest he despise those who put their trust in you, and say with Pharaoh of old: “I know not God, nor will I set Israel free.” Let your mighty hand cast him out of your servant, N., +
    so he may no longer hold captive this person whom it pleased you to make in your image, and to redeem through your Son; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
    All: Amen.

  2. Then he commands the demon as follows:


I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this servant of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, by the coming of our Lord for judgment, that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure. I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.

The priest lays his hand on the head of the sick person, saying:

They shall lay their hands upon the sick and all will be well with them. May Jesus, Son of Mary, Lord and Savior of the world, through the merits and intercession of His holy apostles Peter and Paul and all His saints, show you favor and mercy.
All: Amen.

  1. Next he reads over the possessed person these selections from the Gospel, or at least one of them.

    P: The Lord be with you.
    All: May He also be with you.

    P: The beginning of the holy Gospel according to St. John.
    All: Glory be to you, 0 Lord.

    A Lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. John

    John 1.1-14

As he says these opening words he signs himself and the possessed on the brow, lips, and breast.

When time began, the Word was there, and the Word was face to face with God, and the Word was God. This Word, when time began, was face to face with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him there came to be not one thing that has come to be. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not lay hold of it. There came upon the scene a man, a messenger from God, whose name was John. This man came to give testimony to testify in behalf of the light that all might believe through him. He was not himself the light; he only was to testify in behalf of the light. Meanwhile the true light, which illumines every man, was making its entrance into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not acknowledge Him. He came into His home, and His own people did not welcome Him. But to as many as welcomed Him He gave the power to become children of God those who believe in His name; who were born not of blood, or of carnal desire, or of man’s will; no, they were born of God. (Genuflect here.) And the Word became man and lived among us; and we have looked upon His glory such a glory as befits the Father’s only-begotten Son full of grace and truth!
All: Thanks be to God.

25. Lastly he blesses the sick person, saying:

May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you forever.
All: Amen.

Then he sprinkles the person with holy water.

A Lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. Mark

Mark 16.15-18

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to all creation. He that believes and is baptized will be saved; he that does not believe will be condemned. And in the way of proofs of their claims, the following will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will take up serpents in their hands, and if they drink something deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and these will recover.”

A Lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 10.17-20

At that time the seventy-two returned in high spirits. “Master,” they said, “even the demons are subject to us because we use your name!” “Yes,” He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall like lightning that flashes from heaven. But mind: it is I that have given you the power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and break the dominion of the enemy everywhere; nothing at all can injure you. Just the same, do not rejoice in the fact that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice in the fact that your names are engraved in heaven.”

A Lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 11.14-22

At that time Jesus was driving out a demon, and this particular demon was dumb. The demon was driven out, the dumb man spoke, and the crowds were enraptured. But some among the people remarked: “He is a tool of Beelzebul, and that is how he drives out demons!” Another group, intending to test Him, demanded of Him a proof of His claims, to be shown in the sky. He knew their inmost thoughts. “Any kingdom torn by civil strife,” He said to them, “is laid in ruins; and house tumbles upon house. So, too, if Satan is in revolt against himself, how can his kingdom last, since you say that I drive out demons as a tool of Beelzebul. And furthermore: if I drive out demons as a tool of Beelzebul, whose tools are your pupils when they do the driving out? Therefore, judged by them, you must stand condemned. But, if, on the contrary, I drive out demons by the finger of God, then, evidently the kingdom of God has by this time made its way to you. As long as a mighty lord in full armor guards his premises, he is in peaceful possession of his property; but should one mightier than he attack and overcome him, he will strip him of his armor, on which he had relied, and distribute the spoils taken from him.”

P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.
Almighty Lord, Word of God the Father, Jesus Christ, God and Lord of all creation; who gave to your holy apostles the power to tramp underfoot serpents and scorpions; who along with the other mandates to work miracles was pleased to grant them the authority to say: “Depart, you devils!” and by whose might Satan was made to fall from heaven like lightning; I humbly call on your holy name in fear and trembling, asking that you grant me, your unworthy servant, pardon for all my sins, steadfast faith, and the power — supported by your mighty arm — to confront with confidence and resolution this cruel demon. I ask this through you, Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, who are coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
All: Amen.

  1. Next he makes the sign of the cross over himself and the one possessed, places the end of the stole on the latter’s neck, and, putting his right hand on the latter’s head, he says the following in accents filled with confidence and faith:

    P: See the cross of the Lord; begone, you hostile powers!
    All: The stem of David, the lion of Juda’s tribe has conquered.

    P: Lord, heed my prayer.
    All: And let my cry be heard by you.

    P: The Lord be with you.
    All: May He also be with you.

    Let us pray. God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I appeal to your holy name, humbly begging your kindness, that you graciously grant me help against this and every unclean spirit now tormenting this creature of yours; through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.


    I cast you out, unclean spirit, along with every Satanic power of the enemy, every spectre from hell, and all your fell companions; in the name of our Lord Jesus + Christ. Begone and stay far from this creature of God. + For it is He who commands you, He who flung you headlong from the heights of heaven into the depths of hell. It is He who commands you, He who once stilled the sea and the wind and the storm. Hearken, therefore, and tremble in fear, Satan, you enemy of the faith, you foe of the human race, you begetter of death, you robber of life, you corrupter of justice, you root of all evil and vice; seducer of men, betrayer of the nations, instigator of envy, font of avarice, fomentor of discord, author of pain and sorrow. Why, then, do you stand and resist, knowing as you must that Christ the Lord brings your plans to nothing? Fear Him, who in Isaac was offered in sacrifice, in Joseph sold into bondage, slain as the paschal lamb, crucified as man, yet triumphed over the powers of hell. (The three signs of the cross which follow are traced on the brow of the possessed person). Begone, then, in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit. Give place to the Holy Spirit by this sign of the holy + cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
    All: Amen.

    P: Lord, heed my prayer.
    All: And let my cry be heard by you.

    P: The Lord be with you.
    All: May He also be with you.

    Let us pray.
    God, Creator and defender of the human race, who made man in your own image, look down in pity on this your servant, N., now in the toils of the unclean spirit, now caught up in the fearsome threats of man’s ancient enemy, sworn foe of our race, who befuddles and stupefies the human mind, throws it into terror, overwhelms it with fear and panic. Repel, 0 Lord, the devil’s power, break asunder his snares and traps, put the unholy tempter to flight. By the sign + (on the brow) of your name, let your servant be protected in mind and body. (The three crosses which follow are traced on the breast of the possessed person). Keep watch over the inmost recesses of his (her) + heart; rule over his (her) + emotions; strengthen his (her) + will. Let vanish from his (her) soul the temptings of the mighty adversary. Graciously grant, 0 Lord, as we call on your holy name, that the evil spirit, who hitherto terrorized over us, may himself retreat in terror and defeat, so that this servant of yours may sincerely and steadfastly render you the service which is your due; through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.


    I adjure you, ancient serpent, by the judge of the living and the dead, by your Creator, by the Creator of the whole universe, by Him who has the power to consign you to hell, to depart forthwith in fear, along with your savage minions, from this servant of God, N., who seeks refuge in the fold of the Church. I adjure you again, + (on the brow) not by my weakness but by the might of the Holy Spirit, to depart from this servant of God, N.
    , whom almighty God has made in His image. Yield, therefore, yield not to my own person but to the minister of Christ. For it is the power of Christ that compels you, who brought you low by His cross. Tremble before that mighty arm that broke asunder the dark prison walls and led souls forth to light. May the trembling that afflicts this human frame, + (on the breast) the fear that afflicts this image + (on the brow) of God, descend on you. Make no resistance nor delay in departing from this man, for it has pleased Christ to dwell in man. Do not think of despising my command because you know me to be a great sinner. It is God + Himself who commands you; the majestic Christ + who commands you. God the Father + commands you; God the Son + commands you; God the Holy + Spirit commands you. The mystery of the cross commands + you. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and of all the saints commands + you. The blood of the martyrs commands + you. The continence of the confessors commands + you. The devout prayers of all holy men and women command + you. The saving mysteries of our Christian faith command + you.

    Depart, then, transgressor. Depart, seducer, full of lies and cunning, foe of virtue, persecutor of the innocent. Give place, abominable creature, give way, you monster, give way to Christ, in whom you found none of your works. For He has already stripped you of your powers and laid waste your kingdom, bound you prisoner and plundered your weapons. He has cast you forth into the outer darkness, where everlasting ruin awaits you and your abettors.


    To what purpose do you insolently resist? To what purpose do you brazenly refuse? For you are guilty before almighty God, whose laws you have transgressed. You are guilty before His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom you presumed to tempt, whom you dared to nail to the cross. You are guilty before the whole human race, to whom you proffered by your enticements the poisoned cup of death.

    Therefore, I adjure you, profligate dragon, in the name of the spotless + Lamb, who has trodden down the asp and the basilisk, and overcome the lion and the dragon, to depart from this man (woman) + (on the brow), to depart from the Church of God + (signing the bystanders). Tremble and flee, as we call on the name of the Lord, before whom the denizens of hell cower, to whom the heavenly Virtues and Powers and Dominations are subject, whom the Cherubim and Seraphim praise with unending cries as they sing: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth. The Word made flesh + commands you; the Virgin’s Son + commands you; Jesus + of Nazareth commands you, who once, when you despised His disciples, forced you to flee in shameful defeat from a man; and when He had cast you out you did not even dare, except by His leave, to enter into a herd of swine. And now as I adjure you in His + name, begone from this man (woman) who is His creature. It is futile to resist His + will. It is hard for you to kick against the + goad. The longer you delay, the heavier your punishment shall be; for it is not men you are condemning, but rather Him who rules the living and the dead, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
    All: Amen.

    P: Lord, heed my prayer.
    All: And let my cry be heard by you.

    P: The Lord be with you.
    All: May He also be with you.

    Let us pray.
    God of heaven and earth, God of the angels and archangels, God of the prophets and apostles, God of the martyrs and virgins, God who have power to bestow life after death and rest after toil; for there is no other God than you, nor can there be another true God beside you, the Creator of heaven and earth, who are truly a King, whose kingdom is without end; I humbly entreat your glorious majesty to deliver this servant of yours from the unclean spirits; through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.


    Therefore, I adjure you every unclean spirit, every spectre from hell, every satanic power, in the name of Jesus + Christ of Nazareth, who was led into the desert after His baptism by John to vanquish you in your citadel, to cease your assaults against the creature whom He has, formed from the slime of the earth for His own honor and glory; to quail before wretched man, seeing in him the image of almighty God, rather than his state of human frailty. Yield then to God, + who by His servant, Moses, cast you and your malice, in the person of Pharaoh and his army, into the depths of the sea. Yield to God, + who, by the singing of holy canticles on the part of David, His faithful servant, banished you from the heart of King Saul. Yield to God, + who condemned you in the person of Judas Iscariot, the traitor. For He now flails you with His divine scourges, + He in whose sight you and your legions once cried out: “What have we to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Have you come to torture us before the time?” Now He is driving you back into the everlasting fire, He who at the end of time will say to the wicked: “Depart from me, you accursed, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” For you, 0 evil one, and for your followers there will be worms that never die. An unquenchable fire stands ready for you and for your minions, you prince of accursed murderers, father of lechery, instigator of sacrileges, model of vileness, promoter of heresies, inventor of every obscenity.

    Depart, then, + impious one, depart, + accursed one, depart with all your deceits, for God has willed that man should be His temple. Why do you still linger here? Give honor to God the Father + almighty, before whom every knee must bow. Give place to the Lord Jesus + Christ, who shed His most precious blood for man. Give place to the Holy + Spirit, who by His blessed apostle Peter openly struck you down in the person of Simon Magus; who cursed your lies in Annas and Saphira; who smote you in King Herod because he had not given honor to God; who by His apostle Paul afflicted you with the night of blindness in the magician Elyma, and by the mouth of the same apostle bade you to go out of Pythonissa, the soothsayer. Begone, + now! Begone, + seducer!

    Your place is in solitude; your abode is in the nest of serpents; get down and crawl with them. This matter brooks no delay; for see, the Lord, the ruler comes quickly, kindling fire before Him, and it will run on ahead of Him and encompass His enemies in flames. You might delude man, but God you cannot mock. It is He who casts you out, from whose sight nothing is hidden. It is He who repels you, to whose might all things are subject. It is He who expels you, He who has prepared everlasting hellfire for you and your angels, from whose mouth shall come a sharp sword, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
    All: Amen.

  2. All the above may be repeated as long as necessary, until the one possessed has been fully freed.
  3. It will also help to say devoutly and often over the afflicted person the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Creed, as well as any of the prayers given below.
  4. The Canticle of our Lady, with the doxology; the Canticle of Zachary, with the doxology.

    P: Antiphon:   Magi from the East came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasure chests they presented Him with precious gifts: Gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.  Alleluia.

Canticle of Our Lady (The Magnificat)
Luke 1:46 – 55

P: “My soul * extols the Lord;
All: And my spirit leaps for joy in God my Savior.

P: How graciously He looked upon His lowly maid! * Oh, see, from this hour onward age after age will call me blessed!

All: How sublime is what He has done for me, * the Mighty One, whose name is ‘Holy’!

P: From age to age He visits those * who worship Him in reverence.
All: His arm achieves the mastery: * He routs the haughty and proud of heart.

P: He puts down princes from their thrones, * and exalts the lowly;
All: He fills the hungry with blessings, * and sends away the rich with empty hands.

P: He has taken by the hand His servant Israel, * and mercifully kept His faith,
All: As He had promised our fathers * with Abraham and his posterity forever and evermore.”

P: Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning.

Antiphon: Magi from the East came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasure chests they presented Him with precious gifts: Gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.  Alleluia.

Meanwhile the home is sprinkled with holy water and incensed. Then the priest says:

P: Our Father the rest inaudibly until:

P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.

P: Many shall come from Saba.
All: Bearing gold and incense.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.
All: May he also be with you.

Let us pray.
God, who on this day revealed your only-begotten Son to all nations by the guidance of a star, grant that we who now know you by faith may finally behold you in your heavenly majesty; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

Responsory: Be enlightened and shine forth, 0 Jerusalem, for your light is come; and upon you is risen the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

P: Nations shall walk in your light, and kings in the splendor of your birth.
All: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

Let us pray. Lord God almighty, bless + this home, and under its shelter let there be health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to your commandments, and thanksgiving to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May your blessing remain always in this home and on those who live here; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.


P: Antiphon for Canticle of Zachary:
Today the Church is espoused to her heavenly bridegroom, for Christ washes her sins in the Jordan; the Magi hasten with gifts to the regal nuptials; and the guests are gladdened with water made wine, alleluia.

Canticle of Zachary
Luke 1:68 – 79

P: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel! * He has visited His people and brought about its redemption.

All: He has raised for us a stronghold of salvation * in the house of David His servant,

P: And redeemed the promise He had made * through the mouth of His holy prophets of old

All: To grant salvation from our foes * and from the hand of all that hate us;

P: To deal in mercy with our fathers * and be mindful of His holy covenant,
All: Of the oath he had sworn to our father Abraham, * that He would enable us

P: Rescued from the clutches of our foes * to worship Him without fear,
All: In holiness and observance of the Law, * in His presence, all our days.

P: And you, my little one, will be hailed `Prophet of the Most High’; * for the Lord’s precursor you will be to prepare His ways;

All: You are to impart to His people knowledge of salvation * through forgiveness of their sins.

P: Thanks be to the merciful heart of our God! * a dawning Light from on high will visit us

All: To shine upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadowland of death, * and guide our feet into the path of peace.”

P: Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning.

Today the Church is espoused to her heavenly bridegroom, for Christ washes her sins in the Jordan; the Magi hasten with gifts to the regal nuptials; and the guests are gladdened with water made wine, alleluia.

Then the celebrant sings:
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.
God, who on this day revealed your only-begotten Son to all nations by the guidance of a star, grant that we who now know you by faith may finally behold you in your heavenly majesty; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.


Athanasian Creed

P: Whoever wills to be saved * must before all else hold fast to the Catholic faith.
All: Unless one keeps this faith whole and untarnished, * without doubt he will perish forever.

P: Now this is the Catholic faith: * that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity;
All: Neither confusing the Persons one with the other, * nor making a distinction in their nature.

P: For the Father is a distinct Person; and so is the Son; * and so is the Holy Spirit.
All: Yet the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit possess one Godhead, * co-equal glory, co-eternal majesty.

P: As the Father is, so is the Son, * so also is the Holy Spirit.
All: The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, * the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

P: The Father is infinite, the Son is infinite, * the Holy Spirit is infinite.
All: The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, * the Holy Spirit is eternal.

P: Yet they are not three eternals, * but one eternal God.
All: Even as they are not three uncreated, or three infinites, * but one uncreated and one infinite God.

P: So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, * the Holy Spirit is almighty.
All: Yet they are not three almighties, * but they are the one Almighty.

P: Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, * the Holy Spirit is God.
All: Yet they are not three gods, * but one God.

P: Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, * the Holy Spirit is Lord.
All: Yet there are not three lords, * but one Lord.

P: For just as Christian truth compels us to profess that each Person is individually God and Lord, * so does the Catholic religion forbid us to hold that there are three gods or lords.
All: The Father was not made by any power; * He was neither created nor begotten.



P: The Son is from the Father alone, * neither created nor made, but begotten.
All: The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, * neither made nor created nor begotten, but He proceeds.

P: So there is one Father, not three; one Son, not three; * one Holy Spirit, not three.
All: And in this Trinity one Person is not earlier or later, nor is one greater or less; * but all three Persons are co-eternal and co-equal.

P: In every way, then, as already affirmed, * unity in Trinity and Trinity in unity is to be worshiped.
All: Whoever, then, wills to be saved * must assent to this doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.

P: But it is necessary for everlasting salvation * that one also firmly believe in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All: True faith, then, requires us to believe and profess * that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man.

P: He is God, begotten of the substance of the Father from eternity; * He is man, born in time of the substance of His Mother.
All: He is perfect God and perfect man * subsisting in a rational soul and a human body.

P: He is equal to the Father in His divine nature, * but less than the Father in His human nature as such.
All: And though He is God and man, * yet He is the one Christ, not two;

P: One, however, not by any change of divinity into flesh, * but by the act of God assuming a human nature.
All: He is one only, not by a mixture of substance, * but by the oneness of His Person.

P: For, somewhat as the rational soul and the body compose one man, * so Christ is one Person who is both God and man;
All: Who suffered for our salvation, who descended into hell, * who rose again the third day from the dead;

P: Who ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, * from there He shall come to judge both the living and the dead.
All: At His coming all men shall rise again in their bodies, * and shall give an account of their works.

P: And those who have done good shall enter into everlasting life, * but those who have done evil into everlasting fire.
All: All this is Catholic faith, * and unless one believes it truly and firmly one cannot be saved.

P: Glory be to the Father
All: As it was in the beginning.

Here follow a large number of psalms which may be used at the exorcist’s discretion but are not a necessary part of the rite. Some of them occur in other parts of the Ritual and are so indicated; the others may be taken from the Psalter. Psalm 90 (see p. 227); psalm 67; psalm 69; psalm 53 (see p. 559); psalm 117 (see p. 248); psalm 34; psalm 30; psalm 21; psalm 3; psalm 10; psalm 12.

Prayer Following Deliverance

P: Almighty God, we beg you to keep the evil spirit from further molesting this servant of yours, and to keep him far away, never to return. At your command, 0 Lord, may the goodness and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, take possession of this man (woman). May we no longer fear any evil since the Lord is with us; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
All: Amen.




Whereas the preceding rite of exorcism is designated for a particular person, the present one is for general use — to combat the power of the evil spirits over a community or locality.

The following exorcism can be used by bishops, as well as by priests who have this authorization from their Ordinary.

P: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel, illustrious leader of the heavenly army, defend us in the battle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and the spirit of wickedness in high places.


Come to the rescue of mankind, whom God has made in His own image and likeness, and purchased from Satan’s tyranny at so great a price. Holy Church venerates you as her patron and guardian. The Lord has entrusted to you the task of leading the souls of the redeemed to heavenly blessedness. Entreat the Lord of peace to cast Satan down under our feet, so as to keep him from further holding man captive and doing harm to the Church. Carry our prayers up to God’s throne, that the mercy of the Lord may quickly come and lay hold of the beast, the serpent of old, Satan and his demons, casting him in chains into the abyss, so that he can no longer seduce the nations.


P: In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, by the intercession of Mary, spotless Virgin and Mother of God, of St. Michael the Archangel, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, and by the authority residing in our holy ministry, we steadfastly proceed to combat the onslaught of the wily enemy.

Psalm 67(8)

P: God arises; His enemies are scattered, * and those who hate Him flee before Him.
All: As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; * as wax melts before the fire, so the wicked perish before God.

P: See the cross of the Lord; begone, you hostile powers!
All: The stem of David, the lion of Juda’s tribe has conquered.

P:  May your mercy, Lord, remain with us always.
All: For we put our whole trust in you.

We cast you out, every unclean spirit, every satanic power, every onslaught of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect, in the name and by the power of our Lord Jesus + Christ. We command you, begone and fly far from the Church of God, from the souls made by God in His image and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine Lamb.+ No longer dare, cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute God’s Church, to strike God’s elect and to sift them as wheat. + For the Most High God commands you, + He to whom you once proudly presumed yourself equal; He who wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father + commands you. God the Son + commands you. God the Holy + Spirit commands you. Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh, commands + you, who humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, to save our race from the perdition wrought by your envy; who founded His Church upon a firm rock, declaring that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross + commands you, along with the power of all mysteries of Christian faith. + The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God, + commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles + commands you. The blood of martyrs and the devout prayers of all holy men and women command + you.

Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you by the living + God, by the true + God, by the holy + God, by God, who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life; to cease deluding human creatures and filling them with the poison of everlasting damnation; to desist from harming the Church and hampering her freedom. Begone, Satan, father and master of lies, enemy of man’s welfare. Give place to Christ, in whom you found none of your works. Give way to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, which Christ Himself purchased with His blood. Bow down before God’s mighty hand, tremble and flee as we call on the holy and awesome name of Jesus, before whom the denizens of hell cower, to whom the heavenly Virtues and Powers and Dominations are subject, whom the Cherubim and Seraphim praise with unending cries as they sing: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.
God of heaven and earth, God of the angels and archangels, God of the patriarchs and prophets, God of the apostles and martyrs, God of the confessors and virgins, God who have power to bestow life after death and rest after toil; for there is no other God than you, nor can there be another true God beside you, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, whose kingdom is without end; we humbly entreat your glorious majesty to deliver us by your might from every influence of the accursed spirits, from their every evil snare and deception, and to keep us from all harm; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

P: From the snares of the devil.
All: Lord, deliver us.

P: That you help your Church to serve you in security and freedom.
All: We beg you to hear us.

P: That you humble the enemies of holy Church.
All: We beg you to hear us.

The surroundings are sprinkled with holy water.


Exorcism [The Catholic Encyclopedia]

Exorcism is (1) the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice; (2) the means employed for this purpose, especially the solemn and authoritative adjuration of the demon, in the name of God, or any of the higher power in which he is subject.

The word, which is not itself biblical, is derived from exorkizo, which is used in the Septuagint (Genesis 24:3 = cause to swear; III (I) Kings 22:16 = adjure), and in Matthew 26:63, by the high priest to Christ, “I adjure thee by the living God. . .” The non-intensive horkizo and the noun exorkistes (exorcist) occur in Acts 19:13, where the latter (in the plural) is applied to certain strolling Jews who professed to be able to cast out demons. Expulsion by adjuration is, therefore, the primary meaning of exorcism, and when, as in Christian usage, this adjuration is in the name of God or of Christ, exorcism is a strictly religious act or rite. But in ethnic religions, and even among the Jews from the time when there is evidence of its being vogue, exorcism as an act of religion is largely replaced by the use of mere magical and superstitious means, to which non-Catholic writers at the present day sometimes quite unfairly assimilate Christian exorcism. Superstition ought not to be confounded with religion, however much their history may be interwoven, nor magic, however white it may be, with a legitimate religious rite.


In ethnic religions

The use of protective means against the real, or supposed, molestations of evil spirits naturally follows from the belief in their existence, and is, and has been always, a feature of ethnic religions, savage and civilized. In this connection only two of the religions of antiquity, the Egyptian and Babylonian call for notice; but it is no easy task, even in the case of these two, to isolate what bears strictly on our subject, from the mass of mere magic in which it is embedded. The Egyptians ascribed certain diseases and various other evils to demons, and believed in the efficacy of magical charms and incantations for banishing or dispelling them. The dead more particularly needed to be well fortified with magic in order to be able to accomplish in safely their perilous journey to the underworld. But of exorcism, in the strict sense, there is hardly any trace in the Egyptian records.

In the famous case where a demon was expelled from the daughter of the Prince of Bekhten, human ministry was unavailing, and the god Khonsu himself had to be sent the whole way from Thebes for the purpose. The demon gracefully retired when confronted with the god, and was allowed by the latter to be treated at a grand banquet before departing “to his own place” (op. cit. p. 206 sq.).

Babylonian magic was largely bound up with medicine, certain diseases being attributed to some kind of demoniacal possession, and exorcism being considered easiest, if not the only, way of curing them (Sayce, Hibbert Lect. 1887, 310).


For this purpose certain formulæ of adjuration were employed, in which some god or goddess, or some group of deities, was invoked to conjure away the evil one and repair the mischief he had caused. The following example (from Sayce, op. cit., 441 seq.) may be quoted: “The (possessing) demon which seizes a man, the demon (ekimmu) which seizes a man; The (seizing) demon which works mischief, the evil demon, Conjure, O spirit of heaven; conjure, O spirit of earth.” For further examples see King, Babylonian Magic and Sorcery (London, 1896).


Among the Jews

There is no instance in the Old Testament of demons being expelled by men. In Tobias 8:3, is the angel who “took the devil and bound him in the desert of upper Egypt”; and the instruction previously given to young Tobias (6:18-19), to roast the fish’s heart in the bridal chamber, would seem to have been merely part of the angel’s plan for concealing his own identity. But in extra-canonical Jewish literature there are incantations for exorcising demons, examples of which may be seen in Talmud (Schabbath, xiv, 3; Aboda Zara, xii, 2; Sanhedrin, x, 1). These were sometimes inscribed on the interior surface of earthen bowls, a collection of which (estimated to be from the seventh century A.D) is preserved in the Royal Museum in Berlin; and inscriptions from the collection have been published, translated by Wohlstein in the “Zeitschrift für Assyriologie” (December, 1893; April, 1894).

The chief characteristics of these Jewish exorcisms is their naming of names believed to be efficacious, i.e., names of good angels, which are used either alone or in combination with El (=God); indeed reliance on mere names had long before become a superstition with the Jews, and it was considered most important that the appropriate names, which varied for different times and occasions, should be used. It was this superstitious belief, no doubt, that prompted the sons of Sceva, who had witnessed St. Paul’s successful exorcisms in the name of Jesus, to try on their own account the formula, “I conjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth”, with results disastrous to their credit (Acts 19:13). It was a popular Jewish belief, accepted even by a learned cosmopolitan like Josephus, that Solomon had received the power of expelling demons and that he had composed and transmitted certain formulæ that were efficacious for that purpose. The Jewish historian records how a certain Eleazar, in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian and his officers, succeeded, by means of a magical ring applied to the nose of a possessed person, in drawing out the demon through the nostrils — the virtue of the ring being due to the fact that it enclosed a certain rare root indicated in the formulæ of Solomon, and which it was exceedingly difficult to obtain (Ant. Jud, VIII, ii, 5; cf. Bell. Jud. VII, vi, 3).

But superstition and magic apart, it is implied in Christ’s answers to the Pharisees, who accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, that some Jews in His time successfully exorcised demons in God’s name: “and if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?” (Matthew 12:27). It does not seem reasonable to understand this reply as mere irony, or as a mere argumentum ad hominem implying no admission of the fact; all the more so, as elsewhere (Mark 9:37-38) we have an account of a person who was not a disciple casting out demons in Christ’s name, and whose action Christ refused to reprehend or forbid.


Exorcism in the New Testament

Assuming the reality of demoniac possession, for which the authority of Christ is pledged, it is to be observed that Jesus appealed to His power over demons as one of the recognised signs of Messiahship (Matthew 12:23, 28; Luke 11:20). He cast out demons, He declared, by the finger or spirit of God, not, as His adversaries alleged, by collusion with the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15, 19); and that He exercised no mere delegated power, but a personal authority that was properly His own, is clear from the direct and imperative way in which He commands the demon to depart (Mark 9:24; cf. 1:25 etc.): “He cast out the spirits with his word, and he healed all that were sick” (Matthew 8:16). Sometimes, as with the daughter of the Canaanean woman, the exorcism took place from a distance (Matthew 15:22 sqq.; Mark 7:25). Sometimes again the spirits expelled were allowed to express their recognition of Jesus as “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24) and to complain that He had come to torment them “before the time”, i.e. the time of their punishment (Matthew 8:29 sqq; Luke 8:28 sqq.). If demoniac possession was generally accompanied by some disease, yet the two were not confounded by Christ, or the Evangelists. In Luke 13:32, for example, the Master Himself expressly distinguishes between the expulsion of evil spirits and the curing of disease.

Christ also empowered the Apostles and Disciples to cast out demons in His name while He Himself was still on earth (Matthew 10:1 and 8; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1; 10:17), and to believers generally He promised the same power (Mark 16:17). But the efficacy of this delegated power was conditional, as we see from the fact that the Apostles themselves were not always successful in their exorcisms: certain kinds of spirits, as Christ explained, could only be cast out by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:15, 20; Mark 9:27-28; Luke 9:40). In other words the success of exorcism by Christians, in Christ’s name, is subject to the same general conditions on which both the efficacy of prayer and the use of charismatic power depend.


Yet conspicuous success was promised (Mark 16:17). St. Paul (Acts 16:18; 19:12), and, no doubt, the other Apostles and Disciples, made use of regularly, as occasion arose, of their exorcising power, and the Church has continued to do so uninterruptedly to the present day.


Ecclesiastical exorcisms

Besides exorcism in the strictest sense — i.e. for driving out demons from the possessed — Catholic ritual, following early traditions, has retained various other exorcisms, and these also call for notice here.


Exorcism of the possessed

We have it on the authority of all early writers who refer to the subject at all that in the first centuries not only the clergy, but lay Christians also were able by the power of Christ to deliver demoniacs or energumens, and their success was appealed to by the early Apologists as a strong argument for the Divinity of the Christian religion (Justin Martyr, First Apology 6; Dialogue with Trypho 30 and 85; Minutius Felix, Octavius 27; Origen, Against Celsus I.25; VII.4; VII.67; Tertullian, Apology 22, 23; etc.). As is clear from testimonies referred to, no magical or superstitious means were employed, but in those early centuries, as in later times, a simple and authoritative adjuration addressed to the demon in the name of God, and more especially in the name of Christ crucified, was the usual form of exorcism.

But sometimes in addition to words some symbolic action was employed, such as breathing (insufflatio), or laying of hands on the subject, or making the sign of cross. St. Justin speaks of demons flying from “the touch and breathing of Christians” (Second Apology 6) as from a flame that burns them, adds St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures 20.3). Origen mentions the laying of hands, and St. Ambrose (Paulinus, Vit. Ambr., n. 28, 43, P.L, XIV, 36, 42), St. Ephraem Syrus (Gregory of Nyssa, De Vit. Ephr., P.G., XLVI, 848) and others used this ceremony in exorcising. The sign of the cross, that briefest and simplest way of expressing one’s faith in the Crucified and invoking His Divine power, is extolled by many Fathers for its efficacy against all kinds of demoniac molestation (Lactantius, Divine Institutes IV.27; Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word 47; Basil, In Isai., XI, 249, P.G., XXX, 557, Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 13.3; Gregory Nazianzen, Carm. Adv. iram, v, 415 sq.; P.G., XXXVII, 842). The Fathers further recommend that the adjuration and accompanying prayers should be couched in the words of Holy Writ (Cyril of Jerusalem, Procatechesis 9; Athanasius, Ad Marcell., n. 33, P.G., XXVII, 45). The present rite of exorcism as given in the Roman Ritual fully agrees with patristic teaching and is a proof of the continuity of Catholic tradition in this matter.


Baptismal exorcism

At an early age the practice was introduced into the Church of exorcising catechumens as a preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism. This did not imply that they were considered to be obsessed, like demoniacs, but merely that they were, in consequence of original sin (and of personal sins in case of adults), subject more or less to the power of the devil, whose “works” or “pomps” they were called upon to renounce, and from whose dominion the grace of baptism was about to deliver them.

Exorcism in this connection is a symbolical anticipation of one of the chief effects of the sacrament of regeneration; and since it was used in the case of children who had no personal sins, St. Augustine could appeal to it against the Pelagians as implying clearly the doctrine of original sin (Ep. cxciv, n. 46. P.L., XXXIII, 890; C. Jul. III, 8; P.L., XXXIV, 705, and elsewhere). St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Procatechesis 14) gives a detailed description of baptismal exorcism, from which it appears that anointing with exorcised oil formed a part of this exorcism in the East. The only early Western witness which treats unction as part of the baptismal exorcism is that of the Arabic Canons of Hippolytus (n. 19, 29). The Exsufflatio, or out-breathing of the demon by the candidate, which was sometimes part of the ceremony, symbolized the renunciation of his works and pomps, while the Insufflatio, or in-breathing of the Holy Ghost, by ministers and assistants, symbolised the infusion of sanctifying grace by the sacrament. Most of these ancient ceremonies have been retained by the Church to this day in her rite for solemn baptism.


Other exorcisms

According to Catholic belief demons or fallen angels retain their natural power, as intelligent beings, of acting on the material universe, and using material objects and directing material forces for their own wicked ends; and this power, which is in itself limited, and is subject, of course, to the control of Divine providence, is believed to have been allowed a wider scope for its activity in the consequence of the sin of mankind. Hence places and things as well as persons are naturally liable to diabolical infestation, within limits permitted by God, and exorcism in regard to them is nothing more that a prayer to God, in the name of His Church, to restrain this diabolical power supernaturally, and a profession of faith in His willingness to do so on behalf of His servants on earth.




The chief things formally exorcised in blessing are water, salt, oil, and these in turn are used in personal exorcisms, and in blessing or consecrating places (e.g. churches) and objects (e.g. altars, sacred vessels, church bells) connected with public worship, or intended for private devotion. Holy water, the sacramental with which the ordinary faithful are most familiar, is a mixture of exorcised water and exorcised salt; and in the prayer of blessing, God is besought to endow these material elements with a supernatural power of protecting those who use them with faith against all the attacks of the devil. This kind of indirect exorcism by means of exorcised objects is an extension of the original idea; but it introduces no new principle, and it has been used in the Church from the earliest ages.

Ecclesiastical approbation.

Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.


Exorcist [The Catholic Encyclopedia]

(1) In general, any one who exorcises or professes to exorcise demons (cf. Acts 19:13);

(2) in particular, one ordained by a bishop for this office, ordination to which is the second of the four minor orders of the Western Church.

The practice of exorcism was not confined to clerics in the early ages, as is clear from Tertullian (Apology
23; cf. On Idolatry 11) and Origen (Against Celsus VII.4). The latter expressly states that even the simplest and rudest of the faithful sometimes cast out demons, by a mere prayer or adjuration (Mark 15:17), and urges the fact as a proof of the power of Christ’s grace, and the inability of demons to resist it. In the Eastern Church, a specially ordained order of exorcists (or of acolytes, or door-keepers) has never been established but in the Western Church, these three minor orders with that of lectors as a fourth) were instituted shortly before the middle of the third century. Pope Cornelius (261-252) mentions in his letter to Fabius that there were then in the Roman Church forty-two acolytes, and fifty-two exorcists, readers, and door-keepers (Eusebius, Church History VI.43), and the institution of these orders, and the organization of their functions, seems to have been the work of Cornelius’ predecessor, Pope Fabian (236-251).

The fourth Council of Carthage (398), in its seventh canon, prescribes the rite of ordination for exorcist; the bishop is to give him the book containing the formulae of exorcism, saying, “Receive, and commit to memory, and possess the power of imposing hands on energumens, whether baptized or catechumens”; and the same rite has been retained, without change, in the Roman Pontifical down to the present day, except that instead of the ancient Book of Exorcisms, the Pontifical, or Missal, is put into the hands of the ordained. From this form it is clear that one of the chief duties of exorcists was to take part in baptismal exorcism. That catechumens were exorcised every day, for some time before baptism, may be inferred from canon of the same council, which prescribed the daily imposition of hands by the exorcists. A further duty is prescribed in canon 92, viz: to supply food to, and in a general way to care for, energumens who habitually frequented the Church. There is no mention of pagan energumens, for the obvious reason that the official ministrations of the Church were not intended for them. But even after the institution of this order, exorcism was not forbidden to the laity, much less to the higher clergy, nor did those who exorcised always use the forms contained in the Book of Exorcisms. Thus the Apostolic Constitutions (VIII.26) say expressly that “the exorcist is not ordained”, i.e. for the special office of exorcist, but that if anyone possess the charismatic power, he is to be recognized, and if need be, ordained deacon or subdeacon. This is the practice which has survived in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

As an example of the discretion allowed in the West, in the use of the means of exorcising, we may refer to what Sulpitius Severus relates of St. Martin of Tours (Dial., III (II), 6; P.L., XX, 215), that he was in the habit of casting out demons by prayer alone without having recourse to the imposition of hands or the formulae usually employed by the clergy. After a time, as conditions changed in the Church, the office of exorcist, as an independent office, ceased altogether, and was taken over by clerics in major orders, just as the original functions of deacons and subdeacons have with the lapse of time passed to a great extent into the hands of priests; and according to the present discipline of the Catholic Church, it is only priests who are authorized to use the exorcising power conferred by ordination. The change is due to the facts that the catechumenate, with which the office of exorcist was chiefly connected, has ceased, that infant baptism has become the rule, and that with the spread of Christianity and the disappearance of paganism, demonic power has been curtailed, and cases of obsession have become much rarer. It is only Catholic missionaries labouring in pagan lands, where Christianity is not yet dominant, who are likely to meet with fairly frequent cases of possession.

In Christian countries authentic cases of possession sometimes occur and every priest, especially if he be a parish priest, or pastor, is liable to be called upon to perform his duty as exorcist. In doing so, he is to be mindful of the prescriptions of the Roman Ritual and of the laws of provincial or diocesan synods, which for most part require that the bishop should be consulted and his authorization obtained before exorcism is attempted. The chief points of importance in the instructions of the Roman Ritual, prefixed to the rite itself, are as follows: [Ditto as in The Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual) on page 8]


Ecclesiastical approbation.

Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Also read

Demonical Possession




Increase in Cases of Demonic Possession
Statements by
Fr. Raul Salvucci

ROME, August 4, 1999 ( ZE99080403
We live in a rational and technological society that believes it can do without faith; however, the rejection of God has been accompanied by an unheard of demand for magic and the esoteric. This was confirmed by Italian Fr. Raul Salvucci, an exorcist since 1975, who has just published a book on his experiences. The work is entitled, “What to Do with These Demons?” (Ancora, pp. 230, available only in Italian). In simple and humorous language, the author reveals the tremendous need modern man has for authentic spirituality.
Fr. Salvucci’s purpose is to make known the “uncomfortable” figure of the exorcist. Exorcists make people nervous, not just in society in general, but even in the Christian community itself. “It seems that the Church’s attitude today toward Satan’s work in the world is embarrassment: she is ashamed to admit its reality,” stated Fr. Salvucci.
Fr. Gabriele Amorth, another well-known exorcist, has made the same claim on numerous occasions. Fr. Amorth makes a direct connection between the decreasing number of exorcists in the Church and the increase in magic, esoteric and Satanic practices.
“Up until a few years ago, I would always hear the same names of wizards and witches, but now I hear a new one every day,” Salvucci wrote in his book. The author gave some figures relating to the situation in Italy. Eight years ago, a University Congress held in Perugia discovered that in Italy the esoteric has a following of some 12 million. There were about 170,000 wizards, with income amounting to $600 million. Today, however, the income from these practices has risen to close to $3 billion.
Fr. Salvucci says people of all kinds come to him: housewives, university professors, carpenters and businessmen. “More than one business giant travel in a private plane and take full-time witches with them. In the entertainment world, the same is true. When a wizard appears quite often, one can deduce that the director consults him and gets spiritualist help to guarantee the transmission’s efficacy.”
The Italian exorcist does not see demons everywhere. He admits that the most difficult part of his ministry is to identify the cases of Satanic possession, and to distinguish it from other kinds of physical or psychological ailments. “This is, without a doubt, the most difficult problem to resolve: it is clearly expressed in the introduction to the Exorcism Ritual extant since 1600. Often, the priests who are charged with this responsibility have the charism of discernment. But, after 25 years of experience and, above all, after endless hours of discussion with someone who for years has followed case after case, I have come to the personal conclusion that there is a determined series of tests, similar to those used by psychologists, which allows for certainty in the diagnosis.”
Speaking of those who seek the service of exorcists, Fr. Salvucci went on to say, “Above all, they want someone to discern whether or not there is a demonic presence. Then they ask for ‘immediate liberation’ through exorcism. It is a habitual pattern. When they live through things they cannot understand, they first go to the wizard, who reads the cards (and charges between $150 and $200). If the wizard perceives signs and movements of an ill omen effected by wizards, but does not succeed in altering the situation, then they move to the second stage: they go to a more powerful wizard, advertised on radio or television. In this case, some $4,000 is required. But if this does not work, then they hear about the existence of a priest who conducts exorcisms. And, although society has turned its back on God, in the collective imagination there
continues an ancestral idea that the priest is a trustworthy person, so they go to the exorcist.”
Yet, the trip to the exorcist is different, notes the priest. “They go to the priest with three precise mental conditions: that he receive them outside of working hours, so as not to lose time or money; that he not ask for money, in contrast to wizards; and that the effect against all hidden evil be immediate and total in efficacy. However, this last condition cannot be guaranteed by the priest, so that the endless ‘via crucis’ with wizards might well begin all over again.”
This is, precisely, the great difficulty an exorcist faces today. “People are in a hurry, they are poorly informed on these realities and, therefore, they are also afraid. All they are looking for is a big shot who will free them immediately of everything. This mad frenzy to try every possible means is what ends up by leaving them permanently in Satan’s claws,” Fr. Salvucci concluded.


The devil, that prowde sprite, cannot endure to be mocked – St. Thomas More


Lenten Advice: 10 Ways to Withstand Satan

ROME, March 8, 2001 ( Satan is indeed real, and he is out there waiting to make us fall, a Church leader warns his flock. To help the faithful of his archdiocese live Lent more intensely, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Genoa, Italy, has published a message about man’s “great Tempter.” With the document, the cardinal offers 10 proposals to withstand the devil. The first is: “not to forget that the devil exists.” The cardinal notes: “The first lie, of which we are often victims, is to make us believe he does not exist.”
Second, the cardinal proposes that the faithful “not forget that the devil is a tempter.”

Third, he reminds readers that the devil is “very intelligent and astute.”

Fourth, the cardinal advises his flock to “be vigilant,” since the devil goes about, in the words of St. Peter’s First Letter, like “a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”
Fifth advice: “Believe firmly in Christ’s victory over the tempter.”

Sixth: “Christ makes us participate in his victory.”
The seventh counsel is to “listen to the Word of God,” resisting the enemy “firmly in the faith.”

The eighth is to “be humble in mortification,” as temptation is always “a call to follow the path of egoism.”
Suggestion No. 9: “Pray without ceasing.”

Finally, Cardinal Tettamanzi asks that the faithful to “adore the Lord our God and worship him only.”


Satanism on the Rise, Say Italian Bishops
Often Combined With Superstitious Use of Religion

ROME, May 17, 2001 (
Italian bishops have expressed their concern over what they see as a resurgence of Satanism, fortunetelling, witchcraft and black magic. The Italian bishops’ conference, meeting in plenary assembly in the Vatican, explained in an official statement that this new phenomenon is promoted because of its “resonance” in the media, and the “unhealthy interest” it awakens.

Their comments came as they reviewed the Italian translation of the new “Ritual of Exorcism,” published in Latin by the Vatican in 1998.

The document updates the text that was approved in 1614 and then enlarged in 1954.
According to the Italian bishops, phenomena such as Satanism and black magic are often combined with a superstitious use of religion, which results in offending the individual’s dignity and liberty.
“We are witnessing a rebirth of divinations, fortunetelling, witchcraft and black magic, often combined with a superstitious use of religion,” the bishops’ statement said. “In certain environments, superstition and magic can coexist with scientific and technological progress, inasmuch as science and technology cannot give answers to the ultimate problems of life.” The bishops, who are preparing the pastoral orientation of the Italian Church over the next 10 years, also said they are especially worried about the “resurgence of an unhealthy interest in the sphere of the demonic.”
The bishops’ conference believes that the spread of these ideas leads people to lose confidence in God, to have no faith in providence, and to instrumentalize God according to man’s immediate interests.
“All this offends the dignity and liberty of the person, as man becomes subject to dark, impersonal forces, psychological dependencies and moral degradation,” the bishops stressed.


An Interview with Fr Gabriele Amorth – The Church’s leading Exorcist

By Gyles Brandreth August 2001



On the bumpy flight to Rome I read The Bible all the way. The passenger on my left – a wiry businesswoman from Wisconsin – found this disconcerting. As the turbulence worsened and I moved from Jude to Revelation, she hissed at me, “Do you have to?” “It’s only background reading,” I murmured. She grimaced. “What for?” I turned to her and whispered: “I’m going to meet the exorcist.” “Oh Christ,” she gasped, as the plane lurched and hot coffee spilled over us.

Father Gabriele Amorth is indeed the exorcist, the most senior and respected member of his calling. A priest for 50 years, he is the undisputed leader of the city’s six exorcists (appointed by the cardinal to whom the Pope delegates the office of Vicar of Rome) and honorary president-for-life of the
International Association of Exorcists. He is 75, small, spry, humorous, and wonderfully direct.
“I speak with the Devil every day,” he says, grinning like a benevolent gargoyle. “I talk to him in Latin. He answers in Italian. I have been wrestling with him, day in day out, for 14 years.”
On cue (God is not worried by clichés) a shaft of October sunlight falls across Father Amorth’s pale, round face. We are sitting at a table by the window in a small high-ceilinged meeting room at his Rome headquarters, the offices of the Society of St Paul. Father Amorth has come to exorcism late in life, but with impressive credentials. Born in 1925 in Modena, northern Italy, the son and grandson of lawyers (his brother is a judge), Gabriele Amorth, in his late teens, joined the Italian resistance.
Immediately after the war, he became a member of the fledgling Christian Democratic Party. Giulo Andreotti was president of the Young Christian Democrats, Amorth was his deputy. Andreotti went into politics and was seven times prime minister. Amorth, having studied law at university, went into the Church.
“From the age of 15,” be says, “I knew it was my 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.’
“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.”
Father Amorth smiles continually as he tells his story. His enthusiasm for his subject is infectious and engaging. “Jesus performed exorcisms. He cast out demons. He freed souls from demonic possession and from Him the Church has received the power and office of exorcism. A simple exorcism is performed at every baptism, but major exorcism can be performed only by a priest licensed by the bishop. I have performed over 50,000 exorcisms. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, sometimes many hours. It is hard work multo duro.”
How does he recognise someone possessed by evil spirits? “It is not easy. There are many grades of possession. The Devil does not like to be seen, so there are people who are possessed who manage to conceal it. There are other cases where the person possessed is in acute physical pain, such agony that they cannot move. It is essential not to confuse demonic possession with ordinary illness. The symptoms of possession often include violent headaches and stomach cramps, but you must always go to the doctor before you go to the exorcist. I have people come to me who are not possessed at all. They are suffering from epilepsy or schizophrenia or other mental problems. Of the thousands of patients I have seen, only a hundred or so have been truly possessed.”
“How can you tell?”
“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 a hysteric imitate the symptoms?”
“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.”
As I report this now, it sounds absurd. As Father Amorth told it to me, it felt entirely credible.
I had gone to Rome expecting – hoping, even – for a chilling encounter, but instead of a sinister bug-eyed obsessive lurking in the shadows of a Hammer Horror film set, here I was sitting in an airy room facing a kindly old man with an uncanny knack for making the truly bizarre seem wholly rational. He has God on his side and customers at his door. The demand for exorcism is growing as never before. Fifteen years ago there were 20 church-appointed exorcists in Italy. Now there are 300.
I ask Father Amorth to describe the ritual of exorcism.
“Ideally, the exorcist needs another priest to help him and a group nearby who will assist through prayer. The ritual does not specify the stance of the exorcist. Some stand, some sit. The ritual says only that, beginning with the words Ecce crucem Domini (‘Behold the Cross of the Lord’) the priest should touch the neck of the possessed one with the hem of his stole and hold his hand on his head. The demons will want to hide. Our task is to expose them, and then expel them. There are many ways to goad them into showing themselves. Although the ritual does not mention this, experience has taught us that using oil and holy water and salt can be very effective.
“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.
“No two cases are the same. Some patients have to be tied down on a bed. They spit. They vomit. At first the demon will try to demoralise the exorcist, then he will try to terrify him, saying, ‘Tonight I’m going to put a serpent between your sheets. Tomorrow I’m going to eat your heart’.”
I lean towards Father Amorth. “And are you sometimes frightened?” I ask. He looks incredulous. “Never. I have faith. I laugh at the demon and say to him, ‘I’ve got the Madonna on my side. I am called Gabriel. Go fight the Archangel Gabriel if you will.’ That usually shuts them up.
Now he leans towards me and taps my hand confidentially. “The secret is to find your demon’s weak spot. Some demons cannot bear to have the Sign of the Cross traced with a stole on an aching part of the body; some cannot stand a puff of breath on the face; others resist with all their strength against blessing with holy water.
“Relief for the patient is always possible, but to completely rid a person of his demons can take many exorcisms over many years. For a demon to leave a body and go back to hell means to die forever and to lose any ability to molest people in the future. He expresses his desperation saying: ‘I am dying, I am dying. You are killing me; you have won. All priests are murderers’.”
How do people come to be possessed by demons in the first place? “I believe God sometimes singles out certain souls for a special test of spiritual endurance, but more often people lay themselves open to possession by dabbling with black magic. Some are entrapped by a satanic cult. Others are the victims of a curse.”
I interrupt. “You mean like Yasser Arafat saying to Ehud Barak, ‘Go to Hell’ and meaning it?”
“No.” Father Amorth gives me a withering look. “That is merely a sudden imprecation. It is very difficult to perform a curse. You need to be a priest of Satan to do it properly. Of course, just as you can hire a killer if you need one, you can hire a male witch to utter a curse on your behalf. Most witches are frauds, but I am afraid some authentic ones do exist.
Father Amorth shakes his head and sighs at the wickedness of the world. At the outset be has told me he is confident he will have an answer to all my questions, but he has a difficulty with the next one. “Why do many more women seem to become possessed than men?”
“Ah, that we do not know. They may be more vulnerable because, as a rule, more women than men are interested in the occult. Or it may be the Devil’s way of getting at men, just as he got to Adam through Eve. What we do know is that the problem is getting worse. The Devil is gaining ground. We are living in an age when faith is diminishing. If you abandon God, the Devil will take his place.
“All faiths, all cultures, have exorcists, but only Christianity has the true force to exorcise through Christ’s example and authority. We need many more exorcists, but the bishops won’t appoint them. In many countries – Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain there are no Catholic exorcists. It is a scandal. In England there are more Anglican exorcists than Catholic ones.”
Although the post of exorcist is an official diocesan appointment (there are about 300 attached to the various bishops throughout Italy) and Father Amorth is indisputably the best known in his field, there is some tension between Amorth and the modernising tendencies in the Church hierarchy.
Devil-hunting is not fashionable in senior church circles. The Catholic establishment is happier talking about “the spirit of evil” than evil spirits. The Vatican recently issued a new rite of exorcism which has not met with Father Amorth’s approval. “They say we cannot perform an exorcism unless we know for certain that the Evil One is present. That is ridiculous. It is only through exorcism that the demons reveal themselves. An unnecessary exorcism never hurt anybody.”
What does the Pope make of all this? “The Holy Father knows that the Devil is still alive and active in the world. He has performed exorcism. In 1982, he performed a solemn exorcism on a girl from Spoletto. She screamed and rolled on the floor. Those who saw it were very frightened. The Pope brought her temporary freedom.
“The other day, on September 6, at his weekly audience at St Peter’s, a young woman from a village near Monza started to shriek as the Pope was about to bless her. She shouted obscenities at him in a strange voice. The Pope blessed her and brought her relief, but the Devil is still in her. She is exorcised each week in Milan and she is now coming to me once a month. It may take a long time to help her, but we must try. The work of the exorcists is to relieve suffering, to free souls from torment, to bring us closer to God.”

Father Amorth has laughed and smiled a good deal during our three-hour discussion. He has pulled sundry rude faces to indicate his contempt for the pusillanimous bishops who have a monopoly on exorcism and refuse to license more practitioners. In his mouth it does not seem like mumbo-jumbo or hocus-pocus. He produces detailed case histories. He quotes scriptural chapter and verse to justify his actions. And he has a large following. His book, An Exorcist Tells his Story, has been reprinted in Italy 17 times.
Given his shining faith and scholarly approach, I hardly dare ask him whether he has seen the notorious 1973 horror film, The Exorcist. It turns out to be his favourite film. “Of course, the special effects are exaggerated. But it is a good film, and substantially exact, based on a respectable novel which mirrored a true story.”
The film is held to be so disturbing it has never been shown [until recently] on British terrestrial television and until last year could not even be rented from video shops. None the less, Father Amorth recommends it. “People need to know what we do.”
And what about Hallowe’en? The American tradition has made no inroads in Italy. “Here it is on Christmas Eve that the Satanists have their orgies. Nothing happens on October 31. But if English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that.”
It is time to go to the chapel where our photographer is waiting. Father Amorth, used to the ways of the press, raises an eyebrow at us indulgently as he realises the photograph is designed to heighten the drama of his calling. Pictures taken, he potters off to find me of one of his books.
“What do make of him?” asks the photographer. “Is he mad?”
“I don’t think so,” I say. The award-winning Daily and Sunday Telegraph Rome correspondent, who has acted as interpreter for the interview, and is both a lapsed Catholic and a hardened hack, is more empathic: “There’s not a trace of the charlatan about him. He is quite sane and utterly convincing.” Surprised at myself I add: “He seems to me to be a power for good in the world.” With a smirk, the photographer loads his gear into the back of the taxi. ”So he’s Peter Cushing then, not Christopher Lee,” he says.
Father Amorth reappears with his book and smiles. “Remember, when we jeer at the Devil and tell ourselves that he does not exist, that is when he is happiest.”


Mother Teresa Was Not Exorcised, Archbishop Says
Priest Simply Told to Pray Over Her

CALCUTTA, India, September 7, 2001 ( Mother Teresa of Calcutta did not undergo the rite of exorcism, says Archbishop Henry D’Souza of Calcutta, denying statements attributed to him by the international press. Rather, a priest was simply asked to pray over her during a trouble period in 1996, the archbishop said.
Speaking to the Catholic agency UCA News, the archbishop said that the faulty news of the exorcism was due to a conversation he had with reporters, who asked if holy people can experience abandonment by God.
He told the story of Mother Teresa, while she was in the Woodlands Hospital in 1996. She was found to be very perturbed, suffering from doubts and profound fears. She was hospitalized because of heart problems, and was unable to sleep.
Archbishop D’Souza thought that perhaps an evil spirit was trying to steal her interior peace and confidence in God. So he asked Father Rosario Stroscio, 79, a Salesian priest of Sicilian origin, to pray over her, with a prayer used for exorcisms. However, it was not an exorcism as such.
This story led news agencies to report Wednesday that Archbishop Souza told the Salesian: “You command the devil to go if he’s there. In the name of the Church, as archbishop, I command you to go and do it.”
On Thursday, however, the archbishop clarified: “I did not think she was possessed by an evil spirit.”
Father Stroscio said that the archbishop requested him to pray for Mother Teresa, but he clarified that the religious was not possessed by an evil spirit but only perturbed.
The priest continued: “She did not say the prayer with me, as she seemed to be laboring under some distress, but the nuns around her were aware of what was going on.”
The priest said he left the hospital room after reciting “the prayer of exorcism to drive out evil spirits.” The next day, the nuns who took care of Mother Teresa told him that she slept peacefully the rest of the night.
The archbishop explained that the incident does not call into question the holiness of the religious. In fact, episodes like this are common in the lives of saints and mystics — for instance, Don Bosco or John Vianney — who were also “troubled by evil spirits during their lifetime,” he said.
The incident simply reflects the “human dimension in a saint, which is quite normal,” the archbishop added.
The diocesan phase of Mother Teresa’s process of beatification, entrusted to Archbishop D’Souza, concluded August 15. The investigation has passed to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Mother Teresa, who was born in Macedonia, arrived in India in 1937. Fifty-two years ago she founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity. She died September 5, 1997.



When Young People Fool with Satanism
Interview with Carlo Climati, Author of Best Seller

ROME, September 11, 2001 ( “Youth and Esotericism,” a best-selling work about Satanism and its impact on young people, is one journalist’s attempt to tear down walls of misunderstanding. The work, the biggest seller in Italian Catholic bookstores for the past four months, is published by the Daughters of St. Paul.
This week it was published in Portuguese. It will soon appear in Spanish, published in Mexico by Alba and, in a few months time, will be available in Polish.
The attention the book is getting is evidence of the concerns proper to youth, who are often misunderstood by adults. It is, precisely, this wall that Italian writer and journalist Carlo Climati has tried to demolish.
Esotericism among youth is a worldwide phenomenon, according to an Aug. 28 article in The Times newspaper of London, highlighting the problem of the proliferation of Satanic sites on Internet. In Great Britain alone there are more than 1,000 Satanic sects or cults or spiritualist movements, the paper said.
Here, Climati explains how youths are trapped by occultism.
Q: What is “Youth and Esotericism” about?
Climati: It is an investigation on the esoteric tendencies of the new generations. It begins with four interviews with youths who have succeeded in extricating themselves from the trap of occultism, spiritualism, magic and Satanism. I then analyze a series of current issues: Satanic rock, discotheques, esoteric secrets of tattoos and piercing, New Age, the Internet world, comics, the film “The Blair Witch Project,” the problem of television magicians, telefilms of esoteric content, games, Japanese cartoons, video games, role-playing. At the end there is a small dictionary of esoteric terms and an extensive bibliography.
Q: Do you think that boys’ and girls’ interest in esotericism has grown in recent years?
Climati: I think so. Last year, in Chiavenna, Italy, three young girls killed a nun by stabbing her 19 times as a kind of “sacrifice” to the devil. Demonic symbols and phrases taken from Satanic rock were found in their diaries. Youth’s interest in esotericism, Satanism and spiritualism has grown impressively. Today, horoscopes, amulets, Tarot cards and spiritualist séances are road companions of the new generations, victims of a real esoteric bombardment, carried out through very varied means: from music, television, video games, and comics, to the cinema and the discotheque.
How does this “bombardment” take place?
Climati: It is a bombardment that finds fertile ground in the lives of many youths, often characterized by profound loneliness, difficult family situations, and uncertainty about the future. Interest in esotericism, proposed as an immediate solution to daily problems, can cause enormous damage to boys’ and girls’ minds. It can contribute to create a generation of “new slaves,” locked in their own behavior.
Horoscopes, magic, spiritualist séances and Satanic rock records turn over millions of dollars. Hence, there are some who have decided to enrich themselves at the expense of youth, attracting them with real “traps.”
Q: How does the virus of esotericism spread? What are the causes of the esoteric epidemic that traps the new generations?
Climati: Everything stems from a great mistake. Youth think that esotericism is something fascinating, pleasing. They think they can find an ally in occultism to resolve their own problems. Therefore, they confidently engage in magic practices, spiritualism, Satanism, without realizing that they are playing with fire. In recent years, youths have experienced a kind of brainwashing, which has led them to be fearless of the occult world. Involvement in esoteric ambiences can be a real risk. To participate in a spiritualist séance or a Satanic rite means to open wide the doors to really dangerous realms. One begins by playing, without knowing where it will end.
Q: How can an adolescent get in touch with the world of Satanism, spiritualism and esotericism?
Climati: There are bridges that facilitate this itinerary. Undoubtedly, the most effective is a certain type of rock music, inspired in occultism; in recent years it has become a very good record business. Beginning with the simple interest in a “Satanic rock” singer, one can get in touch with the world of Satanism. It is a gradual, step by step process.
Q: What are these “steps”?
Climati: First of all, the youth is entranced by a “Satanic” singer. Then he feels the need to know more. The second step is to become familiar with the texts of the songs, and the consequent contact with a philosophy of transgression. The third step is the youth’s purchase of music magazines that talk about their favorite singer. Lately, in some rock publications, not only is there talk of music, but also of Satanism and esotericism. Sometimes the address of Satanic sects is given, or Internet Web pages of singers connected with occultism.

Therefore, in order to know more, the fourth step is taken: the search on Internet. Curiosity becomes interest for the pages or “newsgroups” (forums) of the sects.
The last step is the youth’s direct contact, through e-mail, with a sect.



Trial in Satanic-Style Murder Reopens Debate in Germany
Sects Linked to Neo-Nazism

BERLIN, January 17, 2002 ( The murder trial in Bochum, Germany, of a young couple involved in Satanic practices has reopened the debate on the criminal activities of these sects and their close links to neo-Nazi groups. Identified as Daniel and Manuela R., ages 26 and 23, respectively, the public prosecutor of Bochum accused them Wednesday of “treacherously” murdering Franck Hackert on July 6, 2001, in the nearby town of Witten. Hackert was stabbed him 66 times with a triple blade, the kind used in diabolic cults.
The court will probably order the couple to be admitted to an institution for long-term psychiatric care. According to a medical report submitted at the beginning of the trial, both suffer from “narcissistic mental disorders,” so their “responsibility is very reduced.”
Experts estimate that 7,000 people, the majority adolescents, engage in Satanic rituals in Germany. Authorities believe that in general there are no serious ultimate consequences from these practices, since their “sacrifices” are simulated.
Daniel and Manuela would probably not have committed the murder if they did not suffer from mental disorders, some doctors believe. German police have singled out Daniel because of his links to Germany’s National Democratic Party, a neo-Nazi organization. Sympathy for National Socialism is the common denominator of many Germans participating in Satanic cults.
One of the initiates’ idols is Hendrik Moebus, who in 1993, when he was 17, strangled a classmate because he was “bothering” Moebus’ group, the Children of Satan. Sentenced to eight years of juvenile detention, Moebus was granted conditional liberty in 1998, after completing two-thirds of his sentence. He then joined ultrarightist groups.


Devil More Dangerous When Least Perceived, Pope Says
Highlights Christian’s Weapons against Temptations

VATICAN CITY, February 17, 2002 ( The devil is more effective when he goes undetected, John Paul II reminded the faithful today as he pointed out the weapons a Christian has for combating temptations.
“Every man, in addition to his own concupiscence and the evil example of others, is also tempted by the devil, especially when least aware of it,” the Holy Father said from the window of his study before praying the midday Angelus. Addressing the thousands of pilgrims who had gathered in St. Peter’s Square below, the Pope said: “How many times [man] easily gives in to the false enticements of the flesh and the evil one, and then experiences bitter disappointments.”
On this First Sunday of Lent, when Mass-goers heard the Gospel passage on the temptations of Jesus, the Pope called for vigilance “to react promptly to every onslaught of temptation.”
The Holy Father pointed out the weapons a Christian has “for the daily combat against evil suggestions”: “prayer, the sacraments, penance, careful attention to the Word of God, vigilance and fasting.”
These ascetic means, inspired by the very example of Christ, are still indispensable because “the devil, ruler of this world, continues his deceitful action even today,” the Holy Father said.
The Pope encouraged Christians “to undertake the penitential Lenten journey with greater determination, to be prompt in defeating every seduction of Satan and arrive at Easter in the joy of the spirit.”
Before bidding the faithful farewell, John Paul II asked the Catholics of the world to pray for him and his collaborators, who this week are doing their annual retreat, the Spiritual Exercises.
The prayer of the faithful can help to make these days “fruitful,” not “only for those who participate, but for the whole Church,” the Pontiff said.
John Paul II began the retreat at 6 p.m. The preacher is Franciscan Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The theme of the retreat is “Always Christ’s Disciples.” It ends Saturday morning.


Pope John Paul II …
Focuses on a Christian’s Weapons to Combat Evil

VATICAN CITY, February 17, 2002 (
Today, the First Sunday of Lent, the liturgy offers us the impressive Gospel page of the temptations of Jesus: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). The Redeemer’s mission begins, precisely, with his victory over the triple deception of the prince of evil.
“Begone, Satan!” (Ibid. 4:10). The Messiah’s resolute attitude is an example and an invitation for us to follow him with courageous determination.

The devil, “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), continues his deceitful action even today. Every man, in addition to his own concupiscence and the evil example of others, is also tempted by the devil, especially when least aware of it. How many times he easily gives in to the false enticements of the flesh and the evil one, and then experiences bitter disappointments. One must remain vigilant to react promptly to every attack of temptation.

The Church, expert teacher of humanity and holiness, shows us ancient and ever new instruments for the daily combat against evil suggestions: They are prayer, the sacraments, penance, careful attention to the Word of God, vigilance and fasting.

Satanic Services on Hold in Kentucky Prisons

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, September 3, 2002 ( The Kentucky Department of Corrections has halted formal Satanic worship services at a prison while authorities work to produce a statewide policy on the practice, the Associated Press reported.
Prisoners at the Green River Correctional Complex, in Central City, had been allowed to hold weekly Satanic services this summer as part of the official religious services calendar.
“We honestly didn’t know it was on the religious calendar,” Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Carnahan said after the news media asked about the practice.
Under federal law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, correctional institutions may not prohibit the exercise of inmates’ religious freedom, as long as the practice of the religion does not endanger the other inmates or the staff, said Joe Weedon, manager of government affairs for the American Correctional Association.
Carnahan said the state has not suspended Wiccan services, which also are held at Green River and three other prisons. Wicca, a form of witchcraft, includes pagan nature worship. Policies in other states vary. Prison officials in Texas prohibit Satanist services.


The Devil‘s Work, According to a Demonologist
Theologian Corrado Balducci Makes a Distinction

SEVILLE, Spain, September 28, 2003 ( The demonologist of the Diocese of Rome says it is important to distinguish between the devil and evil.
Last week theologian Monsignor Corrado Balducci opened the academic year of the ABC Cultural Hall of Seville, with an address entitled “The Devil: Who He Is, His Existence, His Activity, Diagnostic Criteria and Therapy.” The monsignor referred to an “erroneous concept” of the devil’s nature, where he is confused with evil. “Evil is an abstract concept,” but the devil exists as “an autonomous being, and he cannot be considered as Evil, but as an evil,” said the monsignor, as reported by the newspaper ABC.
Monsignor Balducci described devils as “angels who have freely become evil … spiritual beings who have nothing material about them.” The theologian explained that the evil angels “were aware of their situation and of their possibilities to know. While the majority praised the Creator, others focused on their own nature, self-sufficient, with no need for God.” Their worship of self led them to “renounce the Supreme Being and become immersed in hatred of God,” he said.
To emphasize the existence of the devil, Monsignor Balducci said that Satan is mentioned about 300 times in the New Testament — “much more than the Holy Spirit.”
Regarding cases of seeming demonic possession, the monsignor said: “There are very few who are possessed.”
“If the devil takes possession of the body, the soul cannot carry out its activities. In the case of possession, the devil acts, not the individual,” he added.
The theologian criticized the images of possession given by the movies. In “The Exorcist,” he said, “the girl seemed catatonic — something that has nothing to do” with being possessed.


Church not taking devil seriously, exorcist warns

Rome, June 11, 2004 ( The chief exorcist of Rome has warned that the Church is not sufficiently conscious of the devil. “The devil is extremely satisfied, because he is at liberty to do his work,” said Father Gabriel Amorth. Speaking to the Italian daily L’Espresso, Father Amorth took note of an alarming rise in Satanic practices throughout Italy, and offered some sharp criticism of Church leaders for failing to warn against the devil’s influence.
The Church has gone from one excess to another,” he said. “To compensate for the madness of witch-hunting– in which people were burned when they should have been exorcised– we have completely eliminated the devil and exorcism.” He noted with regret that “entire Catholic regions do not have a single exorcist,” naming Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In Italy, on the other hand, there are 160 priests formally charged to act as exorcists, he reported.
Father Amorth, who has become the world’s most famous exorcist by writing about the practice and the devil’s influence, spoke to L’Espresso about a scandal that has emerged in Italy recently, with the discovery of the bodies of two adolescents who were apparently tortured and killed some time ago. The two young people were both members of a Satanic group, the “Beasts of Satan;” they had been reported missing in January 1998.

Father Amorth, who has been the official exorcist of the Rome diocese since 1986 and is now 80, reminded L’Espresso that, as he has reported in the past, Pope John Paul II has personally performed at least three exorcisms during his pontificate, of which two were completely successful.
(The Pope, like any bishop, has the power to perform exorcisms. He has used that power, in a fashion known to the public, at least three times: in 1978, at the request of a Roman exorcist at St. John Lateran basilica; in 1982, for a woman brought to him by the Bishop of Spoleto, Italy; and in 2002, after a teenage girl exploded in a furious display of unnatural rage during a public audience.)
However he charged that despite the Pope’s clear belief in the reality of demonic possession, the Roman Curia has been slow to respond to that reality. “It’s been a long time since anyone studied these subjects in the seminary: angels, devils, exorcisms, or even sins against the First Commandment.” These sins, he said, would include the use of “magic, spiritualism, and Satanism.” In 1999, the Vatican released a new approved ritual for exorcism, De Exorcismus et Supplicationibus Quibusdam. Father Amorth said that the revised ritual is “a disaster for us exorcists.” The new ritual, he continued, prevents the priest from proceeding with an exorcism “unless he is certain about the condition of a diabolical possession, which is something that you can only ascertain in the process” of an exorcism.
He explained that once an exorcism is begun, the devil often manifests his presence by a “visceral and extremely violent aversion to all that is sacred.” That reaction can be shown, he added, through “talking in unknown languages, the explosion of a superhuman force, levitation, revealed during the exorcisms.” Fortunately, he said, the old ritual of exorcism remains valid, and can be used rather than the more limited new form.
Father Amorth cautioned that diabolical possession is by no means the only evidence of the devil’s existence. “Satan is always at work, in an ordinary way, doing all he can to make man sin,” he said. But he added that there are some special cases in which the devil uses his power in a special way, known as possession.
Demonic possession is actually quite rare, the Italian priest said. In most cases, an individual who is brought to consult with an exorcist suffers from psychological rather than spiritual difficulties.
However, he noted that some people appear to become possessed after entering a Satanic cult.
Father Amorth noted that only individuals who regret their involvement with Satanic cults ever consult an exorcist. Thus there is no way to know how many active members of the cults might also be possessed. The
exorcist offered a chilling reminder: “While it is easy to enter into these Satanic cults, it is extremely difficult to get out.” He warned that those who enter the cults are quite literally risking their lives.
There are two types of Satanism, Father Amorth said. In the “high” cult, members adore the devil, perform Black Masses, and follow a hierarchy of cultic leaders. The “low” form of Satanism might appeal to people who do not believe in the existence of a devil, but can be persuaded to engage in obscene and unnatural acts. Father Amorth argues that this second form is more dangerous, because it is far more widespread; he said that the “low” cult has penetrated into the drug culture, heavy-metal music, the “gothic” cult, and the internet.


5 Phases of an Adolescent’s Slide into Satanism
Interview with Journalist Carlo Climati

ROME, June 25, 2004 ( What do certain rock music and Internet groups, adolescent curiosity, and moral relativism have in common?
They are all doors of access to Satanism for young people, warns Italian journalist and writer Carlo Climati.
Italy is still shaken by the discovery, in early June, of the bodies of Chiara Marino, 16, and Fabio Tollis, 19, in the woods northwest of Milan. They were last seen in January 1998 with other members of their rock band, the Beasts of Satan. Investigators say they were victims of “ritual” killings.
In this interview with ZENIT, Climati describes how adolescents get involved in Satanism and proposes ways to detect and prevent it.
Q: How widespread is the phenomenon of Satanism among young people?
It is certainly a phenomenon that is
growing rapidly and is difficult to control. I would describe it especially as a do-it-yourself Satanism, which young people practice by listening to rock music and surfing the Internet.

Naturally, one must not fall into the error of generalizing and condemning all rock music. But at the same time, one must be realistic and realize that Satanic rock already turns over a volume of business worth billions. Too many singers spread the non-culture of violence, drugs and hatred.
Q: How can an adolescent enter into contact with the world of Satanism?
Climati: It is a process that takes place in “phases” and that can be easily explained because of young people’s great familiarity with the new technologies and means of communication.
The first phase generally consists of the simple and banal interest in a Satanic singer. First, a young person buys his CDs and is passionate about his music. But then he feels the need to know more about the singer.
The second step is knowledge of the texts of the songs and the consequent exposure to a transgressive philosophy of life.

The third phase is the young person’s purchase of music magazines that talk about his favorite singer. Lately, in certain rock periodicals, there is not just talk of music, but also of Satanism and esotericism. Sometimes even addresses are given of Satanic sects or Internet sites of singers linked to the world of the occult.
So, in order to know more, the fourth phase is entered: the search on Internet. Starting from simple curiosity for the sites of Satanic rock singers, there is the risk of going to the pages of authentic sects, or discussion groups frequented by Satanists.
The fifth and last phase is the young person’s direct contact, through e-mail, with a sect or a practitioner of black magic.
Q: What is the philosophy of young people’s Satanism?
Climati: In analyzing this phenomenon it is very important to examine it in depth. One must not stop at incidents of violence or macabre rites that are carried out in forests.
I want to stress especially the “Do what you feel like” idea, an invitation to moral relativism and a life without rules. It is man with his presumption who wants to usurp God’s place and live under the standard of his own egotistical pleasure.
Moreover, at the base of Satanism is the death of hope. The invitation to withdraw into oneself and believe in nothing — in the fact that life is only a jungle in which the powerful triumph over the weak.
Unfortunately, many young people seem to be fascinated by certain terrible philosophies. It is not difficult to identify them at night, outside premises that offer this kind of music. In general, they are dressed in black. Often their arms are marked by small, self-inflicted wounds.
These cuts are a sign of rendition, of pessimism. They symbolize, perhaps, other deeper wounds, which are those of everyday life. A life often marked by inability to communicate, lack of conversation in the family, difficulties in school or at work.
Q: How can the phenomenon of Satanic rock be combated?
Climati: The solution lies in accustoming young people to have a greater critical sense. Young people should not “imbibe” passively everything that certain rock stars say. We must help them to reflect, to understand, to reject those who promote the non-culture of death. One must not allow oneself to be ensnared by terrible philosophies. If a singer promotes violence, we must not buy his records. Let’s applaud those artists who communicate a positive message in favor of life. There is no lack of good examples. Suffice it to look for them.
This is the way that must be chosen to change the balance of the record market, a market that is often merciless and bent on making money at the cost of youth. Before purchasing a CD, we must learn to ask ourselves what kind of ideology is behind it and what messages it is trying to impart. Otherwise, Satanic rock singers, imperturbable, will continue to hold the top spots in the charts.


Why New Age Is a Challenge for Christianity Father Alessandro Olivieri Pennesi Responds

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2004 ( The spread of New Age and its use and abuse of Christian elements make of the movement a challenge for the baptized, says a specialist at the Lateran University.
Father Alessandro Olivieri Pennesi, a professor at the Mater Ecclesiae Higher Institute of Religious Sciences of the Lateran, gave that warning in an interview with ZENIT…

Fr. Pennesi: Douglas R. Groothuis, an American author, has identified six characteristics of New Age thought:

…Six, the traditional way of seeing the personification of evil as the devil or Satan is clearly absent from New Age literature. In regard to history and Lucifer’s task, Benjamin Creme, a known speaker of the movement, states that “Lucifer came from the planet Venus 18.5 million years ago. He is the director of the evolution of our planet; he is the sacrificial lamb and the prodigal son. Lucifer made an incredible sacrifice, a supreme sacrifice for our planet.”


Taking Satan Seriously
Interview with Cardinal Georges Cottier

VATICAN CITY, July 29, 2004 ( We should take the devil “very seriously,” but without losing confidence in the love of God, says the theologian of the Pontifical Household.
Cardinal Georges Cottier gave this interview in the wake of last Saturday’s murder of a priest in the cathedral of Santiago, Chile. The killing was linked to Satanism.
Q: In the great mystery of evil, how much does the action of the devil count and how much responsibility does man bear?
Cardinal Cottier: The devil is without a doubt the great seducer because he tries to lead man to sin by presenting evil as good. But the fall is our responsibility, because the conscience has the ability to distinguish what is good and what is evil.
Q: Why does the devil want to induce man to sin?
Cardinal Cottier: Out of envy and jealousy. The devil wants to drag man with him because he himself is a fallen angel. The fall of the first man was preceded by the fall of the angels.

Q: Is it a heresy to affirm that the devil also forms part of God’s plan?
Cardinal Cottier: Satan was created by God as a good angel, because God does not create evil. Everything that comes from the creative hand of God is good. If the devil has become evil, it is by his own culpability. It was he who, by using his freedom badly, made himself evil.
Q: Will there ever be redemption for the devil, as some theologians affirm?
Cardinal Cottier: Let’s articulate a premise: Man has fallen into sin because the first sinner, namely the devil, dragged him into his abyss of evil. What does this mean in substance?
The rejection of God is, above all, opposition to the Kingdom of God as Providence’s plan for the world. This rejection that stems from the freedom of an altogether spiritual creature as the devil is a total rejection, irremediable and radical, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church also says.
Q: There is no hope, then, that in the end the mercy of God will be able to conquer the devil’s hatred?
Cardinal Cottier: The perfect character of the fallen angel’s freedom makes his choice definitive. This does not mean putting a limit to God’s mercy, which is infinite. The limit is constituted by the use that the devil made of freedom. It is he who impedes God from canceling his sin.
Q: Why did the devil, who is a most intelligent spirit, use his freedom in this way which in any case is always a gift of God?
Cardinal Cottier: Here we are before the mystery. The mystery of evil is first of all the mystery of sin.
We are stricken, justly, with physical evils. But there is a much more radical and sad evil which is the evil of sin. The devil is fixed in his rejection. Moreover, the angel’s sin is always more grave than man’s.
Man has so many weaknesses in himself that in some way his responsibility may be veiled; the angel, being a most pure spirit, has no excuse when he chooses evil. The angel’s sin is a tremendous choice.
Q: It seems impossible that an angel created in God’s light could have chosen evil.
Cardinal Cottier:
When we speak of a fallen angel due to sin we address a very serious argument and we must therefore treat it with great seriousness.
In man’s temptation we have almost a reflection of what was the very sin of the angel. Here is the supreme seduction: to put oneself in God’s place. Satan also did not recognize his condition of creature.
Q: Why is the devil called the prince of this world?
Cardinal Cottier: It is an expression of John’s Gospel. It means that, when the world forgets God, it is dominated by sin. The devil’s action is guided by hatred for God and when we follow his temptations he can cause grave damage. The devil’s principal evil is spiritual evil, that of sin. This action touches both the individual and society.
Q: Could not God have impeded all this?
Cardinal Cottier: Yes, but he permitted both the devil and man to have the freedom to act and, at times, to sin. It is a tremendous mystery.
St. Paul says: “Everything contributes to the good of those who love God.”* That is, when we are with God, even evil contributes to our good. *Romans 8:28
Q: Isn’t this difficult to accept?
Cardinal Cottier: Let us think of the martyrs, of the extraordinary spiritual good that, in the light of faith, derives from a tragedy such as a martyrdom.
Commenting on Paul, St. Augustine said: “God would not have permitted evil if he had not willed to make of this evil a greater good.” There are goods that humanity would not have known if it was not for the presence of sin and evil. It is difficult to affirm this, but it is the truth.
Q: How does the devil act in everyday reality?
Cardinal Cottier: We can understand it from some expressions of John’s Gospel, when he says that the devil has been a murderer from the beginning. That is, he is a destroyer and causes death, either in the proper sense or spiritually. This is why he is called the great tempter.
Q: Are we referring to the devil when we say in the Our Father “lead us not into temptation”?
Cardinal Cottier: Yes, we pray to God to resist temptation. It is mistaken to think that every temptation comes from the devil, but the strongest and most subtle, the most spiritual, certainly have his mark.

And they are both individual and collective temptations. The devil acts on human history. His influence is negative. Death, sin and deceit are signs of his presence in the world.
Q: You say that not all temptations come from the devil. On what else must we be on guard?
Cardinal Cottier: Christian Tradition tells us that there are three sources of temptation.
The most terrible, of course, is that of the devil. Then there is the world, society, “others” in John’s sense. And finally there is the “flesh,” that is, we ourselves.
St. John of the Cross says that of these three temptations the most dangerous is the last, that is, we ourselves. The worst enemy for each one of us is ourself.
Before attributing the temptations to the devil and the world, let us think of ourselves. Here we also find the importance of humility and discernment. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of discernment and preserves us from the arrogance of placing too much confidence in ourselves.

Q: What is the most correct attitude that the Christian must have before the mystery of the Evil One?
Cardinal Cottier: Not ever to forget that the passion and death of Jesus have triumphed forever over the devil. This is a certainty. St. Paul’s says it. Faith is the victory over the father of sin and lies.
This means that the devil, being a creature, does not have infinite power. Despite all his efforts, the devil will never be able to impede the building of the Kingdom of God, which grows despite all the persecutions. The Christian, thanks to fidelity in the faith, conquers evil.
Q: In conclusion…
Cardinal Cottier: We must take the devil very seriously, but we must not think that he is omnipotent. There are people who have an irrational fear of the devil.
Christian confidence, which is nourished with prayer, humility and penance, must be above all confidence in the love of the Father. And this love is stronger than all. We must have the consciousness that the mercy of God is so great as to surmount all obstacles.


Satan‘s Strategy of Confusion Interview with Father Mendoza Pantoja of Archdiocese of Mexico

(Part 1) MEXICO CITY, September 16, 2004 ( Satan exists and his strategy is to confuse, says the exorcist of the Archdiocese of Mexico. Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja was one of the organizers of Mexico’s first National Meeting of Exorcists and Auxiliaries of Liberation, held August 31-September 2 at the headquarters of the bishops’ conference. The meeting drew 500 participants.
Father Mendoza Pantoja coordinates the work of eight exorcists, one for each of the territorial vicariates of that diocese. He spoke of his work with ZENIT. Part of this interview appears Friday.
Q: Who is an exorcist?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: He can be a bishop or a priest designated by him, who by the mandate of Jesus Christ and in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit recites a prayer in which, in an imperative way, in the case of diabolic possession, orders Satan to depart from the one possessed and leave him in total freedom, or in a deprecating form, that is, of intercession or supplication, asking that, by the precious blood of Christ and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, a person, place, house or object be liberated from every demonic influence, be it infestation, obsession or oppression.
Q: Can anyone be an exorcist?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: No. According to the Gospel, Christ enriched his apostles with charismatic gifts when he sent them to evangelize. In Matthew 10:1 it says: “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.” See also Matthew 16:17-18. With that authority, it corresponds to bishops, successors of the apostles, to exercise this ministry of expelling demons. But, according to Canon 1172, they can designate, to exercise this ministry in a stable manner or for a special case, a “pious, learned, prudent priest with integrity of life.” This is true for diabolic possessions and, therefore, for exorcism itself, also called solemn exorcism.
But every priest through his ordination participates in the priesthood of Christ and, with him, has the mission to liberate the faithful from all obsessions, oppressions or demonic influences, with deprecating prayers of intercession and supplication, with evangelization and administration of the sacraments, primarily penance and the Eucharist. Similarly, all priests are exorcists in regard to the pastoral endeavor of liberation within their mission to evangelize, and this is true, by the command of Christ; he does not need to be designated to carry out so-called minor exorcism. Lay people cannot be exorcists.
Q: The meeting you organized also gathered “Auxiliaries of Liberation.” Who are these persons and what do they do?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Auxiliaries of Liberation are: priests who do not have the character of official exorcists; doctors; psychiatrists; religious; and lay people who help the exorcist priest in discernment or in the exercise of his ministry, either with prayer of intercession or in different eventualities.

Priests help with prayer of liberation and the laity with prayer of intercession. A priest who is not an official exorcist can carry out a minor exorcism, also called prayer of liberation, helped in turn by all the laity who support him in discernment and with prayers of intercession. The laity cannot recite prayers of liberation.
Q: If I am not mistaken, this was Mexico’s first meeting of exorcists and one of the first of these characteristics in the world. It seems that in the last 40 years the figure of the exorcist was disappearing. Is this an impression that corresponds with reality?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Indeed, it is. The causes are varied, but we could say that they are included in the great challenge that the second half of the last century presented to the Church in her task of evangelization.
In the first half, Satan attacked humanity in the field of ideas and thought: rationalism, materialism, Gnosticism, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, sectarianism, Socialism, Marxism-Leninism, etc., which separate man from God.



On one hand, the negation of a personal God and also the negation of the existence of Satan as a personal being, exchanging the true God for an impersonal god that identifies itself with this material world and reducing Satan to a mere symbol.
Such an influence also infected our theologians, who in recent times no longer spoke of the devil or the angels.
But as a counterbalance, man felt nostalgia for God. His search for the supernatural, as a solution to the problems afflicting him because of his separation from God, made him fall into the clutches of the New Age, which with its deceitful spiritualities and fictitious magical and esoteric solutions has opened the doors to the manifestations of the devil in many persons who have fallen into New Age esoteric and magical practices.
For this reason, in the permanent mission of the New Evangelization the Church has found it necessary to revive something that she felt was of the past, but which is urgent in our times: to proclaim to those who have fallen away the redemption of Christ who came to liberate us from Satan’s threats.
Q: It is said that in some countries the progress of Satanic sects has not been addressed adequately by the Church for lack of exorcists. Do you think there is some truth in this?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: The answer to this question is related to the previous one.
Indeed, our faithful and priests themselves have been engulfed in the sea of confusions to which the New Age leads us with its mixture of ideas, deceits and lies, manipulating Eastern spiritualities mixed with pantheism, as well as traditional medicines*, which in themselves are a gift from God and have nothing diabolical, but
whose efficacy is used by promoters of the New Age to give themselves credit and make one believe that everything they say is true. *For example, Ayurveda- Michael
It also took us bishops and priests by surprise, without knowing what to do or how to act in this sea of confusions. And some were filled with fear by the phenomenology presented in those affected by the devil. Or it led them to protect themselves in a crass skepticism in the face of these realities, attributing them to psychological problems or illnesses that are difficult to cure and so did not attend to them. Moreover, seminaries have not given preparation to address these problems. For all these reasons, through meetings and congresses both at the national as well as the international level, we are seeking formation both for ourselves, the official exorcists, as well as for all priests and for the laity involved in the pastoral endeavor of liberation.

(Part 2) MEXICO CITY, September 17, 2004 ( Evaluating what are real cases of Satanic possession take serious discernment, says the exorcist of the Archdiocese of Mexico.
Q: Many, perhaps even believers, deny that there can be people who are possessed by the devil. They think, rather, that it is a question of psychological or psychiatric problems. How does an exorcist distinguish between cases of possession and disturbances of another nature?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Canon law and the new exorcisms ritual itself, as well as the Catechism of the universal Church, establish that, before carrying out a major exorcism, there must be discernment: whether it is a question of a real possession or a simple diabolical obsession or oppression, making use also of the previous advice of doctors and psychiatrists so that they can give their diagnosis, the priest always being the one who must ultimately decide because, in addition, the ritual of exorcisms indicates which are the signs that can tell us or lead us to suspect a real diabolical possession: to speak or understand unknown languages as if they were one’s own; to reveal hidden or distant things; to manifest strength beyond one’s age or physical condition, to vehemently separate oneself from God, aversion to the most holy name of Jesus, of the Virgin Mary, and of the saints, to sacred images, places and objects.
Q: For many people, however, these cases of diabolical possession seem rather like Hollywood film stories. It seems that the devil’s strategy is to make one believe he does not exist. As an exorcist, do you think this is true?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: In fact, as I see it, Satan uses several strategies to separate us from God.
What the devil is interested in is to confuse us, either by making us believe that he does not exist and that, as he doesn’t exist, neither do hell and heaven and so we need not be afraid of being far from God.

Moreover, he manifests himself instead with oppressions and obsessions to torment terribly those who have opened the doors to him, so that they will be afraid of him and not try to close the doors to him and trust him.
This is how we can explain Satanic worship and holy death to obtain power, his favor and protection. Satan is the father of lies and deceit.
Q: All ministries in the Church are a grace of God and a service to brothers. Do you yourself perceive the ministry of exorcist as a grace for your life?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: My whole life is a grace from God: my baptism the gift that makes me a child of God, member of the Church, and co-heir with Christ of his glory; the priestly ministry, the gift that enables me to participate in his redemption and his work of salvation and service to my brothers.

The ministry of exorcist is also a gift of his grace and mercy, which in my littleness, insignificance and limitations, enables me to experience, as his instrument, his liberating and salvific power in the service of my brothers, which encourages me and impels me to adhere to him ever more to participate in his victory and, with it, in his glory.
Q: What is the service of the exorcist to the Church and to your brothers like? In other words, is there a case you can tell us about in which your ministry of exorcist enabled you to experience in fullness your vocation as man and priest?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: There are many cases in which, practicing the prayer of liberation — over the past 24 years, also when I was not yet an exorcist — I have seen the power in which God makes us priests participants in the service of our suffering brothers. The therapy of faith with the prayer of healing, liberation, and forgiveness, with which one succeeds in something that is impossible and not within the reach of medical and psychological science.
Now, as an exorcist for the past six years, I have attended several cases of diabolical oppressions and obsessions. Tormented and already despairing people, who after having gone to all kinds of specialists, quacks and medicine men, have worsened their situation. They think they are diabolically possessed and ask anxiously for exorcism. In some cases, there have been signs that have led me to suspect a diabolical presence or possession and, even without being certain, to carry out the so-called diagnostic exorcism, that is, imperative prayer, to succeed in making them enter a peace and tranquility without going so far as to have a full solemn exorcism, it being enough to continue with the prayer of liberation.
It has been a great satisfaction to succeed in the liberation of my brothers, through the service of my humble ministry, by the power of the prayer of intercession and to see the growth of their faith, thanks to an evangelization and catechesis that leads to their conversion, the renewal of their faith, and their fuller adherence to the Lord, and to see them continue their lives full of love and confidence in God.
Q: What should a person do who thinks he is a victim of diabolical possession or who knows someone who might be in that situation?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: He must go to his parish priest and make a good confession so that, in the first instance, that priest can take care of him. If his parish priest discovers that there is a demonic influence but no signs of diabolical possession, he must pray with him supported by a liberation team and insert him in a group of evangelization or growth in the faith or in some parish ministry.
If the parish priest perceives signs that make him suspect a diabolical possession or does not feel able to address the problem, he must then be directed to the exorcist of his diocese or the nearest exorcist. He must never go to medicine men or make use of magical cures.


Anti-Satanism Panel Set Up

CATANZARO, Italy, October 29, 2004 ( Wary of the rise of Satanism, the bishop of San Marco Argentano-Scalea has established a commission to study and prevent the phenomenon.
Bishop Domenico Crusco said the commission will study Satanic occultism and has “the subsequent and urgent duty to plan an adequate prevention and catechesis, beginning with the schools with the direct involvement of teachers of the Catholic religion.”
“Black Masses” and “Satanic rites in general” are “an ever more widespread and worrying phenomenon; we are all invited to a concrete commitment against the expansion of initiatives that refer to the world of the occult,” the bishop said in a statement sent to the whole country.
Mention is made of the Upper-Tyrrhenian area, where consecrated hosts were stolen from a church next to the Belvedere Marittimo railroad station, according to the Italian bishops’ SIR information agency.
The new diocesan commission is made up of the episcopal vicar, the local Caritas director, and a parish priest-professor. It has the support of an information technology specialist.
The bishop invited the members of the commission “to carry out an appropriate sensitization in parishes through the parish priests, avoiding counterproductive fears and psychosis and useless alarmism.”


The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Consequences of De-Christianization

LONDON, November 13, 2004 ( Britain’s Royal Navy stirred the waves last month when, for the first time, it gave official recognition to the practice of Satanism. According to an October 24 report in the Telegraph, Chris Cranmer, a naval technician serving on the frigate Cumberland, is now allowed to perform Satanic rituals on board ship. He would also be able to have a funeral carried out by the Church of Satan if he were to be killed in action.
Cranmer is now petitioning the Ministry of Defense so that Satanism can be a registered religion in the armed forces. According to the Telegraph, the Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco in 1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey, author of “The Satanic Bible.”

The article quoted a Royal Navy spokesman as saying that Cranmer’s unconventional beliefs would not cause problems on board ship. “We are an equal-opportunities employer and we don’t stop anybody from having their own religious values,” he said.
In an October 26 commentary in the Scotsman newspaper, Bruce Anderson said that naval authorities gave the go-ahead to Cranmer because they feared a lengthy legal action that could have ended up before the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, costing millions of pounds. The government, he said, is at fault for “nervously allowing a rights-based legal culture to intrude upon the armed forces.”
Sophie Masson, in a commentary published October 27 in the Sydney Morning Herald, considered the religious implications. The Church of Satan, she noted, says that “we are our own gods.” Moreover, they hold that all traditional sins are virtues, that altruism is a myth and that the Christian virtues are just hypocrisy.
“The most frightening thing is that our society has seemingly become so disconnected from meaning that it no longer takes seriously the very building blocks of its culture,” she added. “To worship the principle of evil itself is to invite it into your life and the lives of those around you, sometimes in unpredictable and horrifying ways.”
The navy’s recognition of Satanism is just one in a series of news items detailing the decline in Christianity in Britain.


On August 18 the newspaper Independent published details of a report by the UK Home Office showing that while most white Britons still call themselves Christian, in practice religion plays little part in their lives.
The survey, based on 15,500 interviews, showed 74% called themselves Christian. But among those who professed their Christianity, when asked what they considered important to their identity, religion was cited by only 17% of white Christians, after other factors such as family, work, age, education, gender, income and social class. By contrast, among black people, 70% of whom say they are Christian, religion was third on the list, and Asians placed it second, behind family. The survey also showed a weak Christianity among youth. Just 18% of Christians aged 16 to 24 considered their religion as important. Religion was more important for young people in other groups: 74% of Muslims; 63% of Sikhs; and 62% of Hindus.
Then, on November 4, the Times published details of another study pointing to a severe decline in traditional religion, and a rise of mysticism. The study, carried out by two specialists in religion from Lancaster University, Linda Woodhead and Paul Heelas, looked at Kendal, a town of 28,000 in Cumbria.
In their book containing the results of the study, “The Spiritual Revolution,” the academics observed that only 7.9% of the town’s population now attends church, down from 11% two decades ago.
The practice of what the authors term “holistic activity,” while still limited, is fast-growing. Currently, 1.6% of the population of the town and environs engage in some kind of holistic activity. During the 1990s, the growth of this number was rapid, and if current trends continue, within 30 years the holistic activities will be the dominant form of religious worship.
Some of the comments cited by the study revealed dissatisfaction with being “preached at” and a preference for describing their religious needs in psychological language. But the Times article also cited the Reverend Brian Maiden, of Parr Street Evangelical Church in Kendal, who declared that he believes that the liberalism of Christianity has turned people off it. “The people of Britain have been inoculated with a dead, mild form of Christianity, which has given them resistance to the real thing,” he said. “It has been diluted with human philosophy. People want to be told what to do and how to do it.”
Britain is not alone in the trend toward the occult and alternative spiritualities. In the United States, for instance, Halloween continues to grow in popularity, the Los Angeles Times reported October 11.
Although many celebrate Halloween on a merely superficial level, the article noted that sales of Halloween goods this year are projected to grow faster, at 5.4%, than those of Christmas, 4.5%. According to the Los Angeles Times the National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will have spent more than $3 billion this season on Halloween products.
On a more serious level, news of Druidic influence in the Episcopalian Church has drawn attention. According to the Washington Times of November 1, a Druidic “women’s eucharist” and a “divorce rite,” posted on the Episcopal Church’s official Web site, outraged a number of Episcopalians. The rites were removed from the Web site after church headquarters began receiving complaints. Shortly afterward, the Philadelphia Inquirer, on November 5, reported that two Episcopal priests, a married couple, the Reverend Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk and the Reverend William Melnyk, had resigned from the leadership of a local Druid society. They may face disciplinary action from the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. During almost four years, while they led parishes in Malvern and Downingtown, the couple were also spiritual guides to local Druids, according to the Inquirer.
Another sign of the growing influence of non-Christian groups is the spread of Wicca. The term can cover a multitude of practices, but it is part of a neo-paganism involving the worship of diverse gods and sometimes the practice of witchcraft. According to an article by Christine Wicker titled “Teen Pagans,” posted on the Web site of Belief Net, Wicca is increasingly popular among adolescents. Its spread is fostered by the contemporary interest in the occult, as well as the ease with which information about these groups can be disseminated via the Internet.


Attempts to put a number on followers of Wicca have not met with much success, according to data posted on the Web site of the multi-faith Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Estimates of their numbers in the United States range from a low 2,000 to a high of 5 million.
Leaving aside what the decline of Christianity means from a religious viewpoint, attention on the social consequences was the focus of a book published earlier this year, “The Strange Death of Moral Britain,” by Christie Davies. His book charts what he terms the decline of “respectable Britain” — the increase in crime, drug use, illegitimacy, abortion, homosexuality, etc. — and links it to the declining influence of Christian morality. Over the last few decades, notably since the 1950s, moral values once instilled by such institutions as Sunday schools have been replaced by a secularized attitude of minimizing harm, regardless of moral considerations.
Recognizing one person’s right to practice Satanism may be dismissed as a trivial incident. But it can also be seen as symptomatic of a society that is rapidly becoming de-Christianized, a process that brings with it many unpleasant surprises.


Critiquing New Age, Occultism and Satanism
Interview With a Specialist in New Religious Phenomena

MADRID, Spain, November 18, 2004 ( Christianity must be centered on Jesus Christ and have no truck with astrology or superstitions, warns a scholar of religions. José Luis Vázquez Borau, author of “The New Religious Phenomena: New Age, Occultism and Satanism,” holds a doctorate in philosophy and a licentiate in moral theology. He has spent much of the last 20 years dedicated to the study and teaching of the religious phenomenon.
Q: There is a somewhat chaotic resurgence of religion: spiritualisms, esotericisms. Is this phenomenon leading to something more?
Vázquez: It is difficult to predict if this phenomenon is leading to something more. What can be affirmed is that to the degree that the human being wishes to deny, cover or dissimulate, as if it did not exist, the “religious sentiment which is innate,” the latter will seek a thousand ways to make itself present and to manifest itself.
We have a recent example in civil baptisms. The human being has imprinted in him a divine presence which we can go so far as to say that it does not exist. But not because of this will it cease to exist and to manifest itself.
Therefore, three things are necessary: Christian communities that give joyful testimony of the faith and at the same time are involved in the problems of people’s lives, especially the poorest; witness of the Absolute; and an adequate religious formation, without which any charismatic sectarian leader, in the pejorative sense of the word, can take over people’s uninformed consciences.
Q: If Christianity were better known, would there be fewer religious phenomena?
Vázquez: In this book “The New Religious Phenomena: New Age, Occultism and Satanism,” I have tried to widen our view to make us realize that all religions, in the course of time, have had followers who have deformed the religions that they postulated in their own benefit, as at the bottom of all religious manipulation there is a quest for money and power.

Thus, after analyzing New Age as an answer to the generalized crisis of institutional religion and the obsession for everything Eastern as paths of wisdom, some of the diverse groups are indicated that arise from different matrixes, such as the Afro-animist, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucianist, Judaic, Christian, Islamic, scientistic, occultist and Satanist.
Undoubtedly, if Jesus was known — the Way, Truth and Life — we would be talking about something else.
Q: The new religious phenomena arise within the religious traditions. In what way does this fact address religions?
Vázquez: The new religious phenomena are linked to postmodernity which gives much value to sensibility, which might contribute to us also placing more value on the way of experience and feeling in our access to God. There is no faith without an initial experience that we call conversion and without the daily experience that we call prayer. It is very important to reassess religious experience. … The danger lies in giving up criticism and allowing oneself to be led by feeling.

Q: According to you, horoscopes, reincarnation and pan-sexuality are “clearly anti-Christian” practices. Yet, they have their followers. How must this subject be addressed so that Christians will understand it?
Vázquez: By being more centered on God and living as children who trust in their Father, knowing that nothing evil can come from him, and if it is for us to experience dark moments, to know that it is all for our good even if we cannot understand it today, but we will one day.
If we appeal to astrology to know about our future, where is our faith? We must not be worried about the future. We must live in God’s present with the soul of a child. Our future is decided here and now by loving and giving our life for others. Reincarnation dilutes human responsibility and sex is not an absolute.



Exorcism Course to Analyze Young People’s Crisis of Values
Carlo Climati on Why They Turn to Satanism

ROME, January 11, 2005 ( Recent incidents of cult deaths in Europe are pointing to a problem hitherto underestimated: the growing interest in Satanism and occultism, especially among adolescents.

That is why the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University and GRIS**, an Italian group that monitors destructive sects, organized a course on “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation.” The course, which is open only to priests and seminarians, will be offered in February, March and April. ZENIT interviewed journalist Carlo Climati, one of the instructors of the course, who specializes in the problems of youth, a topic to which he has dedicated several books.
Q: How did the ideas arise to offer a course on Satanism and exorcism?
Climati: It resulted from contact with many priests, who expressed the need to offer more information on these topics. In their pastoral activities, priests increasingly receive requests for help from parents, or are obliged to address delicate cases of youths involved in Satanic sects or occultism.
This grave problem is represented especially by nihilism, which characterizes certain phenomena. Young people are disoriented and pushed to confuse good with evil and to reject any moral boundaries.
Q: Why is there so much interest in the world of the occult?
Climati: The starting point is a certain tendency to neo-paganism, often dressed up in fashions that are apparently innocuous. Let us think of what has been happening for some years, on the date of the celebration of Halloween. Celebrations with esoteric topics are multiplied in discothèques.
In addition to dancing, young people find fortunetellers on the premises, who offer to read them their horoscope or Tarot cards. And, as if this were not enough, kiosks are filled with magazines for adolescents, with superstitious ideas such as the use of
magic herbs, the supposed power of stones, the production of amulets, and even the adoration of the planet Earth, as if it were a sort of divinity.
Q: Why do many young people take recourse to magic or Satanic rites?
Climati: Because today much thought is given to the body and little to the soul. Magic and Satanism represent the search for an egotistic power to be exercised over others in order to obtain material satisfactions and follow the false models proposed by some of the media.
We are in the era of the appearance, in which aesthetic surgery, advertised in television programs, seems to solve all problems. Whoever does not look like certain actors or models, runs the risk of feeling inferior, limited. He begins to look in the mirror and to experience feelings of insecurity.
The television programs seem to compete in their offer of testimonies of families in crisis, parents who fight with their children, husbands who betray their wives and vice versa, who insult one another and lack respect for each other publicly. This mechanism produces great fear of the other. It prevents young people from believing in the promise of eternal love. **Group of Research and Information on the Sects
Q: Do young people today need to rediscover a relationship with God?
Climati: Of course. But, sadly, they are faced with many obstacles. Today there is a tendency to create an atheist society, dominated by moral relativism. Young people run the risk of finding themselves alone in an ever more materialistic world, deprived of that relationship of divine filiation to which they can take recourse in times of difficulty. Whoever is conscious that he is a child of God can never feel abandoned in face of problems; thus, he will not seek quick solutions such as Satanism or neo-pagan forms of religiosity.
Q: How can young people of today be properly educated?
Climati: A culture of commitment must be promoted, which values the little efforts of daily life.
If we want to win over a girl, we must no take recourse to a magic or Satanic rite. Let’s give her a beautiful bunch of flowers, let’s talk, let’s try to be kind and sincere, let’s open our heart to her. In a word, let’s make the effort. Moreover, it is important to promote a healthy culture of the limit, to educate youngsters so that they will understand that one cannot have everything in life. One must be able to accept one’s own limitations. It is not necessary to look like the models of the photos in order to be happy.
One must not imitate the perfect, but unreal, protagonists of advertisements. Nor is it necessary to always have in one’s pocket the latest model of mobile phone. It is enough to be oneself. This will educate young people to have a better view on life and also so to accept eventual moments of difficulty and suffering.


Why a Course on Satanism and Exorcism
Interview With Secretary of Research Group on Sects

ROME, February 18, 2005 ( A new course on “Satanism, Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation” is offering the clergy formation on guiding souls in contact with the occult or magic.

In this interview with ZENIT, Giuseppe Ferrari, secretary of the Group of Research and Information on the Sects (GRIS) of Italy, commented on the objects of the course, which began this week at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Q: You are one of the initiators of this course. How was it conceived and what are its objectives?
Ferrari: In my capacity as national secretary of GRIS, I had the opportunity a year ago to talk with a priest of the Diocese of Imola here in Italy, who told me about the difficulties priests have when dealing with the problems of people who have somehow entered into contact with the realm of the occult and magic and want to get out, or those who feel in some way that they are the object of demonic action.
My interview with that priest made me reflect, and I thought that the problem could only be addressed effectively with a profound and interdisciplinary formation of priests, at the university level, thus filling a pastoral gap that is increasingly evident.
The main objective of the course is to form and inform an appropriate number of priests, even if afterward they do not become exorcists, in how to analyze requests for help, how to respond, and how to determine when the intervention of an exorcist is necessary.
To this first objective, we can add the formation of doctors, psychologists and jurists, bringing them up-to-date on topics that concern their profession.
Q: What are the issues the course will address?
Ferrari: The course is divided into seven thematic areas distributed over seven days, with a total of 28 hours. If the final exam is passed, one obtains two university credits.
Anthropological, phenomenological and sociological aspects are addressed; biblical, historical and spiritual aspects; liturgical aspects; scientific aspects — medical, psychological and natural; juridical and legal aspects; exorcists’ testimonies.
Without going into details of the program, it is possible to say that the course will study exorcism in depth, not only its theoretical foundations, but also the rite and testimonies of some exorcists with regards to specific cases.
Q: What, in particular, can be the contribution of priests?
Ferrari: The first aspect to consider is that of vocation. A priest who does not have a profound and genuine vocation will never be able to be an authentic and authoritative spiritual guide for the community entrusted to him.
A second aspect is that of formation. This task, by which priests learn to distinguish and reject philosophical, doctrinal, theological and historical errors and those of biblical misinterpretation, constitutes a duty that cannot be deferred, as the sects are spreading in the Catholic realm, taking advantage not only of people’s needs and aspirations, but also falsifying history, manipulating and erroneously interpreting sacred Scripture, introducing unacceptable theological theses, debatable doctrines, and rash philosophical theses.
The new apologetics must not cause clashes but be open to profound, lucid and flexible dialogue. It must be able to relate to the different disciplines: theological, philosophical, historical, scientific, economic, artistic, etc., and project the truth to illuminate the different human problems and offer the man of today solid reasons for Christian hope.
To offer future priests a balanced and profound theological, moral and spiritual formation will serve to avoid, or at least reduce considerably, the risk of having presbyters who are seduced by risky theological speculations, or liturgical and pastoral experimentations with undeniably syncretistic connotations.
Therefore, it is good to recall that the Church is in ever greater need of holy priests, not of priests who preach ambiguous theological theses and strange liturgical and pastoral practices, because only holy priests are able to renew the Church, giving her new sap and new vigor, and the capacity to indicate the necessary impulses to initiate the correct responses to the different challenges of contemporary society.
Lastly, [in this] situation, which the spread of magic and superstitious religiosity has contributed to generate, is the ever more urgent need for priests to impart blessings, to cancel the negative effects of alleged curses, or to exercise the ministry of exorcism on those allegedly possessed by the devil.
The requests are increasingly numerous and create notable problems for the clergy and dioceses, as in these areas priestly formation has been very lacking or nonexistent lately. It is also opportune to fill this gap.
One of the best ways to proceed is not only to appoint an exorcist — who would then be overwhelmed by requests to which he could not respond — or a diocesan commission made up of experts in some fields — for example, in addition to the theological-pastoral, the medical and psychological — but above all to form in this specific area a great number of priests. As I said at the beginning, this is the main objective of the course.


Exorcist on Satan Not Having Last Word
Interview with Father José Antonio Fortea

MADRID, Spain, May 11, 2005 ( God is greater than “Satan’s vehement irruption,” said Benedict XVI in his general audience, something of which exorcists are well aware.
In the following interview with Father José Antonio Fortea, priest of the Diocese of Alcala de Henares in Madrid, an experienced exorcist comments on the reality of the devil in modern life. Father Fortea recently wrote a book entitled “Summa Daemoniaca.”

Q: What is Satan’s greatest triumph?
Father Fortea: To make us believe that he doesn’t exist. Indeed, after the 60s, many theologians said he was a symbol, and this has been a great success because, of course, all the ministry of exorcism disappeared from Europe almost totally. Only in Rome did it remain in a continuous, and even daily, manner.
Q: What has this attitude caused?
Father Fortea: It has done us much harm. People no longer trust in the Word of God as perfect authority in which there is no room for error. They are saying: “We don’t know what is symbol and what is reality.” But the topic of the devil, who was the first to be swept away by the most modernist theology, is one of the ones recovering the most because the reality prevails.
Q: Does the tempter always tempt?
Father Fortea: The devil tempts, but not always, only sometimes. He is not always by our side, although he can tempt to very evil and demonic things. For example, in the flesh. In it we see symbolized many sins that come from our own person. Above all, what are most striking are the sins of lust, as they are the one’s the human being falls into most easily and are the ones with the least malice; they are, rather, of weakness. This type of sin opens the door to worse sins, and so we go descending step by step if we don’t change our ways.
Q: Do the faithful of your parish know about exorcisms?
Father Fortea: It is one of my greatest joys. I think it is the only parish in the world in which very many of the faithful, from 18 to 70 years old, take part weekly in exorcisms. It is perhaps the only one in the world in which they are known both by the mayor and the police. If they hear shouting they don’t come in because they know what is going on there.
Q: However, generally speaking, in the rest of the world exorcism continues to be a spectacle.
Father Fortea: The lack of information is the taboo that has been created around this. The devil knows it well. The less that is know about him, or of the work of the Church against him, the better. But, of course, it is what interests him. What I am interested in is that his plans be uncovered. Above all, an exorcist must know that the devil exists and that the possibility of exorcism exists.


Spiritual Warfare Made Easy

By Fr. Fio Mascarenhas S.J., May 22, 2005 – Holy Spirit Interactive Issue #72

The World, the Flesh and the Devil

The “world”, the “flesh” and the “devil” are the three fronts where intense spiritual warfare is constantly taking place. Jesus called the Devil a Murderer and a Deceiver, whose obsession is always to rob us of life. Hence, for Catholic spirituality, spiritual warfare always includes the struggle for personal sanctity, together with the struggle to witness daily to the new life in the Spirit gifted to us by Jesus. In a “specialist” sense, spiritual warfare is about setting free those persons who are afflicted by evil spirits. For this, an important role is played by the deliverance ministry and the prayer of exorcism. But of greater consequence for victory in “general” spiritual warfare is self-denial in the power of the Spirit, and alertness against the enticements of the world, particularly its constantly pressurizing Christians to a materialistic and selfish lifestyle.

The “world” in a theological sense is the fallen world of human beings, alienated from and hostile to God. As long as the world remains unredeemed, Christians may not live as if they still belonged to the world (Colossians 2:20). In fact, friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4), for the world hates Jesus (John 15:18). Hence, “the world” refers not to God’s beautiful creation but to the chaotic world, constructed by human sinfulness and oppressive socio-political structures, whose works are evil (John 7:7). It is a world under the control of Satan (1 John 5:19). It is the world of materialism, consumerism, oppressive social structures, hedonism, egoism, etc. “The flesh”, on the other hand, is the traitor within us. It is our own sinful ego, and it betrays our resolve to grow as committed and authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. St. Paul insists that those who belong to Christ must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).

To get a holistic picture of spiritual warfare, let us look at some texts from Scripture and from the Pope’s encyclicals. The Book of Revelation declares:

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him… Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:7-9, 17). [Here the “woman” stands for the People of God of both the Old and New Testaments.]


From this text we have to conclude that all human beings are involved, consciously or not, in spiritual warfare! Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, hence God’s Enemy hates us. Moreover, we are redeemed and given new life in the Spirit by the life, passion, death, and resurrection of God’s only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, hence the Devil hates us even more.

[N.B. The presence and activity of evil in the world are a mystery of faith. We will never understand fully: “Why is there a Devil? Why does he/she have such power to tempt and hurt us? etc.” But God’s word tells us about the fact of it, and also shows us how to face it victoriously.]

St. Peter reminds us, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. For your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him/her, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” (1 Peter 5:8f). St. Paul too tells us, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places… Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:10-12, 17-18).

The history of salvation shows that God’s coming close and making Godself present to human beings and the world meets with resistance and opposition in our human reality. St. Paul speaks eloquently about it: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate …I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Romans 7:15-17). He also tells us that “the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, licentiousness, drunkenness, and the like.” There are also other “works of the flesh” like “enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, and envy” (Galatians 5:19ff). Pope John Paul II explains:

“Resistance to the Holy Spirit finds in every period of history, and especially in the modern era, its external dimension, which takes concrete form as the content of culture… It reaches its clearest expression in materialism, both in its theoretical form as a system of thought, and in its practical form as a program of corresponding conduct… Materialism is a system that is essentially and systematically atheistic, and radically excludes the presence and action of God, who is spirit, in the world, and above all in man…” (Dei Verbum 56).

Materialism also leads to the acceptance of death as the definitive end of human existence. Hence, in today’s civilization, the Pope says,

“The signs and symptoms of death have become particularly present and frequent. One has only to think of the arms race and of its inherent danger of nuclear self-destruction. Moreover, everyone has become more and more aware of the grave situation of vast areas of our planet, marked by death-dealing poverty and famine. It is a question of problems that are not only economic but also and above all ethical. On the horizon of our era there are gathering ever darker ‘signs of death’: a custom has become widely established of taking the lives of human beings even before they are born (abortion), or before they reach the natural point of death (euthanasia). Furthermore, despite many noble efforts for peace, new wars have broken out and are taking place, wars which destroy the lives or the health of hundreds of thousands of people. This is only a partial and incomplete sketch of the picture of death being composed in our age” (Dei Verbum, 57).

The Pope is telling us here that all of the above are part of spiritual warfare. Human beings must not only fight evil within themselves, as individuals, but there is a global, cosmic, systemic sin which they must fight against in order to establish “the new creation”. St. Paul’s words about not contending “against flesh and blood, but against… the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” apply to all human persons regardless of their religion, color or social status.

How to Engage Victoriously in Spiritual Warfare

Pope John Paul II has introduced a new emphasis within this subject of spiritual warfare. Writing in his encyclical on “The Holy Spirit”, he points out that it is not only the Devil that is involved in spiritual warfare, but the Holy Spirit too is equally involved, or more involved in it, bringing men and women of goodwill the ability to overcome evil in their lives, so that they too can say: “Where evil abounded, grace super-abounded!” (Romans 5:20). The Pope points to St. Paul’s teaching given to the early Christians: “Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would” (Galatians 5:17).



If it is true that all human beings must fight strenuously against the Evil Spirit, it is also true that all human beings enjoy the active help of the Good Spirit. Hence, the Pope points out the Christian certainty that the Spirit is at work in human beings and in the world, seeking to renew the face of the earth; that if “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit”, it is even more true that the “desires of the Spirit are against the flesh” and that the Spirit is taking many new and powerful initiatives in our times to fight against evil!

“The Church is supremely aware of the reality of the inner persona, of what is deepest and incorruptible. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit this inner ‘spiritual’ person matures and grows strong …The hidden breath of the Divine Spirit enables the human spirit to open in its turn before the saving and sanctifying self-opening to God… The Triune God, who exists in Godself as a transcendent reality of interpersonal gift, giving Godself in the Holy Spirit as gift to men/women, transforms the human world from within, from inside hearts and minds … and enables men/women ever more fully to find themselves through a sincere gift of self” (Dei Verbum 58, 59).

Millions of people, Christians and non-Christians, are experiencing this action of the Spirit “transforming the human world from within” and leading them to make a “sincere gift of self” to God and to “neighbor”. Hence, the Pope can declare, “The Spirit’s presence and activity affect not only individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions. Indeed, the Spirit is at the origin of the noble ideals and undertakings which benefit humanity on its journey through history” (Red. Miss.,28). [You can read more about this in my 2 books, God’s Best Ideas and The Holy Spirit. In these books, I have given many more texts from Scripture, the Pope’s writings, the documents of the 2nd Vatican Council, and have also illustrated the teachings with many practical examples from my travels across the world.]

Practical Steps

The lives of the Saints provide us with an excellent commentary on real spiritual warfare. St. Ignatius of Loyola, a military man and master strategist, gives excellent guidelines for recognising and guarding against “the deceits of the rebel chief” and for a “knowledge of the true life exemplified in the sovereign and true Commander”.


He says that the Enemy summons and scatters innumerable demons throughout the world and goads them on to lay snares for men and women and to bind them with chains: first they are to tempt them to covet riches, that they may the more easily attain the empty honours of this world, and then come to overweening pride; from there he leads them to all other vices. Christ, on the other hand, attracts men and women to the highest spiritual poverty, and if God so chooses them for it, even to actual poverty; secondly, to at least a readiness (if not also a desire) for humiliations (insults and wrongs), for from these spring humility; and from there to all other virtues.

St. Ignatius wrote the above 500 years ago, but the respective strategies of the Enemy, and of Christ, are still the same today too! Materialism and consumerism are nothing but temptations of the Evil One to covet riches, by which people can then attain the empty honours of this world, and end up in overweening pride. The huge success of the Enemy’s strategy is seen from the fact that individualism and freedom from restraint, together with self-indulgence, have become distinguishing characteristics of our modern generation, not only in secular culture but also within Christianity, for example, in the signs-and-wonders branch of fundamentalist TV evangelism.

On the other hand, knowing that the “world” and the “flesh” are the vast battlefronts where the Evil One is gaining ground, Jesus invites us to the direct opposite of “coveting riches, and empty worldly honours, and pride”. He pours out his Holy Spirit, so that our “desires are against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17), and so that we experience power to “not live as if we still belong to the world” (Colossians 2:20). The Holy Spirit tries to attract us to the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), and to a Gospel-lifestyle as in the early Church (washing one another’s feet, bearing one another’s burdens, forgiving one another 70 times 7, becoming the servant of all, etc., etc.).

Hence, a most important way of getting equipped for effective spiritual warfare is personal openness to the Person of the Holy Spirit, and to the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. The charismatic gifts of faith, discernment of spirits, and prayer in tongues, the messianic gifts of wisdom, counsel, knowledge and fortitude, and the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, self-control and steadfastness are especially important items of the spiritual armour we must wear every waking moment. This is because the Spirit is “another Advocate,” especially given to us by Jesus and the Father, to help us in spiritual warfare. Jesus even said it was better for us that he himself should go, otherwise we could not receive his Spirit. And whereas the world, the flesh and the devil are very strong, “the Spirit who is within us is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).


Even so great an apostle as St. Paul would confess, “I buffet my flesh, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be lost!” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Paul engaged in this ordinary and personal spiritual warfare throughout the year, besides the special spiritual warfare he waged when casting out evil spirits from other people. In the Catholic Church, the season of Lent is the special time when the whole People of God gears itself annually to renewed involvement in spiritual warfare. Then, the means of daily personal prayer, a steadily increasing familiarity with and devotion to the word of God, fasting and penance, making new attempts at promoting social justice, frequent participation in the sacraments, enlisting the powerful intercession of Mary in the context of an authentic Marian devotion, etc., are all recommended. But all these are not merely for the season of Lent! For those of us who are serious about spiritual warfare, they are the basics of ongoing, ordinary, all-year-round spirituality.

To conclude, spiritual warfare, I mean holistic spiritual warfare, is more than just “casting out demons”. That kind, the extraordinary kind (of setting people free who are oppressed by evil spirits) is meant for a few Christians, depending on the ministry they are called to. But the ordinary kind that is meant for all is fighting against the “world” and the “flesh”. This is the kind Paul was referring to when he wrote about fighting against the principalities and powers of darkness, and what Peter warned us, about the devil going about like a roaring lion. In this “spiritual-warfare- made-easy”, all of us must be involved as Spirit-filled and Spirit-led disciples and we will experience the Holy Spirit taking many initiatives on our behalf, for God’s greater glory and our eternal good! [All bold emphasis the author’s- Michael]


Why another Course on
Exorcism and Satanism Interview With

Carlo Climati

ROME, September 8, 2005 ( Interest in Satanism hasn’t waned. That is why the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University and the Socioreligious Research and Information Group are offering a course on “Exorcism and the Prayer of Deliverance,” the second of its kind. To better understand the objectives and reasons for the course, which starts October 13, ZENIT interviewed one of the program’s teachers, Carlo Climati, a journalist who has written on youth Satanism.
Q: How did the idea arise to organize a second course on exorcism and Satanism, after the one already imparted in February, March and April of last year, which received unexpected coverage by the media worldwide?
Climati: There was a need to respond to the numerous requests that came from various parts of the world. The second course will be held from October 13 to February 9, 2006, with a break in mid-November and mid-January. It is reserved for priests and students with a licentiate in theology who are preparing for the priesthood. Moreover, it will be possible to follow the course by videoconference from Bologna, Perugia, Assisi, Maddaloni and other cities around the world.
Q: What are the novelties of this second edition?
Climati: All the professors of the first course have been confirmed. To these will be added Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the Pope’s vicar general for Vatican City, and Bishop Andrea Gemma, F.D.P., of Isernia-Venafro, for the opening session, as well as several exorcists for the closing session.
Q: How has the first course been evaluated?
Climati: Optimally. A total of 127 people participated from Italy, Africa, Mexico, Brazil, the United States, Austria, Germany and Slovakia. In particular, its interdisciplinary character was very much appreciated, which allowed for a complete view of the arguments, including the scientific point of view. Without a doubt, among the objectives of the course was to remove such a difficult and delicate argument from a superficial and sensationalist approach.
Q: Did the interest of the media in the first course contribute to this result?
Climati: Undoubtedly. Newspapers, radios, magazines, news agencies and television channels from all over the world talked about our initiative with a correct and balanced language, which corresponded to the spirit of the course. Our sincere gratitude goes to all the journalists who made that course known, for the seriousness they demonstrated in their task of informing.
Q: What are the objectives of the second course?
Climati: In addition to the topic of exorcism, there will be much discussion on the problem of Satanism and sects. This second course also has the objective to give priests useful instruments for their pastoral work of information and support to families. Some incidents mentioned by the media recently must be a sign of alarm to take seriously a problem that is still underestimated: the increase of interest in Satanism. With his solid preparation, a priest can offer an important contribution to address this problem, which can affect above all young people.
Q: How would you describe the phenomenon of youth Satanism?

Climati: Youth Satanism is, above all, domestic Satanism, “homemade.” There are increasingly more youths who admit to being fascinated by devil worship and by a world of lugubrious and dark environments. For many of them, shadows seem to be more attractive than light. “Homemade” Satanism is an even more harmful phenomenon than sects. A sect, in fact, can be discovered and easily controlled. But the personal initiative of three or four youths gets out of control. One only succeeds in intervening when the evil has already been done.
For this reason, it is important to offer appropriate information to families. In this connection, a priest can have a determinant role and offer precious preventive action.


Pope Encourages
in Their Ministry

VATICAN CITY, September 14, 2005 ( Benedict XVI greeted a group of exorcists and encouraged them in their ministry. At the end of today’s general audience, attended by some 20,000 people, the Pope addressed a few words “to the participants in national congress of Italian exorcists and encouraged them to continue in their important ministry at the service of the Church, supported by the solicitous care of their bishops and the incessant prayer of the Christian community.” Italian exorcists constitute the greater part of the members of the International Association of Exorcists.
Next month will see the start of a course on “Exorcism and Prayer of Deliverance” imparted by the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University together with the Socio-religious Research and Information Group (GRIS) for priests worldwide.
An exorcist is a bishop, or priest designated by a bishop, who by the command of Christ and in the name of God recites a prayer for the deliverance of a person possessed by Satan or under demonic influence.


Exorcists Dispel Misconceptions
Evangelization Seen as Main Task

COLLEVALENZA, Italy, September 23, 2005 ( The primary task of the exorcist is to proclaim the Gospel, said a congress of the Association of Italian Exorcists. “The Exorcist in the New Evangelization” was the theme of the eighth meeting of Italian exorcists held in Collevalenza, in the province of Perugia, attended by 180 members of the association.
In statements to the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Father Giancarlo Gramolazzo, president of the International Association of Exorcists, said: “There is much disinformation today on the role of the exorcist; sadly, the media shows this figure as something other than what he really is.”
“With his apostolate,” he said, the exorcist “leads to the faith, persons who are possessed, vexed or obsessed by the devil.” “Essentially,” said Father Gramolazzo, “the exorcist is a catechist who undertakes a journey of faith with a person, also involving the family. The Gospel also teaches this — Mark 9:14-29 — when we read, for example, the case of the possessed child whom Jesus heals by helping the father to have faith.” Father Gramolazzo also warned of the danger of a superstitious faith which “attributes all physical and spiritual troubles to the devil’s action.” However, he said, “an aversion to the sacred,” or affliction by “unknown illnesses or even symptoms that are difficult to identify,” could be possible signs of possession. “Demonic presence must be diagnosed case by case,” he said.
The priest also said that “there should be greater dedication to asceticism, prayer and penance. The popular mentality has exaggerated Satan’s powers, which are those of an ordinary angel.”
“To defend oneself from evil in daily life it is enough to be consistent with the Gospel, not to be afraid to witness to one’s faith and to take care of one’s relationship with God,” he said. The congress offered talks on the role of the Eucharist, Mary and the saints in the lives and work of exorcists. The priests also dedicated time to prayer and liturgical celebrations.
Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, presented the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an instrument of evangelization for the exorcist, whose job must first of all be to proclaim Christ. Benedict XIV, at the end of the general audience September 14, encouraged the participants of the congress “to continue in their important ministry at the service of the Church, supported by the watchful attention of their bishops and the incessant prayer of the Christian community.” A worldwide meeting of exorcists is planned for next year.


Interview with an Exorcist: Fr. James Lebar talks about ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’

By Angelo Matera, editor-in-chief and publisher of Godspy. October 3, 2005

The recent box office success of ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ got people talking about the existence—or not—of the demonic. We spoke to Fr. James Lebar, exorcist for the archdiocese of New York, about the thorny theological issues raised by the movie, and where the line between fact and fiction really lies.


Editor’s Note: This interview discusses key details of scenes crucial to the plot of ‘Emily Rose,’ which may spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it yet.

GODSPY: Fr. Lebar, did you find the movie convincing?

Fr. James Lebar: Yes, I would say so. I thought the movie was good; it presented things fairly. I didn’t see anything in the movie that didn’t belong there.

How do you think it compared to The Exorcist?

That was an entirely different situation. This move didn’t show all the grim and gory details … it did show the attacks by the devil, but I think this was a more cerebral movie in that it was trying to find out how the girl died, and whether the priest was guilty of negligence. The devil doesn’t just test people who want to be tested.

I’d like to ask you about some key points in the movie—for instance, the question of the priest’s possible negligence hinged on the fact that he took Emily off her medication for “psychotic epilepsy.” Was that realistic? Would an exorcist ever do that?

I certainly wouldn’t delve into an area I didn’t know anything about. I wouldn’t do something like that without consulting a psychiatrist. One of the most commented on and controversial aspects of the movie was that Emily seemed to be a pious girl who hadn’t done anything to open herself up to demonic attack. No dabbling in the Occult, no playing with Ouija boards.

Can demonic possession happen without some sort of consent on the part of the person, can it happen against her free will?

Oh sure. The devil doesn’t just test people who want to be tested. He wants to test everybody, especially people who aren’t asking to be tempted.

In what ways does possession happen?

It can happen in one of two ways. A person can open the door to evil through crime, sin, unholy practices, or hatred of God. There are people who never participate in a satanic cult who make a pact with the devil, who give themselves over to evil. The other way is when the devil wants someone for a specific purpose, and he initiates the possession to induce fear or despair in the person, or for some other reason we don’t know about. These people don’t realize what’s happening, and are caught up in the whole thing without warning.

Another interesting twist in the movie was that the medication was blamed for blocking Emily’s free will during the ritual, which is why the exorcism didn’t work. Is that accurate?

Not being a psychiatrist, I don’t know; on a certain level the free will of the individual is working no matter what. And within an exorcism itself, the devil does so many different things, that because of the stress and strain it would be hard to determine what the subject was really willing…

The movies implies that the possessed person has to consent to the exorcism.

When a person does their best to conform to the will of God they can put up with a lot…

More than likely the person needing an exorcism would not agree to one. They’re so wound up by the devil that he overpowers their mind. That’s why we have legal guardians to make decisions when the person can’t. So if the person is so wound up because of the presence of the devil another person can say this is what’s needed.

What about the emphasis, during the exorcism in the movie, on finding out the demon’s names. What’s that about?

In Old Testament times it was always thought that if you knew the name of your adversary you had more control over them, so that it was always thought that it was important to know the names of the demons…

The climax of the movie is the scene where Emily has a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gives her the choice whether to continue her possession. She chooses to stay possessed, which eventually kills her. She martyrs herself as a witness to the reality of Satan. Is there a theological basis for this? Many have asked, “Why would God allow a pious young girl to suffer so much?”

To strengthen her spirituality. To strengthen her love of God. Look at someone like St. Maximillian Kolbe. The Nazis threw him in a concentration camp against his will, but while he was there a situation presented itself where he freely chose to plunge deeper into that horror, to suffer and die in place of someone else. That man he replaced lived to see Kolbe canonized as a saint, someone who gave good example, who was a witness to love’s triumph over evil.

So we should see this as a version of the “dark night,” the absence of God experienced by saints such as St. Therese, and even Mother Teresa?

Was it a bad thing that Kolbe was sent to the camp? Of course. Did it have another purpose? It certainly did. It made him a saint. What made him a saint was not going to the concentration camp—it was conforming to God’s will and doing his priestly work inside the camp, in helping people as best he could. In retrospect, what he did inspired many others to go on.

You’re saying that St. Maximilian can help us understand Emily Rose’s situation—both were faithful believers who were subjected to evil against their wills, and both situations ended in their freely choosing to lay down their lives for God’s sake?



So to ask why God would permit Emily to die this way is just part of the larger mystery of why God permits suffering in general?

Yes. God sees the greater good.

And the idea that Emily could be a saint—which is what the priest in the movie suggests—that’s far-fetched?


Look, if the devil is possessing a person, who then gets into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the devil ain’t happy about it!

The director, Scott Derrickson, said that what helped him come to terms with the tragedy of Emily was that “God Himself endured that—if you believe in the Incarnation.” Do you agree with that?

I guess I would say yes to that, although I might say it differently. We should also remember that when a person does their best to conform to the will of God they can put up with a lot and it’s not masochistic or self-destructive. God doesn’t abandon the person who undergoes these things.

In the movie, Emily runs into a church, where she is subjected to a very physical, demonic attack. Her back arches way back, and she’s in great distress. That surprised me…

I’m sure you’ve heard or read stories of people going into a Catholic church and having to leave because of the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and other things as well. Let me give you an example.

Recently in another part of the country, a priest was working on a case where a woman who was being oppressed would meet him in a church. A point came when she didn’t want to go into the church anymore—she’d try to go in, but she’d get agitated, as if there was a plexiglass shield at the entrance. So the next time the priest arranged for her to wait in the lobby while he signaled another priest to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the church. She didn’t know this was happening. The priest then told her to try again, and she went in and sat down and they talked for an hour. That’s an indication that the devil is involved because he doesn’t want to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

In the movie I was surprised that she could be attacked right in front of the altar.

She went in the church for help. She didn’t know that was going to happen to her.

Wouldn’t she have been protected there?

Look, if the devil is possessing a person, who then gets into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, he ain’t happy about it. That would account for that reaction. God doesn’t abandon the person who undergoes these things. A lot would depend on whether Emily at that point was oppressed or possessed. An oppressed person can go to mass sometimes, other times can’t. Because of that, very often they’ll fool the exorcist, if you’re only depending on that sign.

From the movie, I don’t know whether Emily was a normal everyday person, whether she did something bad and got possessed, whether the devil went after her because she was good … a lot of things follow from the answers to those questions. She knew enough to go into a church when she was attacked. The attacks before then could have been oppressions, not possessions. But at one point the devil possessed her so when she went into the church he had an adverse reaction of the worst kind.

So we shouldn’t view it as “the demons are getting their way even in a church,” but that they’re having an adverse reaction to the Blessed Sacrament…

Yes. The devil doesn’t want her there at all. He’d want to get her out of there.

What do you think about the media attention that movies like Emily Rose bring to the subject of demonic possession? Isn’t there a danger that it will lead people to see demons where none exist?

One of the reasons I’m willing to do interviews like this is so that this phenomenon comes to the attention of people, Catholic and non-Catholic, and they will be informed that a: The devil exists, b: He tries to trouble people, and c: If he troubles people so much that he possesses them, they can be helped through exorcism.

The movie suggests that the reason for Emily Rose’s martyrdom was to demonstrate to the world that the devil exists. You could say that, like the crucifixion, an apparent victory for Satan was turned to defeat. Does evidence of real demons lead people to believe in God?

Yes. I’ve heard of many cases where people who didn’t have any strong belief in God, who became possessed or oppressed themselves, or knew someone who came into that condition, from that came belief in the true God.


Humility Defeats Power of Devil, Says Vatican Course on Exorcism and Satanism Begins in Rome

ROME, October 16, 2005 ( The devil exists, but his power is not equal to God’s, assured the opening speaker of a course on exorcism and Satanism. Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the Pope’s vicar general for Vatican City, inaugurated on Thursday the course “Exorcism and the Prayer of Deliverance,” offered by the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University and the Socioreligious Research and Information Group. The course runs until February 9.

“The devil exists, but omnipotent evil does not exist. There is only One who is infinite and he is infinitely good,” stated Archbishop Comastri.
“There can be no doubt of the devil’s existence,” he continued, addressing 120 students, priests and seminarians, as well as students from other cities worldwide via a teleconference link. “More than in the lives of sinners, his existence is seen in the lives of saints,” the prelate said. “Read the lives of the saints. All have had to combat the devil. Specifically, the devil’s existence is seen in the life of Jesus Our Lord.
“The devil is a creature who was created good by God, but has become evil by rebelling against God. It is essential to remember this truth, not to trivialize the devil but to place him in the right context.”
The vicar general explained that, although the work of salvation is a reality, the prince of this world “can still act because Christ’s work of salvation has not yet been accomplished in our lives, called continually to decide for or against him.” “When freedom becomes a slave of Satan, man suffers grave wounds in his life,” he added. That is why “Jesus gave his apostles the power to expel demons with the power of his redeeming blood, with the power of love that he introduced in history through his death on the cross.”
According to the archbishop, “we make use of this power to expel the demons. This power is real and must be taken seriously, but it must be exercised with great humility, avoiding hasty analyses or degenerating into magical arts of liberation, remembering always that it is Jesus who liberates, through the power of prayer that arises from faith, and through the power of the sacraments of faith.”
The prelate referred to a dialogue that St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, said he had with the devil.
The latter said: “I can do everything you do, I can also do your penances, I can imitate you in everything. There is one thing, however, that I cannot do; I cannot imitate you in humility.”
The saint answered: “That’s why I defeat you.”

“Humility,” continued the archbishop, “is the best bulwark against the devil and humility always ends in prayer and adoration. … “[It is] a power that is obtained continuously from the cross, because the whole of salvation stems from that event of infinite love with which Jesus entered history as Savior.”
On the first day of the course, the doors were opened to journalists. One of them asked why evil exists.
Archbishop Comastri answered: “Pride is the root of all evil because pride separates [one] from God and, when one separates from God, all the other consequences ensue.
“On the cross, Jesus expressed an act opposed to Satan’s: an act of humility, of love.”


Cause Opens for Religious Slain in Satanic Rite
Sister Maria Laura Mainetti Murdered by 3 Teen-age Girls [Also see 9.4.2008]

CHIAVENNA, Italy, November 6, 2005 ( The cause of beatification has opened for Sister Maria Laura Mainetti, a 60-year-old religious murdered by three girls during a Satanic rite in 2000.
Bishop Alessandro Maggiolini of Como solemnly opened the process in Chiavenna on Oct. 23.
“After the time of sorrow and mourning, now is the moment of joy and light,” said Monsignor Ambrogio Balatti, archpriest of Chiavenna San Lorenzo, as reported by the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
Sister Laura, as she was known, was stabbed 18 times on the night of June 6-7, 2000, after being taken to a dark alley by two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old.
Monsignor Balatti said: “The three hapless girls could find no better excuse to attract Sister Laura, than to convince her that one of them was expecting a child, that she had been rejected by her family and boyfriend, and that she didn’t know what to do or where to go.
“It makes me angry when they say that Sister Laura was naive. She took every precaution, but so did the girls. They were able to set up an astute and diabolic plan.”
“How could Sister Laura, whose birth cost her mother her life, who died a few days after her birth, refuse to help that young girl who said she was a mother?” the monsignor asked.
Sister Laura had “a special predilection for young people,” whom she “considered the real poor of today: She saw them lost, without points of reference, exposed to the risk of the existential void.”
Under interrogation, the accused said they killed the nun to “dispel the boredom of a life that was always the same in the small city,” said Monsignor Balatti.

Officials soon learned that the trio initially wanted to sacrifice a priest in their Satanic rite — and their first choice for a victim was Monsignor Balatti.
“At that time, interest in Satanism and occultism had become a fad,” said the archpriest. “Even dress, music and some books contributed to the spread of such a tendency.
“Many young people followed more than anything out of a desire to call attention, to defy the rules. It found fertile ground in some because they were angry with God, perhaps because of personal problems, because of family troubles.”
During the cause’s opening ceremony, some of Sister Laura’s thoughts were read out: “My life belongs to you, Jesus,” “Lord, take also the little I have and the misery I am.”

The killers themselves admitted that when she was dying, Sister Laura found the strength to pray for them, saying: “Lord, forgive them.”
Bishop Maggiolini said: “I am certain that all this will reflect positively also on the three girls: Sister Laura’s is a light that will help them grow and mature.”
Sister Laura, who was baptized Teresina, was born in Colico, Italy, on Aug. 20, 1939. At the time of her death she was superior of the Community of Daughters of the Cross, in the Mary Immaculate Institute of Chiavenna.
A foundation and a series of charitable and pro-life services have been established in her memory. Several denominational centers in Italy and Africa have been named after the murdered religious.


the Devil‘s Doings Theologian Delivers a Lesson in a Rome Pub

ROME, November 18, 2005 ( Rome’s Theology on Tap series for English speakers resumed with a talk on angels and devils. Father Pedro Barrajón, a professor of theological anthropology, explained to a group of young people, who gathered Monday in an Irish pub near the Piazza Venezia, how an exorcism is carried out. He recommended that one should not be afraid of the devil. “The devil exists, but we must not be afraid,” said the Legionary priest who lectures in the course on exorcism and the Prayer of Deliverance at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum. “The devil first tries to tempt us and takes advantage of our weak points,” he warned. “So then, it is important that we know ourselves well and that we know what our weak points are.” “The action of evil can be present in life from the beginning until the latter’s end,” said Father Barrajón. He recalled that in some saintly lives, such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Padre Pio, there was an action of the devil on several occasions. “We live in a very complicated culture, and at times the devil’s presence is manifested through ideas,” the theologian said.

The weapons Father Barrajón asked the young people who were listening to him and holding beers in their hands how one can protect oneself from the devil. The first answer heard was “through the sacraments.” “Yes, the sacraments, faith, prayer and sacrifice are the defense against the devil,” he noted. One of the possible, though exceptional, actions of the devil is possession, said Father Barrajón. “Possession can be induced through cases of magic or Black Masses.” “Exorcism is a kind of struggle,” he added. It “begins invoking the name of the Trinity. The people attending the exorcism pray, although this does not mean that the devil goes away.” “A sort of dialogue is established between the priest authorized to carry out an exorcism — although at times there are lay people who do it but it is not right, because they do not have permission from the ecclesiastical authorities — and the possessed person, who emits strange sounds,” the priest added.
“The devil tries to provoke the priest and shows aversion to the cross, to prayers and the rosary and to other sacred objects,” continued Father Barrajón. “One of the devil’s names is Asmodeus; this is a devil who acts against marriage and the family,” he pointed out. “Other names are Son of Darkness, Satan or Beelzebub, names of biblical origin.”
Finally, Father Barrajón said that in a case of possession, biological, psychological and spiritual elements intervene and that it is not easy at all to establish the boundary between psychological illness and possession.
More information on Theology on Tap in Rome is available via


Cardinal Cottier on
“The Church must speak About the Devil

VATICAN CITY, January 22, 2006 ( Cardinal Georges Cottier, while he was still the theologian to the Pontifical Household, wrote an introduction to the book “Presidente degli Esorcisti — Esperienze e Delucidazioni di Don Gabriele Amorth” (President of the Exorcists — Experiences and Clarifications of Father Gabriel Amorth).
Father Amorth is an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, and founder and honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists. The book has been recently published by Edizioni Carismatici Francescani. Here is a translation of Cardinal Cottier’s introduction.
The Church must speak about the devil. Though he sinned, the fallen angel has not lost all the power he had, according to God’s plan, in the governance of the world. Now he uses this power for evil. John’s Gospel calls him “the prince of this world” (John 12:31) and also in the First Letter of John one reads: “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Paul speaks of our battle against spiritual powers (cf. Ephesians 6:10-17). We can also refer to Revelation. We must fight not only against the human but the superhuman forces of evil in their origin and inspiration: Suffice it to think of Auschwitz, of the massacres of entire peoples, of all the horrendous crimes that are committed, of the scandals of which little ones and the innocent are victims, of the success of the ideologies of death, etc.

It is appropriate to recall some principles. The evil of sin is done by a free will. Only God can penetrate the depth of a person’s heart; the devil does not have the power to enter that sanctuary. He acts only on the exterior, on the imagination and on feelings of a sentient origin. Moreover his action is limited by the permission of Almighty God.

The devil generally acts through temptation and deceit; he is a liar (cf. John 8, 44). He can deceive, induce to error, cause illusion and, probably more than arouse vices; he can support the vices and the origins of the vices that are in us.
In the Synoptic Gospels, the first apparition of the devil is the temptation in the desert, when he subjects Jesus to several incursions (cf. Matthew 4:11 and Luke 4:1-13). This event is of great importance. Jesus cured sicknesses and pathologies. Altogether, they refer to the devil, because all disorders afflicting humanity are reducible to sin, of which the devil is instigator. Among Jesus’ miracles are liberation of diabolical possessions, in the precise sense. We see in particular in Saint Luke that Jesus orders the devils who recognize him as Messiah.
The devil is much more dangerous as tempter than through extraordinary signs or astonishing external manifestations, because the gravest evil is sin. It is no accident that we ask in the Lord’s Prayer: Lead us not into temptation. Against sin the Christian can fight victoriously with prayer, prudence, in humility knowing the fragility of human freedom, with recourse to the sacraments, above all Reconciliation and the Eucharist. He must also ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment, knowing that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are received with the grace of Baptism. Saint Thomas and Saint John of the Cross affirm that we have three tempters: the devil, the world (we certainly recognize this in our society) and ourselves, that is, self-love. Saint John of the Cross maintains that the most dangerous tempter is we ourselves because we alone deceive ourselves. In the face of deceit, it is desirable that Catholic faithful have an ever more profound knowledge of Christian doctrine. The apostolate must be promoted for the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, of extraordinary usefulness to combat ignorance. The devil perhaps is instigator of this ignorance: He distracts man from God, and it is a great loss that can be contained by promoting an adequate apostolate in the media, in particular television, considering the amount of time that many people spend watching television programs, often with contents that are culturally inconsistent and immoral. The action of the devil is also unleashed against the men of the Church: in 1972 the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI spoke of the “smoke of Satan that has entered the temple of God,” alluding to the sins of Christians, to the devaluation of the morality of customs and to decadences (let us consider the history of the religious Orders and Congregations, in which the need has always been noted of reforms to react to the decadence), to yielding to the temptations in the pursuit of a career, of money and of wealth in which the members of the clergy themselves can incur, committing sins that cause scandal. The exorcist can be a Good Samaritan — but he is not the Good Samaritan — as sin is a graver reality. A sinner who remains set in his sin is more wretched that one who is possessed. The conversion of heart is the most beautiful victory over the influence of Satan, against which the Sacrament of Reconciliation has an absolutely central importance, because in the mystery of the Redemption God has liberated us from sin, and gives us, when we have fallen, the restoration of his friendship. The Sacraments have in truth a priority over the sacramentals, a category in which exorcisms are included, which are requested by the Church but not as a priority. If this approach is not considered, the risk exists of disturbing the faithful. Exorcism cannot be considered as the only defense against the action of the devil, but as a necessary spiritual means where the existence of specific cases of diabolic possession have been confirmed.
It seems that the possessed are more numerous in pagan countries, where the Gospel has not been disseminated and where magic practices are more widespread. In other places a cultural element endures where Christians conserve an indulgent tendency in regard to ancient forms of superstition. Moreover it must be considered that alleged cases of possession can be explained by present-day medicine and psychiatry, and that the solution to certain phenomena may consist in good psychiatric treatment. When a difficult case is manifested in practice it is necessary to get in contact with a psychologist and an exorcist; it is advisable to make use of psychiatrists of Catholic formation. A course on these topics has recently been instituted in the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum. It also seems opportune to include such formation in seminaries, in a balanced and wise dimension, avoiding excesses and constrictions.

Cardinal Georges Cottier, O.P., Pro-theologian of the Pontifical Household


Father Raniero Cantalamessa on Unclean Spirits
Comments on This Sunday’s Readings

ROME, January 27, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Pontifical Household, on this Sunday’s liturgical readings.
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B (Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)
The Unclean Spirit Came Out of Him
“Then a man with an unclean spirit cried out: ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ Jesus then rebuked him saying: ‘Be silent and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.” What to think of this episode narrated in this Sunday’s Gospel and of many other similar incidents present in the Gospel? Do “unclean spirits” still exist? Does the devil exist?

When we speak of belief in the devil, we must distinguish two levels: the level of popular beliefs and the intellectual level (literature, philosophy and theology). On the popular level, or the level of customs, our present situation is not that different from the Middle Ages, or the 14th-16th centuries, sadly famous for the importance given to diabolical phenomena. There no longer are, it is true, Inquisition trials, deaths at the stake for the possessed, witch hunts and similar things; but practices that have the devil at the center are even more widespread than they were then, and not only among the poor and popular classes. It has become a social (and commercial!) phenomenon of vast proportions. More than that, it could be said that the more one tries to expel the devil out the door, so much more does he return through the window; the more he is excluded from faith, the stronger he gets in superstition.
Things are very different at the intellectual and cultural level. Here the most absolute silence already reigns about the devil. The enemy no longer exists. R. Bultmann, the author of the demystification, wrote: “One cannot make use of electric light and the radio, one cannot make use of medical means and clinics in case of illness and at the same time believe in the world of spirits.”
I believe that one of the reasons that many find it difficult to believe in the devil is because they look for him in books, whereas the devil is not interested in books, but rather in souls. Paul VI reaffirmed forcefully the biblical and traditional doctrine on this “dark agent and enemy that is the devil.” He wrote, among other things: “Evil is no longer only a deficiency, but an efficiency, a living, spiritual, perverted and perverting being, terrible reality, mysterious and dreadful.”
In this realm, however, the crisis has not happened in vain, without bearing even positive fruits. In the past, talk of the devil was often exaggerated; he was seen where he was not; many offenses and injustices were committed with the pretext of fighting him; much discretion and prudence is necessary not to fall in the enemy’s game. To see the devil everywhere is no less deflecting than to see him nowhere. St. Augustine said: “The devil rejoices when he is accused. More than that, he wants you to accuse him; he accepts gladly all your recrimination, if this serves to dissuade you from making your confession!”
Therefore, one understands the Church’s prudence in discouraging the indiscriminate practice of exorcism by people who have not received any mandate to exercise this ministry.
Our cities are full of people who make exorcism one of the many paid practices and they boast of removing “spells, the evil eye, bad luck, malignant negativities on people, houses, enterprises, commercial activities.”

It is surprising that in a society such as ours, so alert to commercial frauds and willing to denounce cases of excessive credit and abuses in the exercise of a profession, many people are found willing to swallow such hoaxes.

That day, even before Jesus said anything in the synagogue of Capernaum, the unclean spirit felt ejected and obliged to come out in the open. It was Jesus’ “holiness” that seemed “untenable” for the unclean spirit. The Christian who lives in grace and is temple of the Holy Spirit, bears in himself some of this holiness of Christ, and it is precisely the latter which operates, in the environments where he lives, a silent and effective exorcism.


New law forces UK retreat houses to tolerate black masses
March 30, 2006 New rules forcing UK Catholic retreat centres to accommodate militant gays or even satanists have been met with a flurry of complaints.
The Universe reports that complaints against the new Equality Act are coming from Christian business operators of retreat centres and guesthouses.
The director of one leading Catholic retreat centre, the Jesuit run Loyola Hall on Merseyside, said he would rather go to court than let a black mass be celebrated on the premises by a guest. Other Christian bed and breakfast establishments have also promised to ignore the legislation which they say conflicts with their Biblical beliefs.
The law was introduced last October but as the holiday season gets underway, Catholics are anxious that militant gay rights campaigners or satanists will try to make a test case by checking into a retreat or conference centre.
Fr Ian Tomlinson, director at Loyola Hall at Prescott said: “I have no problem with a satanists wanting to come and have a discussion about their beliefs.
“But I would not allow them to stay here and certainly not allow them to celebrate a black mass in their room. I would rather go to court. It would be deeply offensive to allow something like that to happen here.”
He also said that it would conflict with his obligations as a priest.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Hilary Sutton, press officer for the Catenian Association, also opposes the new legislation.
“If I did run a bed and breakfast establishment, I think I should be entitled to choose who I allow to stay there,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed ministers had been inundated with letters from Christians angry at the new legislation, and the responsible government Department has also received scores of written protests.
Under the legislation providers of services to the public will not be able to refuse to deal with individuals or groups because of their religion or sexual orientation, but Christian groups are demanding an exemption.
“Homosexuals have human rights, but so do religious people, and potentially there’s a clash between them,” said Dr Don Horrocks of the Evangelical Alliance.

Satan victim of a devilish image problem

By Barney Zwartz Sydney Morning Herald April 12, 2006

A former Jesuit turned university professor has set himself an ambitious project: rehabilitating the devil.

Henry Ansgar Kelly says Satan is the most maligned figure in history and has endured 17 centuries of unjustified character assassination. “For 1700 years Satan has been the enemy of God, whereas in the Bible he works for God, he’s his prime minister or attorney-general, in charge of policing the world,” Professor Kelly said.

“He is one of God’s angels, and his job is to test people.” The 71-year-old University of California professor has played devil’s advocate for four decades, and is the author of many books and scholarly articles. The devil did not have a kingdom, did not rule over hell, and did not try to damn people, Professor Kelly said. These ideas had developed from the second to the fourth centuries AD, and were refined for the next 1000 years. Professor Kelly said it was important to recapture the biblical understanding of Satan to combat the doctrine of original sin, “in which the whole human race is delivered to Satan”. “That’s the most immoral doctrine in Christianity that the whole of the human race is doomed to hell for something they didn’t do. Once you get rid of that, Christianity becomes less unreasonable.”

Satan’s rare appearances in the Old Testament were not by one person, but a number of angels doing God’s work, Professor Kelly said. He would like his theories to attract more official hostility, he said, because then they would be better known. Professor Kelly is officially an exorcist, but he has never tackled anyone with demon possession. “Demons are like talking germs – parasites looking for a place to stay, like diseases – and are under Satan’s control,” he said. “I prefer to have a global exorcism [of Satan’s reputation]. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about these minor manifestations.”


Melbourne priest “murdered, held satanic rituals”
May 26, 2006 The Melbourne Archdiocese has accepted as substantially true allegations that a Melbourne priest took part in satanic rituals during which a number of murders occurred.
The Advertiser reports that the Melbourne Archdiocese paid $33,000 to the man who made the allegations as compensation for the repeated sexual and physical abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of the priest after investigating claims.
The Archdiocese’s independent sexual abuse investigator, barrister Peter O’Callaghan QC, described the details of the ritualised murders and sexual abuse provided by the victim as “extraordinary”.
“… but I have no reason or justification for doubting his credibility,” Mr O’Callaghan said in a letter to the victim’s lawyers in 2000.
Earlier during a formal interview with the victim, Mr O’Callaghan said he was satisfied the man was telling the truth. “I see no reason why I shouldn’t accept what you say,” he said.
The Melbourne Archdioceses Vicar General, Msgr. Les Tomlinson, said that Mr O’Callaghan advised Victoria Police about the allegations when he first learned of them in 1999.
He was told that the victim had already notified police that he had been sexually abused and was a witness to murder.
In a sworn statement given to the Archdiocese, the victim said he was first abused by the priest in Melbourne in the early 1960s, when he was serving as an altar boy at the Sacred Heart Church in Sandringham and attending a Catholic school.
The abuse continued for three years.
In his statement the 56-year-old victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave details of at least three deaths – a young woman, a young man and a child – that occurred during the satanic rituals over a number of years.
Two victims had their throats cuts and a third was killed with an axe. Animals were also killed during the ceremonies.
SOURCE Priest murdered, held satanic rituals (The Advertiser 26/5/06)


Exorcist says demonic influence is strong in today’s world

By John Thavis August 29, 2006

VATICAN CITY (CNS) An Italian exorcist said demonic influence is strong in today’s world, affecting individuals and sometimes entire societies. While it is very rare for a person to be possessed by a demon, history reveals some likely examples — including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, said Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth.
Father Amorth, who works as an exorcist in the Diocese of Rome, made the comments in an interview with Vatican Radio August 27. Father Amorth said every culture in history has shown an awareness of the existence of evil spirits. With the Bible, he said, these spirits were identified as rebellious angels who “tempt man to evil out of hatred for God.” “The devil can possess not only individuals but also entire groups and populations. For example, I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed by the devil,” he said.
“If one thinks of what was committed by people like Stalin or Hitler, certainly they were possessed by the devil. This is seen in their actions, in their behavior and in the horrors they committed,” he said.
“Therefore, society also needs to be defended against the devil,” he said.
Father Amorth said he thought one reason why the devil’s influence was high today is that Christian faith has weakened, replaced in many cases by superstition and an interest in the occult, which he said “open the way to demonic influences.” He said the church teaches that the devil is a pure spirit; he is not seen, but his effects can be seen, he said. Exorcism, he said, is a prayer made in the name of the church to liberate people stricken by the devil or by his evil influences.
Father Amorth gained notoriety in 2000 when he revealed that Pope John Paul II had performed an impromptu exorcism on a young woman who flew into an apparent rage at the end of a general audience at the Vatican.
In 1999, the Vatican issued a revised Rite of Exorcism, cautioning that cases of actual possession by devils were probably very rare. The church also has emphasized that before an exorcism is performed, it is important to make certain one is dealing with the devil and not a psychological or other illness.


President of HLI to expose the Devil

Front Royal, Va., May 25, 2007 (CNA) Fr. Tom Euteneuer, the president of Human Life International, wants to talk about a hot topic—exorcism and deliverance from the Devil. According to Euteneuer, the approach of Pentecost is all the more reason for to speak of the remedy to the Devil, the Holy Spirit.

His new book, “The Devil, His Minions, and His Activities,” will be published in the coming months. Its purpose is to put people in closer touch with the Holy Spirit, who defends us from the Devil, and to help us “experience God’s love as the protective shield against all his evil.”

Fr. Euteneuer also exposes the Devil for who he really is, using the words of Christ.
“The devil’s most serious indictment came from our Blessed Lord who called him, ‘a liar and the father of lies’, and ‘a murderer from the beginning’ (Jn 8:44). The New Testament refers to this origin of all wickedness nearly three hundred times to warn us of his presence and work.”

As Pentecost approaches, Father urges us to, “make a profound act of faith in the Holy Spirit, that, no matter how evil our times may be, God will never abandon to the power of evil those who call upon Him. Let us call upon the Holy Spirit to protect us and our loved ones and to renew the face of the earth!”


3rd National Conference of Exorcists to take place in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, July 10, 2007 (CNA) The Archdiocese of Mexico is organizing the 3rd National Conference of Exorcists to take place July 16-20 at the headquarters of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico in Mexico City, with international experts from around the world in attendance. The event is intended for exorcists, priests in general, and those who assist in the pastoral ministry to the possessed. Members of the laity who attend must present a letter from their priest confirming their active work in the ministry of exorcism.

Among those attending will be the president of the International Association of Exorcists, Father Gian Carlo Gramolazzo, Father Gabrielle Nanni, author of the book “Exorcisms“, and Father Francisco Bamonte, author of “Diabolical Possessions and Exorcisms“.

The themes that will be discussed during the conference include, “Demonology and Satanism according to the Magisterium of the Church,” and “Practical guides for exercising the ministry of healing, liberation and exorcism.”


Mexican exorcist criticizes priests who do not believe in the Devil

Mexico City, Mexico, July 24, 2007 (CNA) The coordinator of exorcists of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Pedro Mendoza, criticized the skepticism of some priests about the existence of the Devil and said that although there are not many cases of possession, there are many who suffer from demonic attraction, which is the result of man’s estrangement from God.

At the conclusion of the 3rd National Congress of Exorcists, Father Mendoza warned that those who do not believe in the existence of the Devil forget that it is a dogma of the faith, “no matter how much they want to explain (these phenomenon) as psychological or something else.”


Speaking to reporters, Father Mendoza said there are seven exorcists in the archdiocese and that the number is low because of the few cases of possession. But, he warned, there are many cases of individuals who suffer from demonic attraction as a result of estrangement from the faith, “which leads them to be interested in magic, witchcraft, spells, horoscopes and even death, and priests are not helping them because they don’t know how.”

He said the congress was a success as bishops were encouraged to address this issue in seminaries and thus train more priests to be exorcists.  One of the speakers at the event was Father Enrique Maldonado of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, who said it was necessary to distinguish between true demonic possession and mental illness. In this sense, he noted that of every 10,000 cases of alleged possession, only one is authentic. Therefore real experts are needed to distinguish between the two.

Father Jesus Yanez, who also addressed the congress, said demonic possession is characterized by four aspects: abhorrence for the sacred, the appearance of paranormal phenomenon, knowledge of things from afar and the ability to speak in languages that are unknown to the person when he or she is in a normal state.


The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads

By Nick Pisa December 29, 2007

The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism.

Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.

They have introduced courses for priests to combat what they call the most extreme form of “Godlessness.”

Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.

The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican “exorcist-in-chief,” to the online Catholic news service Petrus.

“Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on,” he said.

“Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.

“Thankfully, Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil – going back to the time he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” The CDF is the oldest Vatican department and was headed by Benedict from 1982, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, until he became Pope in 2005.

Father Amorth said that during his time at the department Benedict had not lost the chance to warn humanity of the risk from the Devil.

He said the Pope wants to restore a prayer seen as protection against evil that was traditionally recited at the end of Catholic Masses. The prayer, to St Michael the Archangel, was dropped in the 1960s by Pope John XXIII.

“The prayer is useful not only for priests but also for lay people in helping to fight demons,” he said.

Father Paolo Scarafoni, who lectures on the Vatican’s exorcism course, said interest in Satanism and the occult has grown as people lost faith with the church. He added: “People suffer and think that turning to the Devil can help solve their problems. We are being bombarded by requests for exorcisms.”

The Vatican is particularly concerned that young people are being exposed to the influence of Satanic sects through rock music and the Internet.

In theory, under the Catholic Church’s Canon Law 1172, all priests can perform exorcisms. But in reality only a select few are assigned the task. Under the law, practitioners must have “piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life.” The rite of exorcism involves a series of gestures and prayers to invoke the power of God and stop the “demon” influencing its victim.


Exorcist priest warns against “hidden knowledge” trend in Mexico

Saltillo, Mexico, January 20, 2008 (CNA) Fr. Jose Luis del Rio y Santiago of the Mexican Diocese of Saltillo, who carried out an exorcism during a healing Mass last Monday, warned against the trend of seeking supposed secret knowledge, and the consulting of healers and fortune tellers, saying such practices “open the door to Satanism.”

During the Mass celebrated at a local parish, a young woman with signs of possession was present, forcing Father del Rio to practice an exorcism in front of the entire congregation.

Father del Rio, who is authorized by the bishop to practice exorcisms in the diocese, warned that the practices of fortune telling, witchcraft and the occult are leading to an increasing number of cases of Satanic possession. “There are people who get involved in these kinds of practices without knowing that what they are doing is opening the door to the devil,” he stressed.

“People begin to see the occult and fortune telling as something natural and legitimate; and they watch TV programs on astrology, parapsychology and psychics.  They get carried away by their ignorance and can fall prey to occult practices. We must warn the faithful that these practices open the door to the devil,” he added.


The young girl who underwent the exorcism was able to leave the church with the help of her family. Father del Rio said she would “have to return for several more sessions in order to ensure her recovery.”


Satan Exists, and Christ Defeated Him
Gospel Commentary for 1st Sunday of Lent

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

VATICAN CITY, February 8, 2008 ( Demons, Satanism and other related phenomena are quite topical today, and they disturb a great part of our society.

Our technological and industrialized world is filled with magicians, wizards, occultism, spiritualism, fortune tellers, spell trafficking, amulets, as well as very real Satanic sects. Chased away from the door, the devil has come in through the window. Chased away by the faith, he has returned by way of superstition.

The episode of Jesus’ temptations in the desert that is read on the First Sunday of Lent helps us to have some clarity on this subject. First of all, do demons exist? That is, does the word “demon” truly indicate some personal being with intelligence and will, or is it simply a symbol, a manner of speaking that refers to the sum of the world’s moral evil, the collective unconscious, collective alienation, etc.?

Many intellectuals do not believe in demons in the first sense. But it must be noted that many great writers, such as Goethe and Dostoyevsky, took Satan’s existence very seriously. Baudelaire, who was certainly no angel, said that “the demon’s greatest trick is to make people believe that he does not exist.”

The principal proof of the existence of demons in the Gospels is not the numerous healings of possessed people, since ancient beliefs about the origins of certain maladies may have had some influence on the interpretation of these happenings. The proof is Jesus’ temptation by the demon in the desert. The many saints who in their lives battled against the prince of darkness are also proof. They are not like “Don Quixote,” tilting at windmills. On the contrary, they were very down-to-earth, psychologically healthy people.

If many people find belief in demons absurd, it is because they take their beliefs from books, they pass their lives in libraries and at desks; but demons are not interested in books, they are interested in persons, especially, and precisely, saints.

How could a person know anything about Satan if he has never encountered the reality of Satan, but only the idea of Satan in cultural, religious and ethnological traditions? They treat this question with great certainty and a feeling of superiority, doing away with it all as so much “medieval obscurantism.”

But it is a false certainty. It is like someone who brags about not being afraid of lions and proves this by pointing out that he has seen many paintings and pictures of lions and was never frightened by them. On the other hand, it is entirely normal and consistent for those who do not believe in God to not believe in the devil. It would be quite tragic for someone who did not believe in God to believe in the devil!

Yet the most important thing that the Christian faith has to tell us is not that demons exist, but that Christ has defeated them. For Christians, Christ and demons are not two equal, but rather contrary principles, as certain dualistic religions believe to be the case with good and evil. Jesus is the only Lord; Satan is only a creature “gone bad.” If power over men is given to Satan, it is because men have the possibility of freely choosing sides and also to keep them from being too proud (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7), believing themselves to be self-sufficient and without need of any redeemer. “Old Satan is crazy,” goes an African-American spiritual. “He shot me to destroy my soul, but missed and destroyed my sin instead.”

With Christ we have nothing to fear. Nothing and no one can do us ill, unless we ourselves allow it. Satan, said an ancient Father of the Church, after Christ’s coming, is like a dog chained up in the barnyard: He can bark and lunge as much as he wants, but if we don’t go near him, he cannot harm us.

In the desert Jesus freed himself from Satan to free us! This is the joyous news with which we begin our Lenten journey toward Easter.


Ritual of Dealing with Demons Undergoes a Revival
By Craig Whitlock Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, February 11, 2008

POCZERNIN, Poland This wind-swept village is bracing for an invasion of demons, thanks to a priest who believes he can defeat Satan. The Rev. Andrzej Trojanowski, a soft-spoken Pole, plans to build a “spiritual oasis” that will serve as Europe’s only center dedicated to performing exorcisms. With the blessing of the local Catholic archbishop and theological support from the Vatican, the center will aid a growing number of Poles possessed by evil forces or the devil himself, he said. “This is my task, this is my purpose — I want to help these people,” said Trojanowski, who has worked as an exorcist for four years. “There is a group of people who cannot get relief through any other practices and who need peace.”

Exorcism — the church rite of expelling evil spirits from tortured souls — is making a comeback in Catholic regions of Europe. Last July, more than 300 practitioners gathered in the Polish city of Czestochowa for the fourth International Congress of Exorcists.


About 70 priests serve as trained exorcists in Poland, about double the number of five years ago. An estimated 300 exorcists are active in Italy. Foremost among them: the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, 82, who performs exorcisms daily in Rome and is dean of Europe’s corps of demon-battling priests.

“People don’t pray anymore, they don’t go to church, they don’t go to confession. The devil has an easy time of it,” Amorth said in an interview. “There’s a lot more devil worship, people interested in satanic things and séances, and less in Jesus.”

Amorth and other priests said the resurgence in exorcisms has been encouraged by the Vatican, which in 1999 formally revised and upheld the rite for the first time in almost 400 years.

Although a Vatican official denied reports in December of a campaign to train more exorcists, supporters said informal efforts began under Pope John Paul II — himself an occasional demon chaser — and have accelerated under Pope Benedict XVI. A Catholic university in Rome began offering courses in exorcism in 2005 and has drawn students from around the globe.

One of the recruits is the Rev. Wieslaw Jankowski, a priest with the Institute for Studies on the Family, a counseling center outside Warsaw. He said priests at the institute realized they needed an exorcist on staff after encountering an increase in people plagued by evil.

Typical cases, he said, include people who turn away from the church and embrace
New Age therapies, alternative religions or the occult
Internet addicts and yoga devotees are also at risk, he said.

“This is a service which is sorely needed,” said Jankowski, who holds a doctorate in spiritual theology. “The number of people who need help is intensifying right now.”

Jankowski cited the case of a woman who asked for a divorce days after renewing her wedding vows as part of a marriage counseling program. What was suspicious, he said, was how the wife suddenly developed a passionate hatred for her husband.

“According to what I could perceive, the devil was present and acting in an obvious way,” he said. “How else can you explain how a wife, in the space of a couple of weeks, could come to hate her own husband, a man who is a good person?”

Jankowski said that an archbishop granted him the authority last October to perform exorcisms and that he’s been busy ever since. As for the afflicted wife? “We’re still working with her,” he said.

Exorcists said the people they help can be in the grip of evil to varying degrees. Only a small fraction, they said, are completely possessed by demons — which can cause them to display inhuman strength, speak in exotic tongues, recoil in the presence of sacred objects or overpower others with a stench.

In those cases, the exorcists must confront the devil directly, using the power of the church to order it to abandon its host. More often, however, priests perform what some of them refer to as “soft exorcisms,” using prayer to rid people of evil influences that control their lives.

Exorcisms remain a touchy subject even among priests who perform them, aware that the rite is associated with medieval witch-burnings and the 1973 Hollywood horror film, “The Exorcist.”

More recent horror stories have also taken their toll. In Germany, memories are still fresh of a 23-year-old Bavarian woman who died of starvation in 1976 after two priests — thinking she was possessed — subjected her to more than 60 exorcisms. In 2002, a German bishop resigned after a woman accused him of sexually abusing her during an exorcism.

Exorcists said they are careful not to treat people suffering from mental illness, and that they regularly consult with psychologists and physicians. At the same time, they said, conventional medical therapy often neglects spiritual ailments.

“My remedy is based on spiritual means, which cannot be replaced by any pharmaceutical remedies,” said Trojanowski, the priest who is overseeing plans for the new exorcism center. “I do not stop at the level of just treating symptoms. I’m very much interested in the soul of a person. As a priest, I keep asking questions a doctor will never ask.”

Trojanowski is a priest in the northwestern Polish port city of Szczecin. He said that he sees as many as 20 people a week who are under the influence of evil spirits, but that he needs more space to treat them properly. At his exorcism center, he said, people could check in for a few days and receive ministrations.

Plans for the center were announced in December after an archbishop gave approval to build it on church land in Poczernin, a village surrounded by cabbage fields about 20 miles outside Szczecin.

The news came as a bit of a shock to the villagers, who said they hadn’t been consulted and weren’t sure they liked the idea of demons coming home to roost.

“People are worried about the potential for crazy people coming here,” said Ksawery Nyks, 50, a longtime resident. He said most people were opposed unless the church could guarantee the exorcism center would have adequate security. Others were more sympathetic. “I don’t think it’s going to harm us,” said Romnalda Banach, 46, who runs a food shop on the muddy street that runs through the heart of the village. “Every person, if he or she needs help, should be able to get it somehow.”

Special correspondent Sarah Delaney in Rome contributed to this report.


Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 6:52 AM

Subject: Re: Ritual of Dealing with Demons Undergoes a Revival

Dear Michael,

Thanks for this “Polish article”.

As I am secretary to both organisations: AIE (Association of Exorcists International) and IAD (International Association for Deliverance), I would like to correct this article. For AIE I am the secretary for the English-speaking members and for IAD I am secretary general.


For the AIE: It has to be said that in 1993 several European Exorcists met to help each other and to see about the announced revision of the Exorcism Rites. Some of their recommendations have been adopted and officially it is laid down that both rites can be used.

The New Rite has certain simplifications, which some of the practising Exorcists prefer not to use, but rather stick with the in depth dealing old rite, which goes back to the time to the Tridentine Council.


Secondly in the years 1994 to 2002 Fr. Rufus Pereira had been appointed Vice president for AIE.

In 1995 he had already founded IAD, a parallel organisation (with agreement of Don Gabrielle Amorth, the then president of AIE), which considered the growing number and need of laypersons in the healing ministry and hence encountering interference by evil spirits. These laypeople needed help when and how to pray, what would have to be dealt with by appointed exorcists, and what could be dealt with by authority of a priest etc.

So far, many of the charismatic people in the healing ministry had been influenced, due to lack of information, by views and practices of Free churches or Pentecostals. This fact has caused confusion and grievances, as many time the manifestations during prayer time, were taken as deliverance, which is not the fact. It is under the authority of the Church that difficult cases will be freed for good. Exorcism belongs to the sacramentals and is based on the authority Jesus Christ has given the Church. There is NO deliverance of spiritual powers (Ephesians 6:10) given to any other name, but Jesus Christ. This is not mentioned in this article.


Thirdly AIE has statutes, which prescribe a meeting to exchange experience and accept teaching by qualified persons, every two years. Every other year there are National meetings of IAD. The meeting in Czestochowa was an IAD meeting and hence priests and lay persons were mingled. There were some exorcists present.

I do not think that the Father exorcists mentioned is a member of either of these two associations, but will check.

After retreats given in Madalenka and informations given by the German secretariate about these organisations, certain Polish priests joined the one or the other of the two organisations. They have been present since 1998 in all our meetings. From there further development took place in the Polish Church; under the inspiration of the Vatican, the last and the present Holy Father, who recognised the growing need (see Amorth’s remark about the lack of Church attendance in people’s lives!) for Deliverance and Exorcism.

Exorcism is needed when there is a possession. Most afflictions are not possessions by Satan. This needs the authority by the Church, transferred by the appointment of a specific priest to pray exorcism. This priest must not necessarily be permanently appointed.

In Italy (closest to the Vatican) in every diocese new exorcists have been appointed. This is followed closely by other countries, but alas not all European countries are open to this guidance.

Fr. Rufus Pereira, who originally founded IAD, is still its president. There are national offices, usually organised by language, rather then nationality. The French office is an exception, the IAD there is a direct member of AIE, which is due to the registration procedure by the last secretary, hence its rules are the same as AIE, and they do not take ordinary lay persons, unless approved helpers to exorcists as members.

Please forward this information and give my e-mail address to correct all sorts of mistakes in this article. Also we are not disclosing the venue of these meetings. All conferences are on invitation ONLY, due to possibly wrong publicity. Let the people who wrote this article know. In Christ, Erika


Catholic officials plan “exorcism center” in Poland

Washington DC, February 12, 2008 (CNA) A retreat center that some have billed as Europe’s only center dedicated to performing exorcisms is being planned to be built in a village in the northwest of Poland, the Washington Post reports.

Father Andrzej Trojanowski, the priest leading the project, says he plans to build a “spiritual oasis.”

“This is my task, this is my purpose — I want to help these people,” said Father Trojanowski, who has worked as an exorcist for four years, according to the Washington Post. “There is a group of people who cannot get relief through any other practices and who need peace.”

“This is a service which is sorely needed,” said Jankowski, who holds a doctorate in spiritual theology. “The number of people who need help is intensifying right now.”

Father Wieslaw Jankowski, a priest with the Institute for Studies on the Family near Warsaw, will also serve the new center.  He said that priests at the institute realized they needed an exorcist on staff after they encountered an increase in people suffering from evil. 

Father Jankowski said typical cases included people who turned away from the Church, embracing New Age therapies, alternative religions, or the occult.  He said internet addicts and yoga devotees were also at risk.

According to Father Trojanowski, he sees as many as 20 people a week who are under the influence of evil.

“My remedy is based on spiritual means, which cannot be replaced by any pharmaceutical remedies,” said Father Trojanowski. “I do not stop at the level of just treating symptoms. I’m very much interested in the soul of a person. As a priest, I keep asking questions a doctor will never ask.”

Exorcists consider only a small fraction of people to be completely possessed by demons, displaying supernatural strength or revulsion towards sacred objects and speaking in exotic languages.  Such cases require a direct confrontation with demons.

Usually, priests perform “soft exorcisms,” praying to rid people of evil influences controlling their lives.  They are also careful not to treat people suffering from mental illness, regularly consulting with psychologists and physicians.

The center is to be built on church land in Poczernin, a village twenty miles outside the town of Stettin.  There, afflicted people could check in for a few days and receive care.

Local residents worried the center would not have adequate security.

“People are worried about the potential for crazy people coming here,” said Ksawery Nyks, 50, a longtime resident, the Washington Post reports.

Romnalda Banach, 46, said she didn’t think the center would harm the village.  “Every person, if he or she needs help, should be able to get it somehow,” she said.

Father Trojanowski suggested newspaper reports sensationalized the center, which is still in its planning phase.

“The media call it an exorcism center, I call it a spiritual retreat,” he said, according to the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.


Exorcisms ‘more dangerous than Pagan beliefs’,23739,23232311-3102,00.html

Courier Mail February 18, 2008 Pagans have hit out at the Catholic Church after a church spokesman blamed an increase in exorcisms on people dabbling in paganism. One priest, who asked not to be named, said he was carrying out at least one exorcism a fortnight. “There has been a recruitment of pagan practices, and it’s sheer poison.” His claim has provoked an angry response from the Pagan Awareness Network (PAN), an association representing Wiccans, pagans, and other followers of nature-based faiths.

“A pagan ritual is no more dangerous than going to a church, a temple, or a mosque,” says PAN president David Garland. “The Catholic Church is once again trying to create a moral panic about devil-worship and the occult. This kind of fear-mongering belongs in the Middle Ages, not in the 21st century.

“Exorcisms endanger lives and physical safety. Anyone worried that they might be possessed by spirits should seek referral to a psychiatrist or other mental health expert, not a witch-doctor in a priest’s collar. The Catholic Church should ban this barbaric practice.”

In 2007, a New Zealand woman died after a botched exorcism in Wellington. Nine participants in the ritual have since been charged with manslaughter.

In June 2005, in Romania, a 23-year-old nun was found crucified to a wall in her convent room. She had been undergoing exorcism with Father Daniel Corogeanu, a Romanian Orthodox priest, who consequently was charged with her murder.

Mr Garland said that according to 2006 Census, there were more than 40,000 Pagans of different denominations across Australia, “all remarkably unaffected by demonic possession”.

“Pagans see the Devil as a Judeo-Christian invention, and do not believe in his existence,” he said.



Archbishop debunks exorcism spike claims

March 2, 2008 Reports of a priest dealing with an increasingly heavy load of exorcisms due to an outbreak of demonic possessions are news to Archbishop John Bathersby.

The claims were recently made in a Brisbane media outlet.

The media report was linked to an initiative announced by the Pope’s exorcist-in-chief Fr Gabriele Amorth, 82, to “fight the devil head on” by training hundreds of priests as exorcists.

In an interview last week, Archbishop Bathersby told a Brisbane radio station that the claims of an increased frequency of exorcisms in Queensland were a “complete surprise” to him. He said during his entire time as archbishop he had only been approached “four to six times” by someone looking for an exorcist.

In response to a question from the interviewer, the archbishop said he had “never been present at an exorcism”.

Archbishop Bathersby said the archdiocese did possess a priest with the authority to carry out exorcisms, as did most dioceses. “I’ve certainly had no reports from this priest that he was getting any busier in this regard.”

The archbishop did acknowledge that it was possible that a group of people within society may be interested “in evil and in the devil”.

He noted that belief in the existence of the devil goes back to “scripture and life itself” and is a “regular part of Christian faith from the time of Christ, and still is”.


Sacrament of Penance in Crisis, Says Bishop Urges More Training for “Special” Cases

VATICAN CITY, March 6, 2008 ( The sacrament of the confession is experiencing a crisis, and the Church needs its pastors to be better trained to overcome some particular difficulties, says the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary. Bishop Gianfranco Girotti said this in reference to a course taking place this week on the “internal forum” — questions of conscience — organized by the tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary. He said the seminar, which ends Saturday, has been promoted to “strengthen the training of priests, who are the ministers of reconciliation.”
“As with vocations and the institution of marriage,” the regent told L’Osservatore Romano this week, “so also the sacrament of penance must confront a period of crisis, which though it began a number of decades ago, is becoming much worse.”
Bishop Girotti recalled the results from a study conducted by the Milan-based Catholic University of the Sacred Heart to underscore the serious state of the current difficulties in understanding the sacrament of confession, “which is so key to the health and salvation of souls.”
According to the 1998 study, 30% of the faithful in Italy do not believe that priests are needed in confessionals. In fact, 10% consider the priest gets in the way of a direct dialogue with the Lord, while 20% say it is difficult for them to speak with another person about their own sins. The prelate told the Vatican daily that the crisis isn’t just among the lay faithful, but has begun “to cross the door into seminaries, colleges and ecclesiastic institutions.”
During Bishop Girotti’s intervention in the course, he paid special attention to “some unique aspects of the confessor’s mission, with regard to certain categories of penitents classified as ‘special’.”
The first type are divorced people and couples that are not married, with regard to whom “the doctrine and official Church practice try follow a path that nevertheless allows us to remain faithful to the mandate to administer God’s forgiveness and mercy.” Because of this, “the confessor has the obligation to propose solutions, from time to time, that would heal the situation or transform it into a relationship of friendship and solidarity, the only conditions necessary to once again receive the Eucharist.” Bishop Girotti said that confessors should always be especially caring in dealing with people who are divorced and remarried, who “should have their own particular place in the caring love shown by the pastor of souls, and not just in this extreme situation, but also in the daily pastoral activities.”
“A pastoral practice inspired by the Gospel,” he added, “cannot and should not ever make a person despair.”
The regent said the confessor also needs to make a special effort in dealing with those who are consecrated members of the Church, or candidates for the priesthood or consecrated life. In this case, he said, the confessor should position themselves as a “just judge” or “good doctor of the spirit”, always remembering that “hardness of heart has often been fatal for many people”. The bishop said the confessor “should never assume an apocalyptic tone.”
Bishop Girotti recalled that regarding those who display homosexual tendencies in their lives as they approach the seminary and holy orders, “the Church cannot admit into the seminary or holy orders those who practice homosexuality, display deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, or adhere to the so-called ‘gay culture,’ that is, those candidates who display an exclusive same sex attraction in dealing with people of the same sex, regardless of whether or not they’ve had erotic experiences.”


In these cases, he said, the confessor must know how to distinguish between “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies,” and those that are “not deeply rooted”. In the first case, exclusion from the seminary is called for; in the second case, at least three years without a recurrence is required in order to receive admission to the seminary.
Bishop Girotti then took time to discuss some “delicate and complex cases”, such as diabolic, mystical or supposedly supernatural phenomena, scruples and relapses. Although the intervention of an exorcist is recommended for diabolical phenomena and expert confessors in cases of mysticism, he said the situation is different in the case of scruples or relapses.

The bishop explained that scrupulous penitents are those that those that go from one confessor to another out of fear that the first one or the following ones did not understand their sins, or they feel the need to confess them again. Relapsing souls, added the regent, are those that continue to fall in the same sin that they continue to confess. In these cases, he said, the confessor should act wisely to step out to meet the needs of the faithful, helping them understand the truth. “And so, this is the first lesson given to the course,” concluded Bishop Girotti, “much patience is needed in the confessional.”


Exorcisms, cruel techniques’ part of Mercy Ministry treatment

March 17, 2008 The peak body for mental health professionals has issued a warning on the potential dangers of faith-based cures for mental health problems.

The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed allegations of incorrect treatment of several troubled young women by the Christian group, Mercy Ministries, which is linked to the Hillsong Church.

On its website, Mercy Ministries claims to treat women aged 16 to 28 years old by “providing homes and care for young women suffering the effects of eating disorders, self harm, abuse, depression, unplanned pregnancies and other life controlling issues.”

But three former patients told the Herald that the programs involved “emotionally cruel and medically unproven techniques”, such as exorcisms and “separation contracts” between friends.

The girls reportedly left the Mercy centre suicidal, after being told they were possessed by demons.

The newspaper report also claims Mercy Ministries received the women’s Centrelink payments during their residential stay.

Mental Health Council of Australia spokesman Simon Tatz says it is important people receive treatment that is evidence-based, for instance psychiatry and certain drug treatments.

“It’s about getting people into treatments that are proven to work,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Federal Human Resources Minister Joe Ludwig says the allegations regarding Centrelink are being investigated.

Meanwhile, coffee chain Gloria Jean’s says it will continue its sponsorship and fundraising of the Mercy Ministries program. A spokeswoman says the company was told the allegations were unfounded.


Rome’s Exorcist Gives inside Look at Devil
Urges Separating Possession from Psychiatric Problems

ROME, April 11, 2008 ( Some of the mystery surrounding the devil and exorcism is being unveiled in a television and Internet report series, detailing the work of the exorcist of the Diocese of Rome.
Society of St. Paul Father Gabriele Amorth, Rome’s exorcist for the past 21 years and a specialist in the figure of Mary, explained in the first edition of the series how he performs exorcisms.
“I go to one of Rome’s churches, to a parish that is closed during the day,” he said. “There is Mass in the morning and then the church is closed. There I perform the difficult exorcisms. I always work with seven to 10 people who help me, and use a small bed. Sometimes we need to tie people down or simply subdue them.”
With Christ, the priest said, it is possible to overcome the devil: “The exorcist acts in the name of Jesus and with the strength that comes from Jesus.”

The first question Father Amorth addressed in the report is if the devil exists: “I respond with the words of John Paul II, who was once asked this question: ‘Your Holiness, I find many bishops who don’t believe in the devil.’ And John Paul II responded: ‘One who doesn’t believe in the devil doesn’t believe in the Gospel.’
“The devil is an angel, and therefore, a pure spirit created good by God and who perverted himself because he rebelled against God. Therefore, he maintains all the characteristics proper of a pure spirit, such as a very large intelligence, immensely bigger than ours.” The devil is pleased by the way he is generally represented — with wings and a tail, horns, as a bat, etc. — because these images make him seem ridiculous and help people to believe that he does not exist, the exorcist reported.
Father Amorth suggested that diabolic problems be separated from psychiatric ones; and to do so an exorcist is needed in every diocese to help in discernment.

“Normally when a person experiences these conflicts and problems, the first thing he does is see a doctor and psychiatrist,” he said. “It is very difficult to distinguish the devil’s action from a psychological problem. The person goes to a psychiatrist and after years of therapy obtains no result.
“Then he begins to suspect that the problem is not a natural one and goes to a conjurer from whom he obtains even greater harm. This is what normally happens. At this point, it is possible that someone more experienced in these matters suggests an exorcist.”
The exorcist confirmed that Satan’s great foe is the Virgin Mary. He explained: “On one occasion an exorcist friend of mine asked the devil what most hurts him about Our Lady, what most annoys him. He responded, ‘That she is the purest of all creatures and that I am the filthiest; that she is the most obedient of all creatures and that I am the most rebellious; that she is the one who committed no sin and thus always conquers me.'”
Father Amorth affirmed that on some occasions, God forces the Prince of Lies to tell the truth, however, the devil’s main struggle is to make man fall into sin. “To lead man towards evil is to make him fall into sin; this is the devil’s preferred activity and we are all subject to it from our birth until our death.”
According to Father Amorth, Mary is a key figure in the fight against the devil’s tricks, especially since she herself was tempted: “Mariology is my field and I have often been asked if Mary was tempted by the devil. Definitely. When? From her birth until her death. But she always triumphed.”


Exorcists are summoned from abroad to drive the demons away

By Roger Boyes in Berlin, The Sunday Times May 22, 2008

Hundreds of Germans, tortured by inner voices, are on the search for priests who can free them from what they believe to be the grip of the Devil, according to an extraordinary radio documentary that has stirred an awkward debate about exorcism in the Catholic Church.

“Over the past year alone I have received requests from around 350 people who think they are possessed by an evil spirit,” says Father Joerg Mueller, who heads a group of priests, doctors and therapists to deal with the problem. “Therapy hasn’t worked for them; they want exorcism — a prayer that can free them.”

Father Mueller, who is based in a Bavarian monastery, was talking to a team from WDR, the state radio network, which was allowed to record extracts from eight exorcisms.

A Polish exorcist, named only as Father Wiktor, suggested that this was only a fraction of the actual number seeking help. “I would say that every day at least one person is undergoing a full-scale exorcism,” he told WDR.

This has come as a shock to the Catholic Church in Germany, which has shied away from exorcism since the tragic case of Anneliese Michel* in 1973. Ms Michel, 23, from a strongly Catholic Bavarian village, had epilepsy and suffered from hallucinations. Two priests were authorised to perform an exorcism. They performed the ritual 67 times until she died, having starved herself to 31kg (68lb). After her death the priests and her parents were sentenced to six months’ suspended jail sentences for not referring her for medical treatment.

That verdict and the publicity — two films were made about the case including The Exorcism of Emily Rose in 2005 — scared the Church hierarchy. Permission for a full exorcism now has to be granted by a bishop, but few permits have been given. In a poll of German dioceses, only Paderborn admitted to having authorised three exorcisms.

Frustrated by the lack of exorcists in their own country, disturbed Germans are turning to esoteric spiritual healers and priests in Switzerland and Poland. Andrzej Trojanowski, a Polish priest, even has plans to set up an exorcism centre in Poczernin, on the Polish-German border.

WDR broadcast some of the sessions of the exorcists with Ms Michel. She is heard growling and barking. “Tell the truth in the name of the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary!” commands Father Arnold Renz. The answer comes in the form of a long, terrifying scream.

The recording is making the Church leadership more reluctant to address the needs of the supposedly possessed. Yet by doing so the bishops are flying in the face of the Pope, who urged a convention of exorcists to “carry on your important work in the service of the Church”.

Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican exorcist-in-chief, has performed the ritual more than 40,000 times.

The Vatican aim appears to be to place at least one exorcist in each diocese to ensure that the distressed do not drift away from the Church. In Germany, however, that drift is already happening.

“I would say that 90 per cent of those who think they are possessed by the Devil are mentally ill,” said Father Mueller. A large number of them have suffered sexual abuse as children. Some think that an exorcism is easier than long years of psychotherapy. He added: “But about ten per cent of the people who approach us have some sign of demonic possession and then you have to turn to special, charismatic men and women who have the gift of being able to feel and recognise if demons have entered someone.”

Only a handful qualify for exorcism. He gave the example of a widow who was convinced that her late husband had returned, in demonic form, to taunt her. She was offered psychotherapy.


Counting the Devil

300 Estimated number of trained exorcists in Italy

70 Estimated number of exorcists in Poland

84 Pages in the Vatican’s 1999 Latin “rule book” on exorcism

Source: Times archives



By Fr Dave Considine

Another famous case of demonic possession occurring in modern times but not as well known is the case of Anneliese Michel.

Let me start out by saying that I have no doubt in my mind this girl was indeed possessed. And how do I know this? Although I was not personally involved with this case, there were over forty audio recording that were made during the actual exorcisms of Anneliese between 1975 and 1976. I did have a unique opportunity to acquire some of them and have been able to study some of these exorcism recordings personally, and If you the reader were able to hear even 15 minutes of these recordings, you too would also be convinced that this girl was under diabolical attack.

Anneliese Michel was born on September 21, 1952 to parents Josef and Anna Michel in Klingenburg, Germany. Brought up in a devout Roman Catholic family, Anneliese starts out in life normally until 1968. During the fall of 1968 Annelies suffers a “seizure” after which she is examined and diagnosed by a neurologist. Her parents are told she has (Grand Mal) type “Epilepsy”.

In 1970 after a long stay at Germany’s Wurzburgh Psychiatric Hospital, she is finally released to go home with her parents. At this point she is suffering from extreme depression do to her disability, and she begins to notice strange things occurring while in prayer. In her own words, “I saw faces that would look at me grimacing and snarling”; voices would also be heard by Anneliese telling her she would “stew in hell”.

By now it is 1973 and the demonic attacks along with the depression are getting so strong that Anneliese stops seeking psychiatric treatment at the clinic, as she feels treatment is of no use. Along with her family she seeks the council of the Roman Catholic Church.

After meeting with church officials Anneliese is told to continue with psychiatric treatment, but is put under the supervision of Fr. Ernest Alt. After close examination by Fr. Ernest Alt he is finally convinced of demonic possession, and asks for the church officials to give permission for the Rites of Exorcism to be initiated. His request is rejected on the grounds of insufficient proof of possession. But unfortunately by this time Anneliese is suffering from full possession. With fits of rage she would mutilate herself and destroy any holy objects nearby.

Finally, in 1975 permission is granted by the Bishop of Wurzburgh for exorcism. Fr. Ernest Alt and Fr. Arnold Renz are assigned to perform the Rites of Exorcism. From September 1975 to July of 1976 these rites were performed once a week, sometimes even twice, and all manner of demonic chaos would and did occur. This included the superhuman strength in which Anneliese exhibited during possession, sometimes taking up to three to four men to restrain her from hurting herself or the exorcists.

During these sessions unearthly voices would also be heard. Sometimes up to five or six voices would be heard during the exorcisms. One disturbing fact is that the demon was causing Anneliese to avoid any type of food all during the exorcism and now physically it was creating a very dangerous physical situation for her.

By June of 1976 Anneliese is suffering from malnutrition and has contracted pneumonia, being so ill it is hard for her to even carry on. On July 1, 1976, the last day of the exorcism, the demonic spirit in control of Anneliese says to the exorcists “beg for absolution”. She then collapses and is brought to her bed.

That night her final words would be, “Mother, I’m afraid “. The next day July 7, 1976 at twelve o’clock noon Anneliese Michel died.


Woman sues priest over exorcism

June 25, 2008 A Singaporean woman who claims to be suffering from post trauma stress disorder following an exorcism has sued a priest for damages over the affair.

Today Online reports the long running saga resumed in Singapore’s High Court after a seven month hiatus.

Ms Amutha Valli Krishnan’s lawyer told the court that the 52 year old “is not in a position to give evidence”.

When asked by defence lawyers if her absence was voluntary or based on medical grounds, he added that it was on the advice of her current psychiatrist, who is expected to take the stand later this week.

Ms Amutha Valli is suing the Church, two Catholic priests and six helpers for damages arising from assault, battery and false imprisonment during the alleged incident in August 2004.

When she took the stand over two days last November, her behaviour was near hysterical, breaking down several times, screaming at some church helpers and not being able to recall details of the incident and her life.


The alleged exorcism allegedly left her with post-traumatic stress disorder and she was unable to continue working as a tutor.

Yesterday, psychiatrist Ong Thiew Chai, who attended to Ms Amutha Valli for close to three years after the incident, testified that the trauma caused by the alleged event “had changed her personality drastically in addition to leaving her in a state of severe depression, phobia and anxiety.”


Westminster Exorcist Says Promiscuity can Lead to Demonic Possession

By Hilary White WESTMINSTER, UK, August 15, 2008 ( A priest of Westminster, the leading diocese of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, has written that promiscuity, whether homosexual or heterosexual, can lead to dire spiritual consequences, in addition to the dangers to physical health. Promiscuity, as well as homosexuality and pornography, says 73 year-old Fr. Jeremy Davies*, is a form of sexual perversion and can lead to demonic possession. Offering what may be an explanation for the explosion of homosexuality in recent years, Fr. Davies said, “Among the causes of homosexuality is a contagious demonic factor.”

Fr. Davies continues: “Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits.”

*To order Fr. Davies’ book:


“Some very unpleasant things must be mentioned because young people, especially, are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect and warn them,” he told the Catholic Herald.

He also said that Satan is responsible for having blinded most secular humanists to the “dehumanising effects of contraception and abortion and IVF, of homosexual ‘marriages’, of human cloning and the vivisection of human embryos in scientific research.” Extreme secular humanism, “atheist scientism”, is comparable to “rational satanism” and these are leading Europe into a dangerous state of apostasy. “Only by a genuine personal decision for Christ and the Church can someone separate himself from it.”


Fr. Davies’ (an Oxford graduate who is also a qualified physician) comments come in conjunction with the publication of his new book, entitled, “Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism in Scripture and Practice” published earlier this year by the Catholic Truth Society (CTS).

In the Catholic Church, exorcisms can only be performed by a priest who has the “express” permission of his bishop. According to the Code of Canon Law, only experienced priests can be chosen who exhibit, “piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life.” Before the official rite of exorcism is used, the subject must also be examined thoroughly by doctors and psychiatrists to rule out any non-spiritual causes of his difficulties and physicians are often asked to assist during the course of an exorcism.


Fr. Davies also warns in his book against so-called New Age and occult practices, as well as trendy exercise and “spiritual healing” regimens derived from eastern religions.

“The thin end of the wedge (soft drugs, yoga for relaxation, horoscopes just for fun and so on) is more dangerous than the thick end because it is more deceptive – an evil spirit tries to make his entry as unobtrusively as possible.”

“Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (e.g. reiki), any courses that promise the peace that Christ promises (e.g. enneagrams), any alternative therapy with its roots in eastern religion (e.g. acupuncture).” Needless to say, overtly occult activities such as séances and witchcraft are “direct invitations to the Devil which he readily accepts.”

Fr. Davies was appointed exorcist of the Westminster Archdiocese in 1986 after a four month training period in Rome. In 1993 he co-founded, with Italy’s Father Gabriele Amorth, the International Association of Exorcists which now has hundreds of members worldwide. In 2000, Fr. Davies told the Independent newspaper that incidents of demonic possession are rising dramatically along with the increase of New Age beliefs and practices, ignorance of the Bible and a growth in spiritual confusion. “At the centre of this is man’s ever-growing pride and attempted self-reliance. Man trying to build a better world without God – another Tower of Babel,” he said.


In 2005, the Vatican recently made headlines around the world by publicly announcing the launch of a course on exorcism for priests. The Church’s writings on exorcism and demonic possession say that a person can be influenced or even possessed by demonic forces when they are “hardened” in serious sin and the Church specifies that these include people who are involved in heavy drug use, violence and sexual perversions. It is also noted that the “heinous crime” of abortion exacerbates these. Italian exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth writes that it is particularly difficult to liberate a victim who is guilty of abortion, and that this can take a “very long time”.



Theology instructors in favor of teaching

Turkey August 18, 2008 The Ministry of Education consulted theology instructors on the re-evaluation of theology classes’ curricula and textbooks for the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. From 28 different cities, 270 instructors responded to the survey, offering quite interesting responses: “Students can not learn enough about their own belief systems. How to worship should be demonstrated in class. Belief systems such as monotheism, polytheism and atheism are not included in the students’ best interest. It is possible to introduce some superstitious belief systems with regard to belief systems they are familiar with. For example, ideologies such as Satanism, reincarnation and meditation can be taught as they are concepts students have heard of.”


INDIA: Satan Worshippers Suspected In Disappearance of Consecrated Hosts
By George Kommattathil November 7, 2008
KANNUR, India (UCAN) Catholics in a southern Indian village suspect the involvement of Satan worshippers in the disappearance of consecrated hosts from a shrine.
“We are very hurt that the Blessed Sacrament was stolen,” Father Ancil Peter, pastor of Our Lady of Dolores Parish in Vellarivayal, told UCA News on Nov. 1. “We strongly suspect Satan worshippers are behind this horrific act.”
The incident occurred at a popular shrine dedicated to Saint Anthony in Karaparambu, a substation of the parish in Kannur diocese, Kerala state, 2,350 kilometers south of New Delhi.
According to Father Peter, parishioners found the shrine open and the ciborium containing the holy hosts missing on Oct. 22 when they came for weekly Mass.
On the same day, parishioners gathered at the shrine to conduct special prayers to atone for the sacrilege. They recited the rosary and conducted adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and penitential services.
Police have registered a case but have yet to arrest anyone.
P. Paul, parish council secretary, said local Catholics suspect the hosts were taken to conduct a “Black Mass.” The 42-year-old lay leader explained they “don’t suspect Hindu fanatics because this is a Catholic stronghold.” Catholics would have dismissed the incident as a case of theft if the intruders had taken money from the donation box, he added.
Father Clement Langen, Kannur diocese’s financial administrator, told UCA News on Nov. 1, “It is heard that Black Mass is prevalent in this region” but that the Church has no “explicit evidence to prove it because Satanists keep their activities highly secretive.”
Abraham Jacob, a lay evangelist who has researched the prevalence of Satanism and Freemasonry in Kerala, said he has heard of people stealing consecrated hosts from Catholic churches and giving them to Satan worshippers for huge amounts of money.
Jacob suspects Catholics and Muslims are involved in the Black Masses but has no solid proof where they hold them. A Black Mass, he explained, is a parody of the Catholic Mass in which God is mocked and the devil is worshipped.
Jacob said Church people began noticing missing consecrated hosts after the Church introduced the practice of receiving Communion in the hand. “We assume the missing consecrated hosts have gone to the Satanists,” he continued. “But until the culprits are arrested, it is hard to confirm.”
Father Harshid Dev, who manages a retreat center in Peratta, another village in Kannur district, has printed and distributed a leaflet on Satanism and the Black Mass to educate Catholics.
The priest, a member of the Indian Missionary Society, told UCA News on Nov. 1 that Satan worshippers spread their message through tattoos, t-shirts and upside-down crosses. “Satanic symbols are available across Kerala. This is part of a hidden agenda. Catholics are not fully aware of the challenging situation,” he maintained.
Father Dev added that he had met three Catholic youths involved in Satanism when he was working in New Delhi a few years ago and managed to bring them back to the Catholic fold.
While he admits he has not yet met anyone involved in Satanism in Kerala, he wants the Church to seriously educate Catholics about the potential threat. “Unfortunately, even the Church people are unaware of the growing influence of Satanists in our society,” he said. See also page 155


Exorcists for all African dioceses: Synod

October 26, 2009
In its final recommendations, the African Synod has denounced corruption, called for urgent dialogue with Islam and traditional religions, recommended that each bishop name an exorcist, and denounced Maputo Protocol provisions for legalization of abortion…




VATICAN CITY, October 10, 2009 (VIS) The Tenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning in the Vatican’s Synod Hall in the presence of 211 Synod Fathers … Extracts from some of the Synod Father’s speeches are given below:

BISHOP JOSEPH EFFIONG EKUWEM OF UYO, NIGERIA. “Paul the Apostle reminds us that we do battle with principalities and powers of the rulers of darkness and he asks us to arm ourselves in order to resist their manipulations. … The Church recognised this and … not only provided the rite of
but made room for the exorcists. This seems to have fallen into disuse over the last few decades. May I therefore suggest: (1) That an authentic catechesis, deeply biblical and theological, be provided and possibly offered as a course in our theological faculties. A simpler version may also be provided for teaching the faithful. (2) A new rite based on the old rite of exorcism be put in place for use by priests. (3) Each ordinary … should appoint an exorcist for his particular Church. We owe our people according to our teaching office, to teach them and save them from the claws of false belief and terrible occult practices like witchcraft“.


Audio of Talk by Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, an Evening with an Exorcist November 14, 2009
In An Evening with an Exorcist, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer explains the anatomy of an exorcism.  As a practicing exorcist, he discusses how a person may become possessed and what goes on during an exorcism. He also explains the connection between abortion and demonic possession, from the abortion demon’s invitation into the US with the Supreme Court’s passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973 to the ritualized sacrifice of unborn children that goes on in Planned Parenthood “clinics” today.

Exorcism is “Christ’s victory over the devil” and “the vocation of the Church Militant.” 

Listen as Rev. Euteneuer strengthens your faith and encourages you to join in the spiritual battle against the culture of death in order to “exorcise this demon from our country.” 


The Nature of Satan and the Church’s War against Him

By Thomas J. Euteneuer December 2009
I cast thee out, thou unclean spirit, along with the least encroachment of the wicked enemy, and every phantom and diabolical legion. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, depart and vanish from this creature of God. For it is He Who commands thee, He Who ordered thee cast down from the heights of heaven into the nethermost pit of the earth. He it is Who commands thee, Who once ordered the sea and the wind and the storm to obey…. Him thou shalt fear! — Roman Ritual, Rite of Exorcism
The awesome prayers of the Church’s Rite of Exorcism (to be quoted in this column) are nothing short of a holy war carried out in the bosom of the Church against man’s mortal enemy: Satan. The fiend is made to know from the first moment of the exorcism that he is being assaulted by a superior spiritual authority that has the power to cast him out of the abode he has set up in the person he possesses, and that there is nothing he can do about it but resist as far as his strength will last. Then, with a word of command and the Church’s unmatched spiritual power, he is sent to the place he most fears: Calvary, the place where all evil was judged by Christ.
It is the constant teaching of the Church that the devil and his angels were created good but chose of their own free will to reject God. It is almost unimaginable that these beings, so close to God and with so much insight into His goodness, could reject Him. But I learned the truth behind this teaching firsthand in an exorcism I performed some years ago. When I commanded the demon to look at the crucifix and to bow down before the One the image represented, the demon answered me with a steely, bone-chilling malice that is impossible to duplicate. He simply uttered one word, Never. That “never” of a demon is his eternal and irrevocable choice to reject God, and unfortunately for us, he is adamant that we join him in that great apostasy.
The Book of Revelation tells us that when the devil was cast down by the valiant archangel Michael, “his tail swept a third of the stars from the sky” (12:4). This has been commonly interpreted in Church history as the rebellion of a third of God’s other angels, who joined Lucifer in his apostasy. That was the first and most serious rebellion of God’s creatures against Him. While two-thirds of the holy angels remained faithful in their time of testing, that wicked one-third comprises the Satanic army the human race contends with on a daily basis. It is important for us to realize that the fallen angels are in this war for keeps. They are deadly serious about their mission to bring us into their rebellion and thus separate us eternally from God. Their prize is our eternal human soul.
Despite all of this, it is amazing how naïve and careless people can be toward these creatures that “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” Even serious Christians sometimes place too much emphasis on Satan, either out of fear or out of spiritual immaturity, and inadvertently give him more attention or credit for the evils of the world than he merits:


The devil doesn’t turn traffic lights red to make us late for work, or make us forget about the water we leave boiling on the stove. The devil is not responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives. In fact, such over-spiritualizing of human problems often masks a serious evasion of responsibility for the problems we must address through human means without recourse to spiritual explanations. The devil loves to indulge the nonsense of those who see his presence around every corner but miss the obvious natural reasons for their problems.

Make way, thou horrible creature, make way, thou monster, make way for Christ, in Whom thou has found nothing of thy works. For He has stripped thee of thy might and laid waste thy kingdom. He has overcome thee and put thee in chains…. He has cast thee into exterior darkness….

The Church is clear-eyed about the devil’s existence and demands that we not minimize the real danger he presents to our salvation. Satan positively gloats when we indulge in Satanic-themed books and movies, or play seriously hateful video games because we see it as just “harmless” entertainment. I once had to perform an exorcism on a young man who had become infested with demons because of his obsession with a Satanic role-playing video game titled Diablo, Spanish for “devil,” that’s every bit as evil as its name portends. I have also exorcised youths and adults who opened themselves up to evil by spell-casting, playing with Ouija boards, demon-conjuring, and visiting psychics. None of these is mindless entertainment; each is a tool of the devil.
Our society is rife with soft occult forces that are unleashing a Pandora’s Box of demonic trickery on us in the form of “healing” and New Age-style deceptions. People are looking for stimulation and care in all the wrong places. Reiki, yoga, energy therapy, and other anti-Christian practices come dressed up as wholesome band-aids to our problems and deceive many with promises of health, wealth, and entertainment.
The devil is also quite pleased when we act as de facto agnostics, careless about growth in virtue, casually falling into sin, skipping Mass for no reason, or refusing to draw clear lines between good and evil in our home, work, or social environments. The callous disregard of the demonic threat to our souls is a great victory for the master deceiver and his troops.
Demons are not bound by the human limits of flesh and blood. They are intelligent and crafty. They don’t have to eat, sleep, or fulfill family obligations. In fact, they spend their “time” in a relentless pursuit of the best ways to destroy our souls, and the only thing that stands between us and those malicious beings is a Church that cares for our souls.

God the Father commands thee, God the Son commands thee, God the Holy Spirit commands thee! The mystery of the Cross commands thee! The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and all the other saints commands thee! The blood of the martyrs commands thee!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the “dramatic situation of ‘the whole world [which] is in the power of the evil one’ makes man’s life a battle” (#409). We are all called to be combatants on the side of Christ against the forces of wickedness all around us. St. Padre Pio used to say that the battlefield between God and the devil is the human soul; it is here where we must fight against the power of temptation to sin. Not even our Lord in His human nature was exempt from fighting this good fight. He was under constant assault during His earthly ministry. For us, the tactical weapons the Church gives us for this combat are the mighty sacraments that attack sin repeatedly and effectively: baptism and confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, and even the anointing of the sick, which also brings sacramental pardon of sins. Every exorcist will tell you that the Sacrament of Penance is much more powerful than exorcism because it blots out the precondition for demonic control over us, which is sin. How fortunate we are that we have not been deprived of weapons to fight our interior battle!
There is one remedy for the power of spiritual evil in the world: holiness. That is undoubtedly the Church Militant’s greatest weapon against evil. If the Church were run by holy priests and bishops and served by holy nuns, and if our pews were filled with tested saints, then the devil would have much less of a chance to force his destructive will on society. In practical terms, holiness means simply staying in the state of grace and doing everything we can to evangelize our wicked culture with the sanctity of Christ and His Church. St. Paul reminds us that we are to “put on the armor of Christ” and “stand firm against the tactics of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) because we are in a war — a war the Church wages with deadly seriousness.

Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolic legion, we adjure thee by the living God, by the true = God, by the holy God…. Get thee gone, Satan, founder and master of all falsity, enemy of mankind! Give place to Christ in Whom thou didst find none of thy works; give place to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church which Christ Himself bought with His blood!

The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer is president of Virginia-based Human Life International, which has affiliates and partners in 87 countries around the world. A trained exorcist, Fr. Euteneuer has been authorized to perform the ancient rite in several dioceses in the U.S.

Human Life International
Spiritual Warfare & the Problem of Evil


Denver Archbishop urges Catholics to fight Satan

Rome, January 28, 2010 (CNA) Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver followed his keynote address to the Emmanuel Community of Rome’s conference on “Priests and Laity in the Mission” with a short reflection on the “disappointing times” he is experiencing. He also elaborated on a major theme of his talk—the reality of Satan and the importance of “spiritual combat.”
Just before launching into a question and answer session, Archbishop Chaput gave a reflection on his years as a bishop to stimulate discussion, saying, “I thought that after 20 years more of my life things would change and things would be a lot better but I don’t think they are.
“I think we live in disappointing times, in times of confusion, and in some ways that is the result of our failure to understand that we have an enemy in the Devil, but also we have enemies in the world around us.”
He pointed to a “great talk” from an American Protestant pastor he once heard which was titled “We preach as though we don’t have enemies,” and reflected that this sentiment “is true in the United States…”

“I think it’s important to understand that we are in a battle, we really do live in a time of spiritual combat and I think we’ve lost that sense of the Church,” Archbishop Chaput stated.
He continued with a comparison of the temptation we face to be like “everyone else” like the Israelites from the Old Testament wishing for a king like the other nations. They wanted a king … they got Saul and he was a good man, and then he became a politician and he lost his faith. We’re just like that.” “In America, we don’t want to be different than our Protestant brothers and sisters, or the secular forces around us. And, I think that’s the great danger of our time, we don’t love God enough and we don’t enter into combat with the enemy enough and we need to recommit ourselves to doing that,” the Archbishop of Denver urged.
During his keynote address, Archbishop Chaput had also referred to the importance of recognizing that evil exists and that “Satan is real.”
Responding later to a question from CNA about where he sees the Devil’s presence in society, the archbishop said, “Well, one of the most obvious things in the United States is internet pornography which is pervasive, and subtle, and attractive and totally destructive of peoples’ lives and there’s very little talk about fighting it.
“If you talk about fighting pornography in the media you’re somehow seen as anti-American, anti-freedom of speech … things that are so obviously destructive to society…” he said.
The archbishop also named divorce and the changing definition of marriage as places where Satan is holding sway.
“All of the statistical studies show us that a stable relationship between a man and a wife for the sake of children is what produces good, healthy human beings and you can’t say that today without being branded as somehow on the opposite side of freedom and truth,” Archbishop Chaput explained.
“So, those kind of basic human values, the value of chastity and the value of family life are popularly seen as ‘old fashioned’ because of the lies, because of the deceptions of the Evil One. Even Catholics are afraid of standing up for the truth because we’re afraid of being branded ‘old-fashioned.'”
When asked whether there are any successes in the fight today, the archbishop responded, “I think we’re doing a lot of very good things and doing well in terms of fighting but in terms of winning the battles, we’re not winning many of those cultural battles in terms of the formal direction of society.
“But,” he added, “every time an individual is converted the battle has been won in a huge kind of way, because we’re not saved as a group. We’re saved as individuals and what pleases the enemy of God, Satan, is that individuals are not being faithful to their identity as children of God.
“So, I think every time there’s a conversion, every time one of us turns from our sins there is a victory in the battle,” he remarked.
Archbishop Chaput concluded, “There are lots of victories, so I don’t think we measure our success in terms of swaying whole segments of society, but it’s convincing individuals to give themselves faithfully to the call of God in their lives.”

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Pink Ouija Board ‘Toy’ Targeting Young Girls Sparks Boycott

By Kathleen Gilbert

PAWTUCKET, Rhode Island, February 5, 2010 – A boycott has been launched against toymaker giant Hasbro and Toys R Us for making and marketing a pink Ouija board targeting girls as young as eight years old.

The board’s Toys R Us webpage – which has evidently been recently removed – boasted: “It has always been mysterious. It has always been mystifying. And now the OUIJA Board is just for you, girl.”  The board comes with 72 “fun questions” to ask, including: “Who will call/text me next? Will I be a famous actor someday? Who wishes they could trade places with me?” 


However, a glow-in-the-dark Ouija board is still available on the Toys R Us website, which is also marketed for ages 8 and older.  The product description suggests: “Make up your own questions, and let the OUIJA Board satisfy your curiosity in virtually endless ways. OUIJA Board will answer. It’s just a game – or is it?”

The vast majority of online comments, both positive and negative, on the glow-in-the-dark version strongly emphasized that the Ouija board is potentially dangerous and “not a game.”  Several comments discussed in depth how to treat the “spirits” of the game politely, in order to avoid attack.  Only about half a dozen comments out of 123 claimed the game was “just a toy.”

“This may be a game to you, but I assure you whomever you are playing with on the ‘other side’ it is not a game to them,” wrote one contributor.

Another user wrote: “Although I love this game, it is very definitley (sic) NOT suited for 8 year olds, considering it works most of the time, and they could be
talking to evil spirits.”

Yet another user told the following story, which resembled the stories of several others who also posted their comments about the board: “they asked the board my middle name which no one in the room knew. it spelled it out perfectly. I was so freaked out. we all got really into the game but then the lights started flickering, by its self. of course us girls just screamed and hugged each other and the door opened. omg it was so freaky we stopped playing that night.”

John Cain of Ottawa, Canada, launched a boycott of Hasbro and Toys R Us after learning of the Ouija board targeted at young girls, reports Susan Brinkmann of Living His Life Abundantly International.

“Kids wouldn’t even think about Ouija boards unless it was marketed directly toward them,” said Cain.

Brinkmann points to the testimony of New York City policeman Ralph Sarchie, who has routinely assisted at exorcisms, and who says “innocent” board games like the Ouija board are immensely dangerous.

“There ought to be a law against these evil, occult ‘toys’,” wrote Sarchie in his book “Beware the Night.”

“I can hear some of you out there saying, ‘Hey, I used a Ouija board and nothing happened’. Consider yourself lucky, then. It’s like playing Russian roulette. When you put the gun to your head, if you don’t hear a loud noise, you made it. Same thing with the board: The more times you pull the trigger, the more likely that on the next shot, your entire world will go black.”

Stephen Phelan of Human Life International threw his support behind the boycott.  Fr. Tom Euteneuer, HLI’s president, is an experienced exorcist who has also strongly condemned Ouija boards.

“No responsible parent would want his or her child messing with this, and they need to be thrown out of houses and destroyed if you already have one,” said Phelan. “And tell a priest that someone in your family has been using a ouija board as soon as possible. … No Christian family should support either of these companies with their money.”

Toys R Us spokesman Bob Friedland told (LSN) Friday that the pink ouija board, which the store has sold since 2008, was no longer shown as available “because we’re making way for newer products.” 

Asked whether Toys R Us had received complaints over the ouija board, Friedland responded, “Nothing significant that I’ve been told about,” and denied that outside criticism affected the decision to pull the game. 

Toys R Us still carries a glow-in-the dark Ouija board marketed to children 8-14 years old.

To sign up for the Hasbro/Toys R Us boycott click here.

Contact: Hasbro email form Toys R Us customer service: 800-869-7787 email form

Exorcism chapel opened in Mexico

Cecilia Barria
BBC News, Mexico City February 7, 2010

A Mexican church in the central city of Queretaro has opened a chapel in which exorcisms can take place.

There are no accurate figures for the number of exorcisms in Mexico. But the Roman Catholic Church says that in Mexico City alone there are about 10 cases a month – and the phenomenon is on the rise.

Critics say that priests often mistake mental illness or epilepsy for signs of possession. The new church will only treat people already seen by doctors.

Belief in possession and exorcism is common in a country where more than 90% of the population is Catholic.

Nevertheless, Mexico now has a church where exorcisms can be performed: La Capilla de las Benditas Animas del Purgatorio.

Exorcism predates the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th Century. Aztec healers burned herbs and prayed to eliminate the influence of bad spirits.

Nowadays the Roman Catholic Church follows the guidelines contained in a book published by the Vatican.

Signs of possession could be, for example, speaking in a foreign language that the person does not know, or being familiar with events that happened in far away places or in other times.

In a common exorcism, a priest performs a ceremony that includes sprinkling holy water over the possessed person and reciting prayers ordering the devil to depart.



Critics argue that priests commonly mistake mental illness such as schizophrenia or epilepsy and think instead they are confronting a demonic possession. But one priest, Rogelio Cano, told the BBC that the new church will only accept cases that have been already been treated by doctors and psychiatrists.


Spanish Exorcist Addresses Claims of Satanic Influence in Vatican

ROME March 3, 2010 Catholic News Agency (

In a book of memoirs the noted Italian exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth affirmed ‘Yes, also in the Vatican there are members of Satanic sects.’

A renowned exorcist in Rome recently released a book of memoirs in which he declares to know of the existence of Satanic sects in the Vatican where participation reaches all the way to the College of Cardinals. A second demonologist, also residing in Rome, entered the debate this week, clarifying the origins of the information and defending the Vatican’s clergy as an “edifying and virtuous” collection of prelates.

In a book of memoirs released in February, the noted Italian exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth affirmed that “Yes, also in the Vatican there are members of Satanic sects.” When asked if members of the clergy are involved or if this is within the lay community, he responded, “There are priests, monsignors and also cardinals!”

The book, “Father Amorth. Memoirs of an Exorcist. My life fighting against Satan.” was written by Marco Tosatti, who compiled it from interviews with the priest.

Fr. Amorth was asked by Tosatti how he knows Vatican clergy are involved. He answered, “I know from those who have been able to relate it to me because they had a way of knowing directly. And it’s something ‘confessed’ most times by the very demon under obedience during the exorcisms.”

The famous Italian exorcist was also asked if the Pope was aware of Satanic sects in the Vatican, to which Fr. Amorth replied, “Of course, he was informed. But he does what he can. It’s a horrifying thing.”

Benedict XVI, being German, comes from a place “decidedly averse to these things,” argued Fr. Amorth, saying that in Germany “there practically aren’t any exorcists.” However, he clarified, “the Pope believes (in them).”

The Italian priest also warned of the existence of bishops and priests who do not believe in Satan in the interview. “And yet, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks extensively about it, so it should be said, either they’ve never read the Gospel or they just don’t believe it!”

Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Spanish priest and theologian who specializes in demonology and is now studying for his doctorate of theology in Rome, responded to Fr. Amorth’s assertions on March 1.

After reading reports of Fr. Amorth’s accusations pointing a finger at members of the clergy, including cardinals, Fr. Fortea declared that it is a “duty of justice” to speak out in their defense.

Noting that some prelates “are more spiritual and others more earthly, some more virtuous and others more human,” he wrote on his blog, “from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of Satanic sects is an unacceptable distance.”

The Spanish priest then explained the sources of information used by Fr. Amorth to say that Satanic sects are operating in the Vatican. In addition to the people that seek help for demonic possession, said Fr. Fortea, “innumerable persons come to us who claim to have visions, revelations and messages from Our Lord.” Among these, “a certain number offer apocalyptic messages and revelations about the infiltration of Satanism and the Masons within the dome of the Church.”

Fr. Fortea added that the only acceptable stance is to suspend judgment of the messages while they are subjected to time-intensive discernment, “sometimes months for each one of the cases.”

The other source Fr. Amorth refers to, according to Fr. Fortea, is the demons who are being exorcised. Of this, the Spanish priest wrote that knowing whether or not the demon is telling the truth “is in many cases impossible.” “We can know with great confidence when a demon tells the truth in the subject directly related with the exorcism. That is, the number of demons, their name and similar things. But we cannot be confident in what regards concrete news relating to people.”

“Father Amorth does not have other sources of knowledge than the two that I just cited,” indicated the Spanish exorcist, “I refer to his own words for this affirmation.”

Fr. Fortea observed that the existence of similar messages from the same sources is “something known by me just as (it has been) by many other colleagues for many years.”

“Among exorcists, some have come to similar conclusions as those of Fr. Amorth. Others have not.”

Fr. Fortea also defended those implicated in Fr. Amorth’s statements, stating, “Our College of Cardinals, if we compare it with past centuries is the most edifying and virtuous that history has ever known. One would have to go back to the epoch of the Roman Empire to find a body of electors so distanced from all earthly pretension as the current one is.

“Cardinals might be better or worse,” he reflected, “but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God.”

He concluded by emphasizing, “Statements must be proven, especially when they are about such grave accusations that affect the honorability of those who form part of the Head of the Church as far as they help the Supreme Pastor.”


Chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth says Devil is in the Vatican

Richard Owen in Rome March 11, 2010

Sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”, according to the Holy See’s chief exorcist.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has been the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that the consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon”.

He added: “When one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ [a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972] in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia.”

He claimed that another example of satanic behaviour was the Vatican “cover-up” over the deaths in 1998 of Alois Estermann, the then commander of the Swiss Guard, his wife and Corporal Cedric Tornay, a Swiss Guard, who were all found shot dead. “They covered up everything immediately,” he said. “Here one sees the rot”.

A remarkably swift Vatican investigation concluded that Corporal Tornay had shot the commander and his wife and then turned his gun on himself after being passed over for a medal. However Tornay’s relatives have challenged this. There have been unconfirmed reports of a homosexual background to the tragedy and the involvement of a fourth person who was never identified.

Father Amorth, who has just published Memoirs of an Exorcist, a series of interviews with the Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti, said that the attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II in 1981 had been the work of the Devil, as had an incident last Christmas when a mentally disturbed woman threw herself at Pope Benedict XVI at the start of Midnight Mass, pulling him to the ground.

Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Rome-based exorcist, said that Father Amorth had “gone well beyond the evidence” in claiming that Satan had infiltrated the Vatican corridors.

“Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God,” he said. Some Vatican officials were more pious than others, “but from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of satanic sects is an unacceptable distance.”

Father Amorth told La Repubblica that the devil was “pure spirit, invisible. But he manifests himself with blasphemies and afflictions in the person he possesses. He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, transform himself or appear to be agreeable. At times he makes fun of me.”

He said it sometimes took six or seven of his assistants to hold down a possessed person. Those possessed often yelled and screamed and spat out nails or pieces of glass, which he kept in a bag. “Anything can come out of their mouths – finger-length pieces of iron, but also rose petals.”

He said that hoped every diocese would eventually have a resident exorcist. Under Church Canon Law any priest can perform exorcisms, but in practice they are carried out by a chosen few trained in the rites.

Father Amorth was ordained in 1954 and became an official exorcist in 1986. In the past he has suggested that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were possessed by the Devil. He was among Vatican officials who warned that J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels made a “false distinction between black and white magic”.

He approves, however, of the 1973 film The Exorcist, which although “exaggerated” offered a “substantially exact” picture of possession.

In 2001 he objected to the introduction of a new [1999] version of the exorcism rite, complaining that it dropped centuries-old prayers and was “a blunt sword” about which exorcists themselves had not been consulted.

The Vatican said later that he and other exorcists could continue to use the old ritual.

He is the president of honour of the Association of Exorcists.


On Satan’s trail with Don Gabriele, the world’s most famous exorcist

Richard Owen in Rome March 13, 2010

“Are you afraid of the Devil?” The world’s most famous exorcist levels his gaze at me and then smiles.

“No, it is he who is afraid of me. I work in the name of the Lord. Poor Satan.”

Poor Satan?

“Oh yes. The Evil One shouts and makes noises, but we are made in God’s image, we have the Holy Trinity on our side. There is no need to be afraid of the Devil unless we give in to his temptations.”

We are in the infirmary of the Society of St Paul, the order of Father Gabriele Amorth, in the shadow of St Paul’s Basilica, Rome. The Vatican’s chief exorcist was taken to hospital last autumn with a blood infection and is now convalescing — “they found nothing serious”. Perhaps it was the Devil who laid him low. “Oh no — just an illness. He has more serious evil to perform.”


Father Amorth made headlines this week by suggesting that those who had “given in to Satan’s temptations” included paedophile priests and even some cardinals and bishops who paid only lip service to the Gospels.

The growing crisis over the clerical sex abuse now engulfing Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican, he said, was the work of Satan, who had even “infiltrated the Vatican corridors”.

Is the sex abuse crisis really due to the Devil? “Oh yes. All evil is due to the intervention of the Devil, including paedophilia.”

And the Vatican? “Legions of demons have lodged there. The majority of those in the Vatican do good work. But Pope Paul VI talked about the ‘smoke of Satan’ infiltrating the Vatican as long ago as 1972. Satan sets out to damage the leadership of the Church — and of politics, industry and sport, for that matter.”

And although all manner of incidents, scandals and misdemeanours in Italy and abroad leap to mind as potential evidence of diabolical intervention, he declines to give examples. Father Amorth — or Don Gabriele, as he is universally known — has just published The Memoirs of an Exorcist, a book of interviews with Marco Tosatti, the Vatican journalist. In a style that is somewhat reminiscent of a medieval chronicle, he describes his often hair-raising experiences over the past quarter of a century in the front line against the Evil One and his minions.

Father Amorth, aged nearly 85, is honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists. He fought for the Resistance in the Second World War, took a law degree but then entered the Church. He began conducting exorcisms shortly after his ordination 60 years ago; in 1986 he was appointed by Cardinal Ugo Poletti, then the Vicar of Rome, as assistant to Father Candido Amantini, the chief exorcist, eventually succeeding him.

Now frail, he becomes animated as he describes his life-long struggle with demons who possess the bodies of their victims, at one stage spreading his arms wide to show me the length of one particular demon occupying the body of a woman he had “liberated”.

He talks to Lucifer and his demons, he says, and knows their names. On the writing table in his room he keeps pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, “who came into the world to fight the Devil and return us to God”. But the modern world, he says, has “given in to the Evil One. You see it in the lack of faith, the empty churches, the collapse of the family.”

“Compare the world of today to when I was a boy in Modena: families and parish communities were strong, women did not go out to work. Now they have to because one income cannot support a family. So young people are left to their own devices, they get into bad company, they have lost their roots and replaced them with the negative influences of television and the internet, or the occult.”

What about those who believe in neither God nor Satan? “The Devil is only too happy to take advantage of those who do not believe in his existence. It means he can operate with complete freedom, even inside the Church. He exploits lust and power.”

The Devil tries to reach all of us, Father Amorth adds, and “the possessed are those who listen to him most. Mind you, they are a minority. If you read my book you might get the impression the whole world is possessed, but I am describing a small number of cases, comparatively speaking.”

His claim to have carried out 70,000 exorcisms seems incredible. “But I was talking about the number of exorcisms, not the number of people exorcised. You often have to exorcise someone dozens, even hundreds, of times, and an exorcism ritual can take anything from a few minutes to several hours.”

Exorcism can only be done with the approval of the local bishop, usually after medical or psychiatric tests show no rational explanation for the symptoms, which include vomiting, violent headaches and stomach cramps but also superhuman strength, fits and extreme aversion to holy symbols. He is adept, he says, at distinguishing hysterics from the real thing. There are more women than men among the possessed, “but we don’t know why. There are various explanations: Satan taking revenge on the Virgin Mary, or using women as a means of reaching men. None of them is convincing.”

The possessed talk in languages they do not know, including ancient tongues such as Aramaic, the language of Christ. “Sometimes the language is incomprehensible. I once asked a demon what it was and he said, ‘Satanic language’.” The victims often react so violently to the ritual of prayers, incantations, holy water and the sign of the Cross that they have to be held or tied down while the priest touches the possessed person with his stole and places his hand on his or her head.

In many cases, he says, they vomit objects such as nails or glass. Father Amorth has a collection weighing two kilograms. “You get used to being vomited over. I once performed an exorcism on a woman who managed to hit me in the face with a stream of vomit from the other side of the room — physically impossible.”

The Devil, he says, is humourless but does sometimes play tricks. He and his demons speak through the victim, sometimes using their normal voice but sometimes in hoarse, raucous tones. He imitates the unnerving low growl for me. They are not, however visible, any more than angels are.

“Angels exist, and how, but they are not as depicted in art — they are pure spirit. We all have guardian angels. Demons are, of course, fallen angels who rebelled against God; that is why they are so intelligent, and so arrogant.”


He does not believe in ghosts, which are “an invention of the human mind”.

Father Amorth has no designated successor, and complains that even now the Church hierarchy does not take exorcism — or the Devil — seriously enough. But “the Lord has made use of me” and his example has inspired many other priests — as did the 1973 film The Exorcist, which although “exaggerated” was “substantially true”.

At his age does he still have the stomach for the battle with Satan? “Oh yes. I have work to do.”


Do Twilight, Harry Potter open door to the Devil?

By Linda Morris, March 21, 2010

The appointment of a new exorcist by Sydney’s Catholic Church precedes a warning by a senior clergyman that generation Y risks a dangerous fascination with the occult fuelled by the Twilight
Harry Potter

Julian Porteous, the auxiliary bishop of Sydney, warns that pursuing such ”alternative” relaxation techniques as yoga, reiki massages and tai chi may encourage experimentation with ”deep and dark spiritual ideas and traditions”.

Bishop Porteous, who is second to Cardinal George Pell in the Sydney Archdiocese, told The Sun-Herald the Twilight and Harry Potter books and films ”are attractive to adolescents and can be innocent enough.

”However, they can open up a fascination with this mysterious world and invite exploration of various phenomena through the use of occult practices like séances.”

Exorcism is no fantasy according to the church, with the Sydney archdiocese last month appointing an as-yet unnamed priest, suitably ”endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life” to conduct exorcisms, as required by Catholic canon law.

In Rome, the Vatican is preparing its first official English translation of the rite of exorcism, which was promulgated in 1614 and reissued in 1999. Its chief exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, claimed this month to have carried out 70,000 exorcisms.

Bishop Porteous – who has stood in as exorcist for the Sydney archdiocese over the past five years – warns that yoga, reiki massages and tai chi can lead to people being in the grip of ”demonic forces”.

”A person can move from the use of a simple practice to de-stress to embracing the underlining theory and religious beliefs because these all come out of religious traditions of the East and people can then find themselves in the grip of demonic forces,” he said. ”People can be naive in that regard.”

But David Tacey, associate professor of English at La Trobe University, said demonic possession was an archaism long discredited by science, psychology and modern theology. Any suggestion that reiki massage, yoga and tai chi could have evil influence were ”expressions of Western ignorance about Eastern practices”, he said. ”This is an example of how certain voices in the church have no idea about other cultures and religions,” Professor Tacey said. ”To argue that only Christianity can rescue people from these supposed ‘demonic’ forces is a wonderful evangelical trick. The arrogance and ignorance … is … transparent, and anyone can see through it as an attempt to recruit people to the failing mainstream religion.”

The main signs of ”diabolical influence” recognised by the Catholic Church include speaking in unknown languages, including ancient tongues, and exhibiting superhuman strength.

Some victims have spoken to Bishop Porteous of feeling an evil presence around them or of feeling an oppressive force bearing down on their chest.

Bishop Porteous has been verbally abused during exorcisms yet he says he does not fear the Devil. ”You’re conscious the powers of Christ are greater than the powers of evil,” he said.


The minor rite can be done by any priest and provides prayers of protection and assistance for people who fear they are being tempted by the devil. Prayers of minor exorcism are built in to the rite of baptism.

The major rite applies to cases of full demonic possession. The priest wears a purple stole, representing his role as a leader of the church. He carries holy water which he sprinkles over the victim during prayers. The crucifix is held aloft, representing the most potent symbol of Christ’s victory over evil. Prayers are either dedicative or indicative. During dedicative prayer, the exorcist asks God to drive out an evil spirit. The indicative prayer directly commands the demon to leave: ”I command you evil spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, begone.”

Also at:


TV program — Compass: Return of the Exorcists



April 15, 2010 This program examines the covert Catholic ritual of exorcism in Italy where half a million people are turning to exorcists for help each year.

Pope Benedict XVI recently hailed the importance of the rite and now for the first time the Vatican is backing a course to prepare a new generation of exorcists.

This film shows rare footage of exorcisms and sufferers in states of trance and altered states.

It goes beyond the extreme drama of the ritual and observes the daily life of an exorcist, seeking to understand the rite and what lies behind its revival.

It also examines the difference between psychological illnesses, and perceived “demonic possession”.

Compass: Return of the Exorcists – ABC-TV1, 10.20pm Sunday, April 18, 2010


Even in the promo blurb, ABC-TV and Compass reveal their typical cluelessness about and hostility towards anything Catholic. ‘Return’? Exorcism never went away. And don’t you love how anything of which the details of every individual case are not publicised to the media becomes ‘covert’ if it involves the Catholic Church? Peter G


Memoirs of an Exorcist Interview With Author Who Spoke to Father Amorth

By Antonio Gaspari
ROME, April 23 2010 ( Father Gabriele Amorth is considered the most expert exorcist in the world, having performed this duty for more than 25 years and 70,000 exorcisms. Marco Tosatti, previously the Vatican expert for the newspaper La Stampa, and author of innumerable books, interviewed Father Amorth. The fruit of their conversation is “Memorie di un Esorcista” (Memoirs of an Exorcist). The book is a sort of spiritual testament, in which Father Amorth recounts the struggle against the Evil One: an impressive series of stories that attest to the presence and influence of evil, but also deliverance from it, as Tosatti explained to ZENIT.
ZENIT: What is an exorcist and, in particular, who is Father Amorth?
Tosatti: An exorcist is a priest who has received from his bishop – the only one authorized to carry out this type of intervention – the authorization to liberate persons affected by demonic phenomena, such as infestation, vexation and possession. Gabriele Amorth is the honorary president of the association of exorcists founded by him many years ago, and probably the most well known exorcist in the world. In April he will celebrate his 85th birthday and he continues with his battle.
ZENIT: Does the devil really exist?
Tosatti: Christians cannot fail to believe that a pure spirit exists who has rejected God, and who acts in an ordinary and extraordinary way – very rare — in the world.
ZENIT: Who is he and what does he do? How does he manifest himself and in what way do exorcists distinguish his influence on persons?
Tosatti: He is a fallen angel, at the head of other beings similar to him. In his ordinary action he tries to drive people to sin, to conquer their souls. His extraordinary action is certainly more mysterious. With God’s permission, he carries out actions against persons, succeeding, in some cases, in possession — which, however, cannot touch the soul. With the prayers of the ritual and the use of sacraments, exorcists try to liberate victims from this negative action.
ZENIT: Why has the Church instituted the figure of the exorcist?
Tosatti: Jesus Christ gave the mandate to his disciples to preach the Gospel, to cure the sick and to cast out demons. During several centuries the figure of the exorcist did not exist in Christianity: every Christian could be a soldier in this battle. And even today simple Christians can say, and do say, prayers of deliverance. And some saints — Padre Pio, for example — without being exorcists, delivered victims from demonic influence. It must be said that in the last years, evidently in response to a growing need, increasingly bishops are obliged to appoint priests for this type of pastoral work.
ZENIT: How much is there of suggestion and how much of truth in many persons who believe they are possessed by the devil?
Tosatti: From what has been said to me in my research, the real cases of possession, vexation or infestation are very, very rare. Gabriele Amorth — and I believe his colleagues also act in this way — does not receive anyone who has not first sought help from official medicine. And despite this precaution, he sees that in many cases an evil origin is not identified with the disturbances. But, although rare, cases of demonic influence exist, and they are frightening.
ZENIT: In what way can men escape from temptations to sin and evil?
Tosatti: To flee from the attack of temptations, I believe, is impossible. A clean and Christian life can help us not to yield to those temptations.
ZENIT: The devil has always beset the Church. Pope Paul VI once said: “the smoke of Satan has entered the Church.” John Paul II and Benedict XVI several times denounced the presence of the devil’s tail in many actions that attack the Chair of Peter. In these days we are witnessing an unprecedented attack against the present Pontiff. What is your opinion?

Tosatti: Benedict XVI, as John Paul II before him, indicated the central battle of the Church in our times in the moral topics and the defense of life and of the family. It is a battle against the prevailing culture in a great part of the Western world, and above all in the media. The attempt to discredit the Church and the Pope precisely to weaken the impact of his teaching is evident. Also in an evidently instrumental and incorrect way, trusting in the negative effect of the attack on public opinion – which often does not have the instruments or the time to carefully verify the veracity of the accusations. 
And this is all the more extraordinary inasmuch as if there ever was some one who seeks — who has always sought — to cleanse the Church, it is precisely Joseph Ratzinger. 
I think that, unfortunately, our profession is not living one of its happiest moments.
Memorie di un Esorcista


Pro-Life Exorcist: “Never in All of History Have We Seen Evil Promoted So Effectively”

By John-Henry Westen WASHINGTON, June 14, 2010 ( “Satan is normally ‘hidden’ … but nowadays he is walking tall in powerful structures of sin like abortion, pornography, sex slavery, rapacious greed and terrorism,” writes pro-life leader, Catholic priest and exorcist Reverend Thomas J. Euteneuer in his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant.

The devil, says the President of Human Life International, “flexes his muscles” with “pernicious ideologies like radical feminism and ‘pro-choice’ extremism, the militant homosexual movement and the aggressive mass media which is the ministry of propaganda for Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.”

Father Euteneuer has conducted exorcisms in several dioceses around the United States and spoken to thousands of people on the subject.

In the newly released book, Fr. Euteneuer warns: “Never in all of history have we seen evil promoted so effectively and the true good so roundly mocked and rejected as in this age of extreme technological prowess.”  He explains, “The difference between the modern world and past generations is that Satan has a greater ability to use groups and institutions for increasing his wicked reach into human life and society.”

Far from hidden, suggests the exorcist, “Nowadays, objective evil is displayed out in the open air with impunity, celebrated in the public forum and strategized in plush board rooms.”

Fr. Euteneuer presents the case that “the devil’s spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have no choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls.”

“The devil now,” he warns, “arrogates to himself the right to control the totality of human existence even in so-called free societies: from manipulating the very act of creation (in vitro fertilization, cloning, Human Genome); to the authority over life and death (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia); to the definition of human sexuality and marriage (birth control, divorce, homosexual unions); to the very prospect of human annihilation (nuclear war, genocide and the impending New World Order).”

Along with Exorcism and the Church Militant, Father Euteneuer is also releasing Demonic Abortion, the first of two companion works. This 120-page booklet is a meditation on the evil nature of the abortion industry, from the perspective of a priest and exorcist who has been fighting in the pro-life trenches around the world for well over a decade. With a release date of July 7, 2010, Demonic Abortion is now available for pre-order.

More information about both Exorcism and the Church Militant and Demonic Abortion can be found at The introduction to the book is available here.


Priests will soon be ‘inundated’ with exorcism requests, asserts author

Front Royal, Va., June 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) In an exclusive interview with CNA, author and pro-life leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer discussed his recent book on the often misunderstood topic of exorcism, asserting that due to an increased exposure of young people to the occult, priests within the next decade are going to be “inundated” with exorcism requests. Speaking on his new book, “Exorcism and the Church Militant,” which was released on June 14, Fr. Euteneuer, who also serves as director of Human Life International (HLI), elaborated on the need for exorcism to be clarified in modern society.

When asked why the ancient rite is often shrouded in misconception, Fr. Euteneuer explained that, “first of all, it’s misunderstood because most people’s perception of exorcism come from the movie the Exorcist or the Exorcism of Emily Rose,” or “some of the horror flicks that disguise themselves as exorcism movies.”

“One of the purposes of the book,” he noted, “was to take back the proper understanding of exorcism by placing it squarely in the context of the Church’s pastoral ministry.”

In regard to the need for this pastoral ministry, Fr. Euteneuer asserted that “priests are going to be inundated in the next decade or so at least with requests for exorcism because I can already see it happening now where the younger generations especially have been affected by a lot of hard and soft occultism.”


Soft forms of occultism are like Wicca and New Age,” he explained, adding that “Harry Potter contributes to that with over 400 million books being sold.” The popular book series, he claimed, has helped educate “younger generations in the language and the symbolism of the occult.” Although many young people have treated the books merely as “entertainment,” he observed, “it actually leads them more deeply into occult practices.”

“All of this is inevitably, with the lack of faith, going to lead to serious spiritual problems for younger people and those problems are going to be laid at the foot of the Church.”

Though “Exorcism and the Church Militant” is intended for a “general audience,” said Fr. Euteneuer, it is meant specifically to make an appeal “to priests to read it, learn it and get more involved in it.”

“Because,” he clarified, “exorcism is a pastoral ministry and the explicit form of exorcism is a liturgical rite which can only be done by priests.”

Addressing what could be seen by many to be a daunting and frightening topic, Fr. Euteneuer said, “I encourage people to take the view of the Church towards this and that is, we have nothing to fear with regard to evil. We just simply must apply the authority of the church to the power of evil in this world and I don’t believe we’re doing that adequately.” “Fear is what keeps us from doing it adequately,” he said. “Fear is what keeps the Church from actually taking the spiritual resources that have been given to the Church and applying them to the very serious forms of evil.” “Remember that in Jesus’ ministry,” Fr. Euteneuer underscored, “He healed the sick, He preached the Gospel and He cast out demons. He continues to do those works in and through the Church and that it what he handed on to the Church to do.”


Secret Power of the Holy Rosary

October 27, 2010

Often Father Gabriel Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican writes:  One day a colleague of mine heard the devil say during an exorcism, “Every Hail Mary is like a blow on my head. If Christians knew how powerful the Rosary was, it would be my end.”

The secret that makes this prayer so effective is that the Rosary is both prayer and meditation. It is addressed to the Father, to the Blessed Virgin, and to the Holy Trinity, and is a meditation centered on Christ.

I write in addition to the above: Please enunciate each word of the Rosary clearly and distinctly. Do not trample on the heels of the words of anyone with your words.. Do not speak over the leader if you are following or the respondent if you are leading the Rosary. Remember that they also are having a conversation with Mary Our Mother and it is not polite to speak when someone else is speaking.

In the case of the public Rosary there are only two people speaking: the Leader and the respondents. Each is speaking to the Blessed Mother and listening carefully to her response within their hearts as they meditate on the scene before them in their consideration of the mystery being spoken of and interpreted and translated into their lives.

Spread this powerful prayer of exorcism, the Rosary, which contains the Our Father, the Perfect Prayer, prayed five times in the recitation of each set of the Rosary’s Mysteries, backed up by the powerful prayers of Our Mother who prays with us as we pray 53 Hail Mary’s.

The Eternal Father described to a group of us, through a Visionary Friend of mine, what happens when we pray the Rosary, saying, When you pray Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now……, the Blessed Mother comes instantly to your side to pray with you. And she does not come alone. She brings angels with her. And not just one or two for she is the Queen of Angels, so choirs of angels come with her.
And she and Jesus are joined at the heart and cannot be separated so she brings Jesus with her. And Jesus cannot be separated from the Trinity so He brings the Father and the Holy Spirit with Him.

And where the Holy Trinity is, all of creation is, and you are surrounded by such beauty and light as you cannot imagine in this life. Your Mother comes as Our Lady of Grace with her hands outstretched. Rays of light emit from her hands piercing your body, healing you and filling you with graces. This is your inheritance which was poured out from the heart of Jesus on the Cross, when the centurion pierced His Heart with the spear, into the only pure vessel ready to receive such graces at that time, Your Mother.

Now as you pray the Rosary, or even just recite one Hail Mary, you receive your portion of these graces. He also said at this time, “Anyone who goes to Mary and prays the Rosary cannot be touched by Satan.”

Is it any wonder that anyone who prays the Rosary from the heart is so blessed and protected and powerful in their prayers for others? Come, let us ask our Mother’s intercession more often.


Hollywood, US Bishops Spotlight “The Rite” Interview with San Jose Diocesan Exorcist

By Genevieve Pollock



(Part 1)
SARATOGA, California, January 20, 2011 ( January 28 is the release date for a new movie about exorcism and faith, which is based on the story of Father Gary Thomas, official exorcist of San Jose, California. ZENIT spoke with Father Thomas about his call to the ministry of exorcism, his experiences over the past years in working with people seeking his help, and the prevalence of demonic influences in our society today. The movie, “The Rite,” starring Anthony Hopkins and distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures, focuses on themes of faith, as evidenced by the promotional tagline: “You can only defeat it when you believe.”

It is based on the real experiences of Father Thomas, as recorded in the book, “The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist,” by Matt Baglio. Both the author and the priest, who serves as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga, were invited onto the set to consult in the making of the movie.

Hollywood producers are not the only ones with a renewed interest in this topic; last November the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops sponsored a two-day conference on exorcism, which took place in Baltimore just prior to the fall assembly. Some 56 prelates and 66 priests signed up for the course.

In this interview, Father Thomas described his experiences on the set of the movie, and explained the relevance of this ministry today.

ZENIT: Could you tell us about the scene on the set of the movie?

Father Thomas: I was on the set for a week with the actors, and I gave them input in terms of what the reaction to an exorcism and what the manifestations look like. The author of the book was on the set for most of the shoot. For example, I taught Anthony Hopkins how he has to bless left to right and not right to left, and all those little things. The producer Beau Flynn and the director Mikael Håfström really wanted this to be supremely accurate, and I do too. It’s really a movie about faith. It’s not a gory movie or a horror movie; there is no green pea soup or heads spinning off of bodies.

I’ve not seen a lot of exorcism movies; there was one that was just out about three months ago called “The Last Exorcism,” which actually was very good. And “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” came out in 2005, which was done by New Line Cinema as well and actually done by the same producer. But I think this one has a whole different take to it, because it’s really a movie about faith.

ZENIT: Most people get their ideas of exorcism from what they’ve seen in movies and on television. What would you say is different about the way Hollywood portrays exorcism and the way you’ve experienced it?

Father Thomas: I think in many cases Hollywood is basing everything on sensationalism, which I’m hoping this movie is not about. Exorcism, rather, is a ritual set of prayers that command the demon to cease its attempt to inflict harm, suffering, pain and total possession of a human being, and to depart.

There are some dramatic manifestations that I’ve encountered, but often times what Hollywood tries to do is exacerbate the dramatic and add to it in the name of entertainment, when quite honestly this is not a topic to entertain people with.

Is there a dramatic side to personified evil? Yes, there is.

Satan or his minions attempt to intimidate human beings and to cause them to lose heart altogether, but with the help of Christ we have nothing to worry about. We have nothing to fear.

Hollywood wants to play out the dramatic, and because they’ve never really seen exorcisms they’re just envisioning. I’ve had a number of media outlets contact me with the request to film one and I’ve said no, because I have no guarantee and no reassurance that they are going to get it right. I also say, you’re not going to objectify someone’s suffering in this way. Because then it becomes more of a fodder for entertainment rather than a way of becoming educated and informed about the real dark underbelly of the world.

ZENIT: How necessary is a ministry of exorcism in our country these days? Are these cases of demonic possession very frequent?

Father Thomas: The ministry is essential. It is not because we are having so many cases of demonic possession. What we are seeing — speaking from my experience — is that we are all, not just the exorcists, but priests in general, having a lot more people coming to us about matters that are of this realm. Many of the issues people are coming with are actually not demonic; they are more related to mental health.

Sometimes people ask, “Why now?” And I say, because now there are more Catholics who are involved in paganism and idolatry, so there are a lot of people who are opening a lot of doors to the diabolical. The occult is all about power. Now the occult is not synonymous with the Satanic, but it is a doorway. There are also more and more Catholics, and people in general, now in this country who are involved in New Age things. With the opening of doorways to the New Age and the occult, you do not know what is behind that door; you do not know what you are tapping into most of the time. So, are there more cases of possession? In five years, I’ve exorcised five people, whom I do believe had a demonic attachment. And I’ve prayed over others who also I think have a demonic attachment, but I’ve not done exorcisms with them.

But what is becoming very rampant is that more and more people are involved in pagan idolatry. Some of it is structured and formal, and some of it is not.

This is coupled with issues that have to do with sexual abuse; 80% of the people who come to me have been sexually abused. That is a soul wound, and a doorway for a demon.


If the soul wounds are coupled with either heavy drug use, heavy sexual perversions, sexual abuse or physical abuse, usually by a parent, a sibling or an extended family member, it becomes a recipe for an invitation for a demon. It is not like demons just show up. You have to invite them in, or someone else invites them in for you.

If a person has been sexual abused it does not mean that they are going to have a demonic attachment. What I am saying is that when people have been sexually abused they become incredibly vulnerable to that possibility.

Then if they get involved in matters that have to do with paganism and idolatry, like the occult or things of the Satanic, the bar goes way up, the chances go up. Because demons are always looking for human beings who either have no relationships or a variety of broken relationships.

ZENIT: If Catholic laity find themselves in this situation, how would they guard against the possibility of demonic activity in their lives or how would they protect a loved one who they are worried about?

Father Thomas: There are a variety of ordinary means.

People say to me all the time, “I don’t want this to happen to me.” I tell them that as long as you have a faith life, a prayer life and a sacramental life, the chances of this occurring are very nil.

If you have a life that involves God — and for a Catholic if you have a sacramental life that involves the Eucharist and reconciliation with regularity — and your life is lived in the spirit of the will of God and the providence of God, you do not have any serious consideration to be concerned about.

It is when people are involved in the spirit world, which is rarely deliberate. It is usually out of curiosity, of when they think they can get a leg up on things. For example, it can be people who get involved in very unorthodox types of meditation. I’m not talking about Ignatian spirituality or having a spiritual director who helps you learn how to meditate. I’m talking about people who go off to Buddhist camps, or people who are involved in spiritism, where you do not know what they are involved in, and you do not know what kind of techniques people are using to somehow deal with the realm beyond this one. It is much more about stuff that is really not known or tested, or sometimes it is known and tested by people who really have the wrong focus. It is not about a relationship with God; it is about a relationship with self.

“The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist” Book:


Hollywood, US Bishops Spotlight “The Rite” Interview with San Jose Diocesan Exorcist

By Genevieve Pollock

(Part 2)
SARATOGA, California, January 21, 2011 (

ZENIT: Could you say something more about these unorthodox practices that could be doorways for demons? What are the practices people should be aware of and should be careful of getting into?

Father Thomas: I think people should know if there are any effects from being involved in these things, and they should know why. They are tapping into these kinds of activities and if they do not know, they are really running a risk of opening themselves up.

For example, people who get involved with psychics, or tarot cards, Ouija boards, crystals, Wicca, or even yoga

People that get themselves involved in very unorthodox kinds of self-focused practices need to be aware of the potential that they might be opening themselves up to.

Or, séances, again, are a doorway. People should ask who is running the séance, and why they are going to a séance. They want answers to the future, and if they are going to commune with a human spirit from the world beyond ours, it is very dangerous because they do not know what they are doing.

ZENIT: What signs would indicate possible demonic activity in a friend or a family member?

Father Thomas: If, for example, if somebody was able to speak in a language that he had no prior competency in, or if someone would foam at the mouth or have a lot of rolling of the eyes.

If the person were not able to walk into a church or be close to any Catholic sacramental: holy water, a crucifix, the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacramental anointing of the sick, or someone wearing some kind of a Christian symbol. If these caused a reaction, it certainly would be a sign.

Another sign of a diabolical attachment is when people have unnatural amounts of strength that they normally do not possess. Sometimes people will take on a serpentine appearance, again in reaction to sacraments and sacramentals.

But there would be things leading up to that; for example, these people could have an obsessive amount of thoughts or ideas of the Satanic, or feel a tremendous amount of depression in their lives, usually due to tapping into the spirit world. Those would be signs.

ZENIT: Is this ministry of exorcism something that any priest might feel called to engage in?

Father Thomas: First of all, you have to believe. It is what Anthony Hopkins says to my character at one point in the movie, “You cannot defeat it till you believe in it.” You have to believe that Satan is a reality.

Personally, on an ideal basis, I think that every priest should be trained to be an exorcist.


It is part of our healing ministry, and it is very much at the heart of the Paschal mystery. So on the one hand I do think every priest ought to be trained to know how to do this.

Do I think every priest has the ability? Probably to some degree; it depends. But I think every priest should know what to do in these situations, and quite honestly they don’t, at least at this time. The seminaries do not teach this.

When the book came out, I requested that the publishing company send this book to every bishop in the United States and every rector in every major seminary. They did, with a cover letter from me. This came up in the meeting in Baltimore to some degree, without a huge amount of response, but I firmly believe this needs to be in the program of priestly formation in our seminaries. This needs some serious attention.

It does not mean there has to be a whole semester course on it, but there needs to be a development of some pastoral skills in this area, and some theological training.

Satan has to be part of the equation of salvation in the formation of priests, and the topic is not there right now. Now I know the major seminary in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is teaching a course on demonology. And I know in the seminary that I went to they are teaching a course this semester on good and evil, though I don’t know what that is going to entail. It is a start. If that is happening at other seminaries, I am not aware.

All I can say with some certitude is that there is nothing in the formation program as such that deals in a kind of overt way with exorcism.

ZENIT: Could you tell us a bit about your own story, and how you knew that you were called to be an exorcist?

Father Thomas: I didn’t know; that’s the amazing thing in all of this.

Two months before Pope John Paul II died in 2005, he sent a mandate through Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s office requesting every bishop in the United States to select and train an exorcist.

This was because of the growing occult that has become an epidemic in Europe. I know in my time in Rome on sabbatical, which coincided with all of this, it was reported that 25% of the people in Italy practice the occult. We saw a lot of damage to people, when I was working with Father Carmen.

How I got involved with it was obviously providence, but it was not like I had an epiphany. What happened was that our bishop took the letter seriously, and approached a priest of our diocese.

It came to my attention that the priest who received the initial invitation declined, so I decided to volunteer for this ministry. I thought to myself: “I can be the exorcist. I believe in the personification of evil. I can fulfill that role.” The bishop came to me the month before my 12-year term as pastor of my previous parish was coming to an end and I was going on sabbatical to Rome. He said, I’m appointing you exorcist; thank you very much for saying yes, and there is a course you can take in Rome while you’re there.

I took this course in Rome, which was taught at the Regina Apostolorum seminary of the Legionaries of Christ, while I was on sabbatical studying at the North American College.

Halfway through the course it was apparent to me that I needed someone to work under, because the course was good but it was very theoretical and theological.

There were about 60 people in the class, mostly Italians and Africans, and another priest was working with this 85-year-old exorcist. He would come to class on Thursday morning and tell us what he had been doing, what he had seen, and what he had been experiencing. And I said, I have to find someone to work under.

Now there are nine exorcists in Rome but none of them speak English. Finally I was able to locate Father Carmen, and I worked with him for three and a half months, observing exorcisms three days a week for three and a half hours at a time.

I would go home and journal about what I had seen today: what did he do, and what did I see from the people who would come to him. And then every few weeks I would sit down with him with an English translator and ask, what did this mean, why did this happen, why did you do this? That’s how I learned.

There is no course in the United States per say to train exorcists although I just came back from a meeting in Baltimore with the bishops and the exorcists and we did talk about this some.

ZENIT: Why do you think the bishops called that meeting in Baltimore? Was it in response to the letter from the Pope a few years ago?

Father Thomas: No. I think what made them hold this conference was the fact that Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, who is the chairman of the canonical governance committee for the bishops, called for the meeting. He had come to one of our annual conferences in Chicago, and I think he felt that this was the right time to bring this to the bishops.


The Making of a Modern Exorcist
Encounter with Author of “The Rite”

By Father Alfonso Aguilar, LC

ROME, April 6, 2011 ( Does the devil exist? Father Gary Thomas of the Diocese of San Jose, California, once thought that belief in the devil’s existence was part of an archaic and superstitious way of living the faith.


Father Thomas, who is pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Saratoga, was asked by his bishop to travel to Rome for training in the rite of exorcism at a Vatican-affiliated university. Through the lessons given by great exorcists and the training from a priest based in Rome, Father Thomas experienced firsthand that the presence of personal Evil is concrete and more ubiquitous than he could ever imagine. He eventually performs more than 80 exorcisms, and becomes the official exorcist of the San Jose Diocese.

These are the experiences recounted in the 2009 book “The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist” by Matt Baglio. Inspired by true events, “The Rite” follows the steps taken by a skeptical priest in order to become an exorcist. The story is interwoven with traditional theological notions about the demons, the touching experiences of possessed people, the quasi-magical power of the ancient rite, and the encounter, face to face, with the devil in person.

The book has inspired the feature film called “The Rite,” which has been in theaters since January 28, starring Anthony Hopkins, no less. Directed by Mikael Håfström (“1408”), “The Rite” is a supernatural thriller that uncovers the devil’s reach to even one of the holiest places on earth.

On January 20 and 21 — a week before the release of the movie in the U.S. theaters — ZENIT spoke with Father Thomas about his call to the ministry of exorcism, his experiences over the past years in working with people seeking his help, and the prevalence of demonic influences in our society today.

Both Father Thomas and Matt Baglio were invited onto the set to consult in the making of the movie. “I was on the set for a week with the actors,” Father Thomas said, “and I gave them input in terms of what the reaction to an exorcism and what the manifestations look like. For example, I taught Anthony Hopkins how he has to bless left to right and not right to left, and all those little things. The producer Beau Flynn and the director Mikael Håfström really wanted this to be supremely accurate, and I do too.”

According to the Californian priest, “The Rite” is not a typical entertaining Hollywood product. “It’s really a movie about faith. It’s not a gory movie or a horror movie; there is no green pea soup or heads spinning off of bodies.”

Father Thomas expressed the belief that learning about exorcisms is today more necessary than ever, because there are more Catholics who are involved in paganism, idolatry and the occult (psychics, tarot cards, Ouija boards, crystals, Wicca, séances, and the like), so there are a lot of people who are opening a lot of doors to the diabolical.

Certain signs would indicate possible demonic activity in someone. For example, “if somebody was able to speak in a language that he had no prior competency in, or if someone would foam at the mouth or have a lot of rolling of the eyes,” Father Thomas said. Another sign of a diabolical attachment can be found “if the person were not able to walk into a church or be close to any Catholic sacramental: holy water, a crucifix, the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacramental anointing of the sick, or someone wearing some kind of a Christian symbol. If these caused a reaction, it certainly would be a sign.”

Another sign is “when people have unnatural amounts of strength that they normally do not possess. Sometimes people will take on a serpentine appearance, again in reaction to sacraments and sacramentals.”

On Thursday, Baglio will present his novel at the university where the story began: Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University (located at Via degli Aldobrandeschi, 190 in Rome).

The event, scheduled at 1:30 p.m., has been organized by the Pascal Center, an apologetics association, together with the Università Europea di Roma. Well-known Spanish exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea and Father Pedro Barrajón, Regina Apostolorum’s rector and a theologian expert on demons, will take part in the presentation.

“The idea began when I heard about a university-level course at a Vatican-affiliated school that purported to train potential exorcists,” Baglio said. “As a freelance journalist living in Rome I thought it might just be a P.R. stunt. The only thing I knew about exorcism was from what I’d seen in Hollywood films like ‘The Exorcist’ and I wondered how the Catholic Church could still believe in it.”

At this point, Baglio met Father Thomas and learned more about his spiritual journey. “Attending the course,” he said, “I realized that the reality of exorcism is much different from what I’d imagined.”

Baglio was born and raised in San Diego, California. In 1996, he graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a bachelors’ degree in English literature. After a stint working as an intern and editorial assistant for TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine, Baglio moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a freelancer. In 2000, in an effort to expand his horizons, Baglio took a trip to Europe where he met his future wife in Rome. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Italy permanently, and over the years he worked for a variety of news organizations and magazines, including The Associated Press, The American Magazine, The Snowboard Journal, COLORS, Bene, and Homeland Security Today, as well as a host of others. Baglio’s interests are varied, and his work has exposed him to topics as diverse as Vatican politics, anti-mafia police, the Olympics, and satanic cults. Currently, he lives in Rome with his wife and son. “The Rite” is his first book.

The novel impels the believer and the agnostic to consider the unavoidable presence of the devil in a new way.



In that sense, it belongs to the rare and cherished genre of books capable of changing the reader in one way or another. “The purpose of this book is not to promote any one faith over another, but to offer a detailed account of one priest’s journey from a rational skeptic to a practicing exorcist,” Baglio said. “I didn’t set out to write with any preconceived bias and as such the book is written in a straightforward journalistic style, which means that I give respect to the beliefs and testimonies on all sides, including medical science.”

From the theoretical point of view, it makes sense to believe that, if the existence of a higher good being is postulated, the personification of evil could be perceived by humans in certain circumstances.

“You be careful, Michael; choosing not to believe in the devil will not protect you from him,” says Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) in the movie.

The ultimate question we are all compelled to answer by reading the book is the one used as the title of the movie’s official Web site: “What do you believe?”



By Michael H. Brown

The other night there was a case on television of a “haunted” home where an evil transpiring was driving a family to distraction — they eventually had to move out — and the part that got my attention was the involvement of a priest. The family had a local cleric come to bless the home, and the blessing did not take.

The “haunting” (I would call it an “infestation,” since it was more demonic) continued.

It was not just the case of an unsettled spirit.


As can happen, those exposed to it had become ill and in the case of one female occupant, possessed.

The priest came once more — this time with a psychic in tow, relying on the psychic to “see” who or what the trouble was. The man envisioned instances of murder many decades before, in the days when the West was being settled. This, it seemed, was a murderous stagecoach stop. Still the haunting continued. The family — bankrupt — fled. In an interview, the mother expressed surprise that the blessing had not worked. The whole episode caused this woman, who was raised Catholic, to believe that all religions have a certain validity, but that they each have only part of the truth.


This week I contemplated of how very much of the Truth the Catholic Church has (more, with all due respect, than any other Church), as well as why that blessing did not work. It was not that Catholicism could not handle the situation, but that its tools — tools of fasting, tools of exorcism — were not fully used. Such happens often everywhere. Many problems have this as a source that is unrecognized. It is a sign of our times that somehow so many priests, religious, and of course congregants have forgotten about exorcism and fasting. But we should know this: fasting elevates us above the physical. It also elevates us above the demonic. It ends “hauntings.” Satan is the “prince” of this world — but not the spiritual one. And so when we fast, we are rising above his torments, we are inoculated, we are with the old Church, and we are buffered with special heavenly protection. I noted that there was no indication that the priest involved with this case, nor anyone else, had fasted. I doubt there was because no evil spirit can stand up to it. Resist the devil and he will flee from faith, prayer, and fasting because he has to.

It said it all in the Mass reading the day
before the start of Lent, when Jesus found His disciples arguing with scribes. It turned out the squabble was over a boy who was possessed by a mute spirit that the disciples had not been able to cast out. “O faithless generation,” said Jesus, taking over.
Goes on the Gospel [Mark 9:14-29]: “Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. [The boy] became like a corpse, which caused many to say, ‘He is dead!’ But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, His disciples asked him in private, “Why could we not drive the spirit out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting.'” I am not scholarly enough to know why, but in the New American version of the Bible, which is the one used at Catholic Mass, the word “fasting” no longer appears. Is this an issue of translation or another sign of modern times? For centuries,
exorcists have taught the crucial nature of fasting in the deliverance and healing ministries.


Nothing can stand before fasting with prayer because it is the entire body praying. It is sacrifice. It is participation in Calvary. It is the involvement of our blood with His. And during Lent, it is all the more powerful — especially on Fridays. Jesus fasted forty days before He dared conduct public ministry. During that time, Satan appeared directly to Him — but He was able to fend Him off. The fasting brought Him into direct contact with the supernatural (even though He was in fully human form). As it says even in the Mass reading today [2/23]: “Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!” [Isaiah 58].

In our times it is especially crucial as we see the demons active around (and among) us.



One reason there has been great deception in our time — including among the devout, in Marian circles, among charismatics — has been an end to this practice. When we fast and bless our families and homes, it truly does count for more. And internally — as the Pope said we must do during the Forty Days — it cleanses. In fact, said Benedict, it is a weapon. Fasting and other Lenten practices are motivated by “man’s need to purify himself from within and detoxify himself from sin and evil,” the pontiff intoned on Ash Wednesday, allowing the faithful to free themselves “from the slavery of his own self “and more available “to serve his brothers.” Such actions are “spiritual weapons in the fight against evil, wicked passions, and vices,” he said. Do you see problems in families? Do you see dilemmas that seemed “passed down” through the generations? Do you hear of people who are “haunted” (or demonized)? In many cases it can only be solved — cast out — by fasting. This is not to say “abstinence.” This is to say eating only bread, drinking water, perhaps taking a little coffee or wine or juice, but going a day without food, if one is physically able. That was the old fast (the best is on bread and water), and when we do it, the sky is the limit and we greatly build up our protection.



By Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
I’ve read many term papers in my day. Most of them are no more than a patchwork of quotes. That’s because college students are smart enough to know that they really can’t say much on their own authority–to make their case, they have to lean on the authority of others more learned than themselves.
That’s exactly how the scribes and Pharisee’s taught in Jesus’ day. “Rabbi Abraham says this. . . Rabbi Gamaliel says that . . .”
So when a new young rabbi appears in Capernaum, this is what people expect. They are in for a surprise: he quotes no one else except God’s Word. That’s because there is no one more learned than He. In fact, he happens to be God’s Word made flesh.
But he doesn’t just speak to the humble townspeople this way. When he encounters superhuman forces that strike fear into the hearts of men, he is unruffled. There are no incantations; he does not plead. Rather than Jesus being afraid of them, the demons are afraid of him. Upon seeing them, they shriek. He calmly commands–”shut up and get out”. A moment later all is still. A former victim is now a free man and bystanders marvel. Word easily travels fast–little Capernaum happens to be right on a caravan route from Syria to the region of Galilee and beyond.
But isn’t all this talk of demons just a relic of the mythological world view of pre-scientific people? After all, these primitive folks don’t know about mental illness, chemical imbalance, viruses, and bacteria. Surely they just explained what they could not understand in terms of the supernatural.
That sounds very sophisticated, but it’s dead wrong. First of all, demons are not supernatural at all. Super-natural means above and beyond nature or creation–in other words, uncreated and transcendent. Only God qualifies for this label.
St. Thomas called the realm of angels and demons “preternatural” since it escapes the sensory knowledge that we can have of the rest of creation. We human beings were created by God as enfleshed spirits. But divine revelation tells us that God also created pure spiritual beings with the same freedom we have. Those who have chosen to use that freedom to serve God we call “angels” or messengers. Those who used their freedom to defy God are called demons. Pride and envy lead them to hate not only God, but us who are made in God’s image and likeness.
So people in Jesus day had good cause to fear demons–they are hostile and powerful. Plus, their intelligence is superior to ours–note that the demon in the story, unlike the humans, instantly recognized who Jesus was.
OK, the ancients may have attributed too much to demonic influence, but moderns tend to make the opposite error. The existence of the angelic and demonic realm is part of the ordinary teaching of the Church’s Magisterium, clearly reaffirmed clearly by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. In fact when we say in the Creed that we believe in the Creator of heaven and earth, “of all things visible and invisible,” the invisible things refer precisely to this world.
So why is it important to believe that such creatures exist? Because the first rule of warfare is to know your enemy. Paul tells us clearly in Ephesians 6:12 “Our battle is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers . . . the evil spirits.”
Only God has power over this world. Jesus, in commanding the demons, as he later in the Gospel commands the wind and the waves, does only what God can do. Once we are joined to Christ, the enemy has no more authority or power over us. Unless, of course, we give it to him through sin. If we cling to the Lord and listen to him, we have nothing to worry about. If not, we have lots to worry about.

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
is a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.



By Carl E. Olson
Imagine a saint – a priest – so dedicated to God that he often went days without eating, and when he did eat, it was a boiled potato or a piece of hard bread.
Although many considered him unfit for the priesthood, he revived the crushed faith of an impoverished village and often spent eighteen hours a day hearing confessions, often sleeping only an hour or two each night.
As the reputation of this holy man of God spread, pilgrims began to seek him out, sometimes waiting days for him to hear their confession, heal their illnesses, and speak directly to their deepest needs. But not everyone was so pleased. This priest began to be attacked, sometimes physically and, at other times, emotionally and psychologically. He was verbally mocked, scorned, and abused. At night he was subjected to loud and violent noises for hours on end. He was pulled from bed in the middle of the night and, on one occasion, his bed was set on fire.
Despite this constant abuse, the priest never called the police or requested security. It wouldn’t have mattered, for the abuse and taunts did not come from another human, but from Satan. The priest, of course, was St. John Vianney (1786-1859), the Curé of Ars, whose feast is celebrated August 4.
Although rightly renowned for his holiness, asceticism, and spiritual insight, the Curé of Ars was also remarkable for his courage and steadiness in the face of the Devil. For some thirty-five years (1824-1858) Satan assaulted the Saint in a nearly endless number of ways, seeking to break the will and resolve of the great man of God: making harrowing noises, singing in a wicked voice, meowing like a cat, or shouting, “Vianney! Vianney! Potato eater!”

Living being or scary symbol?
Many people today would believe St. John Vianney’s struggles with Satan to simply be the result of psychological problems that weren’t understood or properly identified in his day. They would explain that in a less scientific age people often attributed behaviors they didn’t understand to the work of the devil, but now we can treat many such illnesses with proper medication and therapy. Behavior that once was deemed demonic or caused by spiritual oppression can be explained by science and psychology, as newspapers, magazines, and television programs instruct us on a regular basis.
While it’s not surprising that non-Christians or non-religious people might make such assessments, there’s evidence that more and more Christians are rejecting the ancient belief that Satan is a real, living being.
In his 1991 book, What Americans Believe (Regal Books; page 26), Evangelical pollster George Barna reported that a survey of 1005 Americans found that 60% of respondents, regardless of religious affiliation, believed that Satan was “only a symbol of evil,” while 35% believed he is “a living being.” Just over half of the respondents who described themselves as “born again Christians” believed Satan is a living being, while only 26% of Catholics agreed, with almost 7 out of10 Catholics saying Satan is only a symbol of evil.
In December 1993, Time magazine featured a story and an opinion poll on angels. The poll revealed that 69% of respondents believed in the existence of angels, but only 49% believed in the existence of fallen “angels or devils.” Two years later, in 1995, another Barna survey revealed that about 58% of American adults believed that Satan is “not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”
And, finally, an October 2002 study by the Barna Group (“Americans Draw Theological Beliefs From Diverse Points of View“) found that 59% of Americans reject the existence of Satan, instead believing he is merely a symbol of evil. The study stated: “Catholics are much more likely than Protestants to hold this view – 75% compared to 55% – although a majority of both groups concur that Satan is symbolic.” The study also noted that the rejection of Satan’s existence apparently conflicted with the fact that 54% of respondents believed that “a human being can be under the control or the influence of spiritual forces such as demons.” The religious group with the highest percentage (59%) of members who believe that Satan is a living entity was Mormon. The group with the lowest percentage, at 17%, was Catholic.
For some people, the path from denying Satan is a living being to denying his existence in any form – even an impersonal and abstract one – is a short one. As many have noted, this is probably how Satan would prefer it. The French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) is credited with the saying that “the Devil’s cleverest wile is to convince us that he does not exist.” In his book, The Eternal Galilean, Archbishop Fulton Sheen warned readers: “Do not mock the Gospels and say there is no Satan. Evil is too real in the world to say that. Do not say the idea of Satan is dead and gone. Satan never gains so many cohorts as when, in his shrewdness, he spreads the rumor that he is long since dead.”
Even though there are priests, catechists, and Catholic educators who may never speak of Satan and who – either directly or indirectly – apparently deny his existence, Satan is not dead, nor has the Church demoted him to a vague, impersonal force. While a growing number of people, including an alarming number of Catholics, are being convinced (or have convinced themselves) that the Devil is just a figment of primitive imaginations, the Church’s teachings today about him are just as robust and clear as ever.

For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church contains numerous references to Satan, or the Devil, explaining that he was originally a good angel who rebelled against God (CCC 391), he is a creature of pure spirit who is powerful but not infinite (CCC 395), and that his goal is to destroy man by turning him against God (CCC 414). Especially striking is the Catechism’s explanation that the petition “Deliver us from evil” in the Our Father does not refer to evil as “an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God.
The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who “throws himself across’ God’s plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ” (CCC 2851). So even those who deny the personal, creaturely nature of Satan unwittingly acknowledge it whenever they recite the Our Father.

The names and the fall of Satan

In a general audience titled “Confronting the Devil’s power,” (November 15, 1972) Pope Paul VI said that it is a departure from “biblical Church teaching to refuse to knowledge the Devil’s existence; to regard him as a self-sustaining principle who, unlike other creatures, does not owe his origin to God; or to explain the Devil as a pseudo-reality, a conceptual, fanciful personification of the unknown causes of our misfortunes.” Here are expressed three major truths about Satan, all of them found in the Bible: the Devil exists, he is a creature who was created by God, and he is very real.
The name Satan appears numerous times in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. The Hebrew word satan refers to an adversary, or to someone who plots opposition to another. It is used several times in the Old Testament to describe the work of both human and heavenly beings sent to stop, or oppose, the actions of a wrongdoer and to act as an agent of judgment on behalf of God. Eventually, in the decades immediately prior to the time of Christ, the word began to be used as a proper name – Satan – for a heavenly creature who is in complete opposition to God and who seeks to ruin His work. In Jewish apocryphal writings he is understood to be the prince of evil spirits whose expulsion from heaven was due to his refusal to recognize man as the image of God (cf. Genesis 1:26-27).
Throughout the New Testament he is referred to by many other names, including Beelzebul (Mark 3:22; Matthew 10:25; 12: 24), Belial/Beliar (2 Corinthians 6:15), the evil one (Matthew 13:19; John 17:15; 1 John 5:18, 19), the enemy (Matthew 13:25, 28, 29; Luke 10:19), the ruler of the demons (Mark 3:22), the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30), the great dragon (Revelation 12:9), the serpent, or serpent of old (2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9, 14, 14; 20:2), and the tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). And, of course, he is called “the Devil” (Matthew 4:1; 25:41; Luke 4:2; John 13:2; Acts 10:38), which derives from the Greek word diabolos (Latin, diabolus), which means “slanderer” or “accuser.”

Satan, like all creatures, was created by God – and created naturally good. He was an angel, a being of pure spirit created for the glory of God and do the Creator’s work. But something went horribly wrong with Satan and some of the other angels. Possessing free will, they chose to rebel against their Maker. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) stated that although they were created “good according to their nature” by God, they fell from heaven because “they made themselves evil by their own doing.” As the Catechism notes, this action, God’s allowance of it, and the resulting evil are a “great mystery” (CCC 395). Quoting St. John Damascene, the Catechism also explains that this sin of Satan and his angels is unforgivable, having a permanent and irrevocable character (CCC 393).
This mysterious, cosmic event is referred to in passing in 2 Peter, which mentions the angels who had sinned (v. 4; cf. Matthew 25:41; Job 4:18) and John’s first epistle, which states that “the devil has sinned from the beginning” (1 Jn 3:8). The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the tail of “the great red dragon” sweeping away “a third of the stars of heaven” (vs. 3-4), commonly understood to refer to the fall of Satan and his angels. The same chapter also describes a war in heaven between those fallen beings and the archangel Michael and his angels:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
That scene from the final book of the Bible serves as a bookend of sorts with the first mention of “the serpent” in Genesis 3 and the well-known story of the temptation in the Garden of Eden and the subsequent Fall.
The serpent, described as the most cunning of the animals (Genesis 3:1) tempts Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which she eventually does. Some biblical scholars doubt the author of Genesis had Satan in mind when he wrote about the serpent. However, in the ancient Near East the serpent was often believed to be a cosmic figure who is identified with a monster of chaos and who represents the powers of evil and darkness. In later Jewish thought the serpent of Genesis 3 became identified with Satan, either as a symbol of Satan or as his mouthpiece (cf. Wisdom 2:24).
That identification is also explicit in the New Testament, especially in Revelation 12, which identifies the dragon as “the ancient serpent,” the Devil, and Satan.


Jesus described the devil as being “a murderer from the beginning” and “a liar, and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44) and St. Paul writes of the serpent who “deceived Eve by his cunning” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Likewise, the Catechism explains that behind the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden “lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called ‘Satan’ or the ‘devil’.” (CCC 391)

The witness of the New Testament

If ever there was a person who believed in the existence of Satan, it was Jesus. It is easy to forget, especially since it isn’t mentioned often these days, that Jesus understood that Satan is the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), a murderer, a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44). In fact, Jesus plainly stated that a key aspect of the salvation He offered the world involved the destruction of Satan’s power in the world:
Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show by what death he was to die. (John 12:31-33; cf. John 16:11; 1 John 3:8)
To that end, Jesus often cured people suffering from demonic possession (Matthew 9:33; 17:18; Mark 7:26-30; Luke 4:33-35; Luke 9:38-42), demonstrating His power over evil and the “prince of demons” (Matthew 9:34; 12:24; cf. Ephesians 2:2). And while Satan is not the focus of the Gospel, there were important moments in Jesus’ ministry when He either spoke of Satan or to Satan.
The Catechism points out that the Evil One, the ruler of this world, has “mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory” (CCC 2855). Satan wants to rule all things, to have power everywhere and over everything, and steal and destroy the glory of all that exists.
This is dramatically shown in Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; CCC 540), which inaugurated Jesus’ public ministry. Satan tempted Jesus to show His power by turning stones into bread. He tempted Jesus to reveal His heavenly glory by throwing Himself from the top of the Temple and having angels carry Him to safety. And the Evil One offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He will fall down and worship him. However, Jesus knew that His kingdom could only be established through suffering and death. He understood that true power comes through love and sacrifice, not fear and arrogance. And He knew that His glorified body would result from rising from the grave, not by avoiding it. These temptations echo the temptations that Adam and the people of Israel underwent. But while they failed to resist the work of Satan, Jesus is victorious over the tempter (CCC 538-540).
Jesus’ rejection of Satan’s temptations showed the heart of the Messiah who was intent on establishing His Kingdom. But Jesus’ also knew that His Church and the Kingdom would come under severe attack from Satan and his angels. He told St. Peter that the powers of hell would seek to destroy the Church but would not prevail (Matt 16:18). He also told the chief apostle, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31), indicating some of the hardships the apostles would have to endure. While St. Peter denies Jesus, he repents of his sin; Judas, on the other hand, is seduced by Satan and betrays Jesus (John 13:2, 27).
The apostles also recognized the reality and power of Satan – and of the Savior’s victory over him. St. Paul mentions Satan in several of his epistles, often in the context of temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11) and spiritual conflict (Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:27; 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:18). He draws a careful distinction between Satan’s ability to tempt and man’s free will to reject or accept the temptation. In other words, the apostle does not confuse Satan and sin. Satan wants us to sin, but we choose sin on our own, using our free will. St. James makes the same point when he writes, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Vivid descriptions of Satan include “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and “the great red dragon” with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 12:3-17).
Finally, the Bible says a few words about the fate awaiting Satan. Just before His arrest, Jesus tells his disciples that the Devil and his angels are destined for “eternal fire” that has been prepared for them (Matthew 25:41). And at the end of time, after being allowed to test the faithful for a time (Revelation 20:7), Satan will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10; cf. CCC 677).

The work of Satan today

In 1972 Evangelical author Hal Lindsey wrote a book titled Satan Is Alive and Well On Planet Earth. It was full of descriptions of occult activities, bizarre behavior, debauchery, and paranormal activity, all intended to convince readers that Satan is even more active and successful than ever before. On one hand, such a book helps people to recognize that Satan is alive, he is active, and he does seek to destroy lives in a multitude of ways. On the other hand, such sensationalism can lead to an imbalanced view of Satan, even to a dangerous preoccupation.

There are much better guides for Christians looking to learn more about Satan without losing perspective. One such work is “Christian Faith and Demonology,” (June 26, 1975) found in Vatican II: More Post Conciliar Documents (Vatican Collection, Volume 2), edited by Austin Flannery, O.P. (The Liturgical Press, 1982). It provides a helpful list of truths to consider when it comes to the reality and work of Satan in the world today. They include:

This is the clear and consistent teaching of the Church and to deny it is to actually call into question the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and his consciousness and understanding of Satan, evil, and sin. Be humble in the face of the mystery of evil and pursue a life of holiness, including the rejection of Satan and all of his ways, by God’s grace.

The Church does not allow us to say, “The devil made me do it!” Man has free will and liberty; he is also able to call upon God, who is far more powerful than Satan can ever dream of being.

Demonic activity is real and there are people who suffer from demonic infestation and even possession. But don’t be taken in by sensational reports that might be inaccurate or poorly communicated. Discernment comes from knowing what the Church teaches about demonic activity and from careful investigation of claims.

He can also be incredibly arrogant in his denial of things that cannot be explained by science or reason alone. Again, humility is essential. Let Scripture and the teachings of the Church be your guide.

Satan desires to destroy man and he is deadly serious in his ceaseless quest to do so. Through faith in God, we can resist Satan. It’s true that he can tempt us and that he looks for opportunities to cause us to sin. But though he can tempt us, Satan cannot force us to sin. And by faith we can have assurance about his end and the triumph that God grants over him.

The culture often doubts evil and acts as though evil, if it does exist, is a vague, impersonal force. Yet the culture is also fascinated by evil, as the success of horror films, literature about Satan and demonic possession, and endless newscasts about evil acts (kidnappings, murders, violent crime, etc.) indicates. We must work to show that the mystery of evil should not attract us, but repulse us. The challenge is to show that the Cross is about true life and victory, while acts of evil are indicative of death and defeat.
It is said that the Devil told St. John Vianney, “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.” The Saint, for his part, developed a remarkable sense of humor about the supernatural assaults, saying, “Oh! the grappin” – his nickname for the Devil – “and myself? We are almost chums.”
It’s not likely that we’ll ever have to struggle with Satan the way St. John Vianney did, but we should be familiar with who he is and what he does – and why he must be resisted. That begins with acknowledging that he exists and that he wants to destroy us. It means knowing that although he is powerful, Satan is limited and he is already defeated (CCC 2852, 2864). Imagine a person so dedicated to God that he becomes likes St. John Vianney. That saint could be you.
This article was originally published in a slightly different form in the July 31, 2005 issue of Our Sunday Visitor.
CARL E. OLSON is the co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code and author of Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”? He has written for numerous Catholic periodicals and is a regular contributor to National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor newspapers.


The Exorcist

By Renzo Allegri

An exclusive interview with the Church’s leading exorcist and honorary president-for-life of the International Association of Exorcists

Father Gabriele Amorth is the leader of Rome’s six exorcists. He is also the most famous Catholic exorcist in the world. People come to see him from all round the world to ask for help in defeating satanic oppression, in other words, to combat the Devil in all his various activities against mankind.

He is 78 years old and belongs to the Society of St. Paul, the Congregation founded by James Alberione in 1914, known for his intense activity in mass communication. Fr. Gabriele too, for many years, was involved in mass media, and edited the magazine, Mother of God. As well as a theology degree, Fr. Gabriele has also graduated in law. Having written many books and essays about the Virgin Mary, he has acquired the title of expert in Mariology has been nominated member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy. But since having been entrusted with the role of exorcist in the diocese of Rome, his time has been completely consumed by his new ministry.


These days he is considered the world’s leading expert on problems concerning Satan and his evil activity against mankind. He is the ‘doctor’ par excellence for illnesses caused by evil, the ‘surgeon’ who knows how to root them out, fight and prevent them.

‘I would never have thought I’d be asked by the Church to carry out such a difficult mission,’ he recently declared when I met him for this interview. ‘Cardinal Ugo Poletti sent me the mandate when he was vicar of the diocese of Rome and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). Luckily, at the beginning, I was the helper of one of the greatest exorcists that ever existed, Fr. Candido Amantini, a holy man whose cause for beatification is about to be opened. He was an exorcist in Rome for 36 years and was an incredible teacher.’

It is difficult to arrange a meeting with Fr. Amorth especially as he never has a moment free. For this interview he managed to spare a few hours one Thursday morning, but even during our conversation, he received telephone calls from people all over the world who were in need of him. ‘It is incredible,’ he says, ‘to see how many people look for an exorcist, and unfortunately there are few priests who are able to help them. For several centuries, the Church has overlooked the ministry of exorcism.’

He speaks with determination. His faith is unwavering, based on the Scripture and on the teachings of the Church. He reveals a deep knowledge of the subjects he discusses, extensive experience sustained by numerous case histories. ‘I think I must have carried out over 70,000 exorcisms in my lifetime. The problems I am called to deal with every day concern people who are suffering physically, psychologically and spiritually. These problems are caused by the Devil. At times they are so serious they lead a person to suicide or death. Faced with many priests who reveal themselves to be sceptical, indifferent or who consider these problems to be the fruit of imagination or obsession, I get very angry.’

But are there really priests who are sceptical about this topic?

‘Many if not lots! Contemporary religious culture, while not negating the existence of Satan and the other rebellious angels, is inclined to diminish their influence over people. Discrediting this influence is almost compulsory and is considered a sign of wisdom. This mentality, which is completely wrong, is commonplace not only among lay people, but also among priests, theologians and even bishops, the practical consequences of which are far-reaching.’

On what basis do you judge this mentality to be ‘completely wrong’?

‘On the basis of the Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Fathers, the Councils, and the tradition of the Church. Since the very beginning, the Church has taught that evil, pain, sin, death and hell are not works of God. They are works of Satan. God created everything to be ‘good’. Satan was the most perfect of all angels, but he rebelled against God and became his enemy. Satan corrupted Adam, introducing him to sin and the world of evil, death, pain and illness. God, to repair the break caused by Adam’s sin, sent His only Son Jesus to earth to redeem mankind through His passion, death and resurrection. But the battle continues. Mortal beings, during their experience on the earth, are blessed with freedom. They can choose between good and evil, between God and Satan. Jesus, while He was on the earth, indicated the path towards salvation, and He set up the basis of an organisation, His Church, which is the sure guide towards the eternal Kingdom, and defence against Satan’s attacks. The experience of every person, in his/her spatial-temporal dimension, is a test, a battle, a challenge in order to reach eternal life. Jesus works through His Church, Satan through his empire of evil. Ignoring these simple truths means not having a true awareness. Unfortunately, Christians no longer believe in these things these days. There is a harmful tendency to remove Satan and the other spirits of evil. But in this way, their power is only increased. This is perhaps why, in this day and age, Satan is so powerful and his influence over mankind is so great.’

Some theologians, when they quote the Gospel and Scripture concerning Satan, declare that these are themes which need to be interpreted.

‘See! Even you have discovered how many theologians claim to ‘interpret’ Sacred Scripture about this stinging issue. The reality is too serious, harsh and terrible to be accepted to the letter and so for this reason they turn to ‘interpretations’. Interpretations which are wrong and which go against the Gospel. The existence of the Devil and his wicked influence on people is an indisputable fact of the Church. St. John clearly wrote in his Gospel that Christ descended from Heaven and became man to destroy the work of the Devil. Jesus’ entire life was devoted to this aim. There are numerous concrete examples. The Fathers of the Church have always taught this truth without hesitation. Only in the last few centuries has this doctrine lost its strength: not because of the Church’s teaching, but because of some theologians. Officially, the Church has always affirmed the existence of Satan and his negative influence, but in practice, the clergy have been influenced by theories which question the existence of Satan. Some time ago, a researcher carried out an enquiry among Catholic priests, and the results showed that two thirds accepted, in theory, traditional doctrine about the Devil, but that they rejected the practical consequences. And yet on 29 June 1972, Pope Paul VI explicitly addressed the topic of Satan during Mass at St. Peter’s. He called him ‘the enemy of mankind’ ‘preternatural being’ and accused him of wanting to destroy the fruits of the Council. The reactions of the lay world and of Modernist theologians were violent, but they didn’t intimidate the Pope who on 15 November of the same year returned to the topic clarifying that ‘Satan is enemy number one, he is the tempter par


We know that this dark and disturbing being exists for real and acts… he is the sophistic tempter of mankind’s moral equilibrium…’ At the end of his long speech, the Pope categorically stated: ‘Whoever refuses to recognise the reality of the Devil rejects biblical and ecclesiastical teaching.’ There are no doubts of any kind: denying the existence of the Devil destroys Christ’s Redemption. Whoever does not believe in the existence of the Devil, does not believe in the Gospel or in the Church.’

You are the Church’s leading exorcist. How did you begin this activity?

‘By chance. For many years, I carried out my normal role as priest, hearing confessions, preaching, saying Mass, administering the Sacraments and above all, writing books and articles in the spirit of us followers of St. Paul. The Devil and exorcisms only interested me from a theoretical point of view.

‘I was good friends with Cardinal Ugo Poletti former vicar general of Rome. One day, in June 1986, I went to see him and while we were chatting it came out that I knew Fr. Candido Amantini. ‘You know Fr. Candido?’ asked the cardinal. ‘That priest is in need of help because he is very ill, you should help him.’ He began writing on headed paper. I realised that he was assigning me to the role of assistant exorcist and I began to protest. ‘No, I can’t, you know that I’m a rascal, I’m only good at telling jokes and playing pranks’ but to no avail. I left the Cardinal with the role of assistant exorcist to Fr. Candido, and that is how it all began.’

Were you scared of the Devil?

‘Of course, but I also knew that Jesus had beaten Satan and the Virgin had crushed him. So I put myself under the protection of both Jesus and Mary. ‘Wrap me in your cloak,’ I said to the Virgin, ‘and I will always feel safe.’ And in fact, over the years I have performed over 70,000 exorcisms and nothing has ever happened to me.’

What were your first experiences like?

‘There was no time to savour experiences. There was a lot of work to do since Fr. Candido was in poor health. Actually, the most interesting experience was working with him. Each day was a surprise and a new lesson. By his side, I realised that books were pretty useless. Experience is what counts, especially concerning such delicate topics. It is as if a young doctor who had just graduated were given a book on surgery which would explain to him how to carry out open heart surgery. Fr. Candido, with his 36 years of experience, was an incomparable teacher.

‘I realised straight away how important exorcisms were for people suffering from cruel afflictions. And at the same time I realised that these people were overlooked, abandoned and often left to deal with their problems by themselves because of a lack of exorcists. I realised that many bishops and priests didn’t believe that the Devil could cause disease and other physical disturbances in people and, when asked for help, they recommend doctors or psychoanalysts. So I told myself that I needed to inform people and thus I began writing, giving interviews, and participating in TV and radio debates, rousing immense interest. I wrote three books: the first is called An exorcist tells his story (Ignatius Press), and it has been translated in thirteen different languages. The English version is already in its ninth edition. I then wrote New tales by an exorcist (Ignatius Press) and recently Exorcists and Psychiatry (Edizioni Dehonomiane) which still needs to be translated into English.

This popularising activity of mine has helped stir up debate and the indifference and scepticism of certain bishops too. There used to be dioceses without even an exorcist. The situation has now improved considerably.’

What physical troubles can the Devil cause?

‘Various types, ranging from actual bodily possession, to torments, illnesses and possession of your home. Demon-possessed people, that is, those whose body has ‘physically’ been invaded by satanic spirits, are very rare. But there are many people who are disturbed or oppressed by Satan.’

And exorcisms can overcome these troubles?

‘Exorcism is a medicine, a special help. Jesus said to all believers ‘In My name they will cast out demons…’ (Mark 16:17). This power which Jesus gave to all His believers is completely valid. It is a power based on faith and prayer, which everyone can use in their daily lives. But this is only concerning normal cases, daily temptations and minor satanic problems. When Satan, for particular reasons, decides to target a person and take over his/her body, tormenting the possessed one trying to destroy him/her, then a powerful intervention is needed. The Church has established a rite especially for this very aim: exorcism. This involves a special prayer which is carried out in the name of the Church itself, by people entrusted with this role. This is why exorcisms must be carried out exclusively by bishops or priests who have been especially appointed by their diocesan bishop. Lay people can never carry out exorcisms. The results are nearly always positive, and at times, sensational. However, it is essential to have faith, pray a lot and, in certain cases, years may pass before a person is completely freed from demonic possession.’

You mentioned that the Devil can also cause illness?

‘Exactly. The Devil has the power to cause physical and mental illnesses. There have been numerous cases in which I have met people who had spent a fortune going from one specialist to another in an attempt to relieve their suffering. Yet, their doctors, having carried out all sorts of tests, including the most sophisticated, were unable to find anything wrong. And yet these people continued to suffer and feel themselves slowly dying. Such disorders are thus mysterious, but real, causing these people to lose weight, reducing them to skin and bones and making them often bed-ridden.


In such cases, it is possible that the Devil has a hand in it, and thus only prayer and exorcism can produce useful results. I have seen people at death’s door suffering from illnesses unknown to modern medicine who have recovered thanks to the help of exorcisms.’

Who can catch Satan’s eye?

‘Anyone. I have had cases involving people from all walks of life: simple people, housewives, but also professors, doctors and politicians, lay people as well as priests and nuns. It is important to specify that demonic possession and obsession involves the body. Satan can affect someone’s body, but never their soul. He can only become the master of someone’s soul if that person hands it over to him by his/her own free will. Thus anyone can end up in Satan’s grip. There have even been saints who have been seriously disturbed by Satan’s force.’

How can we defend ourselves against the Devil?

‘Above all, by leading a healthy life, devoted to God. Satan is God’s enemy. God is our Father, a loving Father. Those who stick to God through prayer and a life based on justice and truth, through the guidance of the Virgin Mary, the saints and their guardian angels, put themselves in a protected position. Even if, as I have already said, there are incidences of good and holy people who, for God’s mysterious reasons, are put to the test. However whoever lives in indifference, in absent-mindedness, far from God, is open to an easy satanic conquest. Worse still are those who look for experiences beyond the limit and seek out the satanic world. In these cases, it is practically impossible to avoid ending up in the Devil’s clutches.’

What do you mean by ‘experiences beyond the limit’?

‘I refer to those who deliberately seek out the Devil by joining Satanic sects. They are secret groups which are difficult to pinpoint but which exist and operate. They are well-organised, they have meeting places, priests and rites which finish in so-called ‘Black Masses’. Every now and then, you read in the papers that tabernacles have been vandalised and consecrated hosts stolen: acts carried out by worshippers of Satan for their ‘Black Masses’.

Have you ever met anyone who has taken part in these satanic sects?

‘Some. Not many however, because whoever enters these sects finds it hard to get out.’

Why would someone choose to be a follower of Satan?

‘Usually for very base reasons. In order to have immediate benefits, for example: money, pleasure, success and power. They tie themselves to Satan with real blood pacts. I have seen many of these pacts, because when someone tries to escape this situation, he or she brings me the written ‘document’ and we burn it together. These pacts usually read: ‘Satan, you are my god, I give myself to you, I want to be yours for all eternity, I adore you.”

Do these people who tie themselves to Satan obtain the favours they ask?

‘Satan is a liar and a cheat. At the beginning he ensures his followers obtain all they wish for, but then he destroys all of his followers because as the Bible says, he ‘is homicide from the beginning.”

You describe a dramatic image…

‘I’d be a liar if I said the situation was any different. We must have a clear vision of the reality of our lives. Our experience on earth is a test, a battle to reach eternal life. The Church was instituted by Jesus to help people in their struggle against evil. But if the people of the Church, deputies there to help mankind, do not unite themselves with determination against Satan and fight tooth and nail to save their brothers and sisters, then Satan is free to create havoc and destruction with impunity. Satan’s biggest triumph is mankind’s conviction that he doesn’t exist.’

Thirty years ago, the notorious film The Exorcist was released. What do you think of this film?

It’s one of my favourite films! Of course, the special effects are exaggerated, but it is a good film, and substantially exact, based on a respectable novel which is mirrored on a true story. I recommend it. People need to know what we do.’


Demonic Possession in the modern world

The idea of a malevolent diabolical force having power over the physical body sounds almost medieval in nature when put in perspective with our modern age world, but in reality it does occur in modern times all to often. With items such as the Ouija boards and other occult type paraphernalia becoming more and more accessible, many people young and old and from all walks of life are getting involved with the subject which was not so easily accessed in the past as it is now. With this accessibility one can only imagine what the future will bring for these unfortunate souls, who unknowingly put themselves in harms way of a force that they do not realize cannot be controlled and will ultimately control them in the end.


Psychological viewpoint

There are many types of mental and physical anomalies that can resemble demonic possession. For that reason it is always standard procedure prior to exorcism to have a medical and psychological evaluation performed on the person affected.


This evaluation would be done by a medical doctor and psychiatrist, to rule out any possibility of physical or mental conditions or anomalies that may have been over looked in the questioning prior. The risk of not knowing that someone suffers from an MPD (multiple personality disorder), a schizophrenic problem or some other mental or physical ailment is extremely dangerous for everyone involved, especially the client. Caution is always to be practiced, even if exorcism is not an option for the person at that particular time.


Obsession, oppression and possession

Evil spirits operate in different ways. A particular form is diabolical obsession. This the first initial contact between victim and the demonic where in the demon will gain a stronghold through recognition given it by the victim. But diabolical obsession is not the primary way the demon exerts its influence.

Oppression has sensational features in which the demon in a certain ways takes over the physical powers of the person. However, the demon cannot control the person’s free will and thus cannot cause the person to sin. Nevertheless, the physical violence and dehumanization that the demon exerts over the obsessed person is an inducement to sin, and this is what the demon seeks for absolute and total possession of this poor individual of whom we speak.

In the evaluation of a person who claims to be possessed certain criteria have to be met. The person has to show at least some signs of possession as it is written in the (cf. Code of cannon law 1172). The ritual of exorcism indicates various criteria and signs which allow us to reach with prudent conviction that we are dealing with diabolical possession.

These following signs are a guide for the person doing the evaluation:


Manifestations of the demonic in the possessed

(1) Extraordinary strength, male or female.

(2) The knowledge of hidden things.

(3) Levitation and or bilocation of person.

(4) Physical anomalies such as burns, cuts or bruises.

(5) Speaking in languages not known to person.

(6) Extreme aversion to God, saints or holy objects.

These are only a few of the outward manifestations of demonic possession. There are dozens more which are taken into account before a final diagnosis is reached. It is only then that the authorized exorcist, with the permission of the bishop, can perform the solemn rite of exorcism. This process may take up to a few weeks or a few months depending on the case and on how many times these rites need to be prescribed.


Possession according to the degree

Possession of the first degree:

Mysteriously, the demon can sometimes invade the psyche of a human being, taking the control of his or her body and his or her intentions. The phenomenon lasts until he or she is not annulled by the exorcism, or for established periods previously. In this degree of possession the demon is latent; he or she limits him to alter the attitudes of the possessed one. By his or her reactions to the sacred, it instills in them feelings of desperation and depression.

Possession of the second degree:

At this degree changes of voice manifest in the possessed, also preternatural phenomenon such as glossolalia, levitation and pirocinesi (power to set on fire distance objects) may occur. Holy water also can produce sores on the body of the possessed.

Possession of the third degree:

To this degree the malignant spirit (or spirits) have taken such dominion over the person as to even alter horribly his or her somatic lines (relating to bodily changes) his or her odor, and temperature. This is the most arduous case, and it usually requires numerous exorcisms for the definitive liberation. In effect, the difference among the last three gradations is only a fine line; the range between one degree to the other is without imperceptible change.



(Maleficio) of occult practices to intentionally cause malignancy, injury and or possession.

Anytime a case is to be evaluated for further treatment and a psychological problem has already been ruled out, the person evaluating the victim has to take into consideration the possibility of malice from a physical source intent to induce spiritual, psychological or physical malignancy.


Various types

According to the purpose


Amatory: To favor destroying a relationship of love between two people.

Poisonous: By some physical evil, socially, economically or in personal relationships.

Ligament: To create impediments to the movements or to the relationship of things.

Transference: Transferring: to a person the torments done to a doll or to a photo, etc.

Putrefaction: By inferring deadly evil or inducing a subject material to putrefaction.

Possession: To introduce a diabolic presence in the victim and to indirectly cause possession.

According to the way:

Directly: Contact with the victim through a physical object (for instance, making someone eat or drink something “maleficiato” or “invoiced”).

Indirect: Acting through the finished malefic action on an object that represents the victim (Ex: Curse doll).


According to the operation:

For fracture: With pins, nails, hammer, stung, fire, ice, etc.

For knotting or binding: With drawstrings, knots, bridles, ribbons, bands, etc.

For putrefaction: Burying the object or the animal-symbol after having it “invoiced”

For curse: Directly on the person or on photo, or on a symbol of it.

For destruction with the fire: The practice of burning an object on which the essence of of the victim is transferred (animism), ideally to get, in this, a form of malfice through consumption more so relating to that of “putrefaction” mentioned already in the above.

For satanic rite: A black mass, done for the purpose to harm someone.


According to the means:

With invoices: (Ex: pins, bones of corpses, blood, menstrual blood, animal parts etc).

With objects malefic: (Ex: (gifts) pillows, dolls, clocks, talisman, painting, letter, etc).


Reiki- A Catholic Perspective

Evil Spirits
I don’t believe that most Reiki practitioners set out to deliberately use evil spirits. Many don’t believe in the existence of evil spirits, while those who are practicing Christians believe they have protection from these spirits, simply by invoking the name of Jesus. But not believing in something doesn’t make it cease to exist and being a disciple of Jesus Christ also means being obedient to our Heavenly Father.

New Age practices and beliefs … including Reiki … take us into realms forbidden by God.
– It suggests that we can safely open ourselves to occult powers.
– It holds out the promise of occult knowledge.
– It seeks to manipulate occult forces.
– It claims spirit guides.
– It suggests that we have the power within ourselves to become godlike.
– It contradicts the Christian (and indeed the Jewish and Islamic) concept of God the Father.
– It is happy to deny Jesus Christ and some suggest He was nothing more than a Reiki Master.
– It relegates the Holy Spirit to nothing more than an animating force.
– It denies the need for Redemption and offers a panacea to all the problems caused by sin.
– It uses signs and symbols, as if these have power in themselves.
Let’s look at what the Catholic Catechism has to say on this (italics mine):


2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.
2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary.

To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41
2112 The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of “idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.”


These empty idols make their worshippers empty: “Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.”42 God, however, is the “living God”43 who gives life and intervenes in history.
2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divining what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.”44 Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast”45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.46
2114 Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who “transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God.”47
Divination and magic
God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.


The Catechism is just reiterating what has been revealed in the Bible, concerning the use of occult methods and powers. Put simply, we owe all our allegiance and worship to the one, true God. We are not permitted to call upon occult powers under any circumstance, not even in order to do good. Yet we see that Reiki does precisely this. When, acting in our human spirit, we disobey God, we are sinning, and God will not bless our sins. If we seek other spirits that are not of God (nothing that God sends will prompt disobedience to Him) then we are seeking the help of evil spirits. Period!


But are there really powers and spirits that are not of God?

Are There Really Powers And Spirits That Are Ungodly?

One of the problems of our times is that we have lost any sense of the presence and operation of evil spirits and powers that run contrary to God’s plan, yet this is not what the Bible tells us. There are countless references throughout the Old Testament, to the existence of “unclean” spirits as well as commands to avoid all those who seek to contact them or use their powers.
Do not go to mediums or consult fortune-tellers, for you will be defiled by them. I, the LORD, am your God. (Leviticus 19:31)

The New Testament likewise warns us that there are other spirits at work that are dangerous to us.
Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
St. Paul tells us clearly: ….our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)

Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

Today, even many good Catholics see these things as figments of overly-active imaginations, something belonging to medieval times, yet the Church has recently reiterated and underlined the truth of the existence of demons and their resultant spirits. It has, once again, brought their activity out into the light and seeks to address what is perceived as a growing need for deliverance and, in more serious cases, formal exorcism.

In 1998, Pope John Paul II addressed the role of Jesus as exorcist. According to a Zenit report:

The Pope’s message cast light on a very important, but often neglected ministry: that of the exorcist. This is not the macabre role seen in the movies, but, as the Pope explained, a putting into action of the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the power of the Devil.

Fr. Gabriele Amorth, exorcist for the diocese of Rome, announced several months ago that the role of the exorcist was in crisis. “The reduction of numbers of exorcists is leading many people to seek out ‘wizards,’ Satanic sects, and unscrupulous phonies who simply use others experiencing truly traumatic experiences for their own gain.”

Fr. Amorth pointed out how this phenomenon may indicate that Christians have stopped believing in the “Prince of this world.” The exorcist affirmed that “in the academic preparation of priests, demons have already gone out of existence,” since “for decades this part of dogmatic theology hasn’t been studied in the seminaries and ecclesial universities.” Modern theologians have tried to make the exorcisms in the Bible into mere “cultural language” to symbolize the struggle against evil, using the language of the day.
The Pope
‘s speech comes almost as a response to these statements. He confirmed the Church’s tradition on the matter of exorcism, saying, “The three synoptic Gospels stress how, just after His baptism, Jesus was ‘taken by the Holy Spirit to the desert ‘to be tempted by Satan’.” The Pontiff recalled how Jesus’ work as exorcist lasted throughout His whole life. “With Jesus,” he added, “the Devil lost his power in the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

PetersNet has an interview with Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez* on the topic of exorcism and in 1999, the Church published a document, called “De Exorcismus Et Supplicationibus Quibusdam,” to address current needs and to apply strict guidelines.

*See pages 8 ff. and also

All this should tell the reader that the Church takes very seriously the activity of evil spirits – and so should we, because their hatred of God, hatred of Jesus and jealousy of our relationship with God drives these rebellious and fallen entities to seek nothing other than our total destruction.

Of course, for most of us, this does not mean a direct and obvious onslaught. Most of us would recognise and run a mile from anything that smacked of Satan’s work or looked obviously evil, and so, more often than not, these spirits appear as angels of light, as bearers of good … and for a while they can maintain this illusion. But their aim is not good. Their aim towards us is purely malevolent and, sooner or later, the good they appeared to bring backfires on us.


Spiritual Theology

By Father Jordan Aumann

14. Discernment of Spirits

It is indispensable for the direction of souls and for the study of extraordinary mystical phenomena to be able to distinguish the various spirits under which an individual may act or be acted upon. As used here, the word spirit refers to two different types of motivating factors or powers. The spirit of an individual refers to the internal inclination to good or evil, and it manifests itself with such regularity that it must be considered a personal trait. Thus, if a person has a propensity to prayer, he or she is said to possess the spirit of prayer; if there is a tendency to arguments and altercations, he or she is said to possess a spirit of contradiction, etc. Understood in this sense, the spirit of a person is usually the result of both temperament and character.

But it is also possible for an individual to come under the influence of a spirit that is extrinsic to the personality, whether from God or the devil. For that reason it is the function of the discernment of spirits to judge whether a given act or repetition of acts flows from the spirit of God, the diabolical spirit, or the spirit of the individual.

There are two types of discernment of spirit: acquired and infused. Acquired discernment of spirits is complementary to ordinary spiritual direction and can be cultivated by all who use the proper means. Infused discernment of spirits is a charismatic gift or gratia gratis data, which is granted by God to certain individuals. It is extremely rare, even among the saints, but when it occurs it is infallible because it is the result of an interior movement or inspiration received from the Holy Spirit, who cannot err.

Acquired discernment is absolutely necessary for a spiritual director. St. John of the Cross places great stress on the importance of discernment, pointing out that the priest who presumes to take charge of the direction of souls without such knowledge is guilty of temerity.(1) It is therefore important to examine the various means by which one can acquire the art of discernment of spirits.

1. Prayer. This is the most important and fundamental means, Although we are speaking of an acquired art, personal effort would avail nothing without the special assistance of the Holy Spirit through the virtue of prudence and the gift of counsel. Hence it is not only a question of the constant practice of prayer, but the particular petition by which the director requests of God the prudence necessary for the direction of souls and the light to be able to discern the will of God for some particular soul at a given time. It does not suffice to possess a theoretical knowledge of the spiritual life and the ways to perfection; one needs to know the practical and concrete application of these principles in particular cases. It is certain that God will answer these prayers with special graces that he gives to all rightly disposed souls so that they may fulfill their duties.


2. Study. The spiritual director likewise needs a vast amount of knowledge acquired through study. He should be familiar with the general principles of spiritual theology contained in Sacred Scripture, speculative theology, the masters of the spiritual life, and the lives of the saints. He should be especially careful not to restrict himself to a particular “school” or method of spirituality, but should have a broad and sympathetic understanding of the variety of schools and methods of the spiritual life.

3. Personal experience. Self-knowledge is a basic requirement for any kind of direction of others. While it is true that each person has unique traits and characteristics, there is also a common pattern possessed by all and, unless one understands oneself, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to understand others. Under this same heading we may include that sympathy or rapport that enables the director to place himself in the position and circumstances in which others find themselves, according to the statement of St. Paul: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Moreover, if the spiritual director himself has not attained some degree of virtue and self-mastery, it is not likely that he will be able to understand their condition, especially when they enter upon the higher stages of the spiritual life. Holiness of life is of inestimable value in acquiring the art of discernment of spirits.

4. Removal of obstacles. Under this heading we may place all the defective qualities that are an impediment to the understanding and direction of souls. One of the greatest obstacles is the spirit of self-sufficiency, which prevents the director from seeking the advice of those who are more learned or more experienced than himself. Secondly, the director must avoid at all costs an excessive attachment to the one he is directing, for this attachment will cloud his judgment and cause him to be too sympathetic. He must strive to be as objective as possible and avoid the inclination to judge according to purely human standards. He will never be precipitous in his decisions but will subject them to mature reflection.


Types of Spirits []

Spirits can be summarized under three headings: the divine spirit, the diabolical spirit, and the human spirit. God always inclines us to the good, working either directly or through secondary causes; the devil always inclines us to evil, working by his own power or through the allurements of the things of the world; the human spirit may be inclined to evil or to good, depending upon whether the individual follows right reason or selfish desires.

Due to the basic indifference of many purely natural inclinations, it is evident that they may be used for good and for evil, and while grace does not destroy nature but perfects and supernaturalizes it, the devil utilizes human weakness and the effects of original sin to further his evil aims. Moreover, it may happen that, in one and the same inclination or action, various spirits are intermingled, making it difficult to discern which spirit has the predominance at a given time. The spirit of God and the spirit of the devil cannot be operating at the same time, since they tend to opposite goals, but God can direct or intensify a naturally good inclination, or the devil may divert those inclinations to evil. And even when the divine spirit predominates in a given action, it does not follow that all the antecedent or consequent movements and inclinations are likewise divine and supernatural. It frequently happens that purely human and natural movements introduce themselves, consciously or unconsciously, and cause the action to lose some of its supernatural purity. This is one of the factors making it almost impossible for the director or theologian to discern clearly the divine element in extraordinary mystical phenomena.

Moreover, it is not at all unusual in the lives of mystics that their mystical and truly supernatural operations are interrupted by purely natural activities or that, with God’s permission, a diabolical influence is introduced. It is not easy to determine when the action of God terminates and when the natural or diabolical movement begins. If the director is familiar with the signs of the various spirits, however, he will have sufficient grounds for making a prudent judgment in each case. It will not always be a situation in which one spirit is operating exclusively, but even if there is a mixture of several spirits, one or another will always predominate.


The Divine Spirit

The following characteristics are general signs of the divine spirit.

1. Truth. God is truth and cannot inspire anything but truth in a soul. If a person believed to be inspired by God, therefore, maintains opinions that are manifestly against revealed truth, the infallible teaching of the Church, or proven theology or philosophy or science, it must be concluded that the individual is deluded by the devil or is the victim of excessive imagination or faulty reasoning.

2. Gravity. God is never the cause of things that are useless, futile, frivolous, or impertinent. When his spirit moves a soul it is always for something serious and beneficial.

3. Enlightenment. Although one may not always understand the meaning of an inspiration from God, the effect of any divine movement or impulse is always enlightenment and certitude rather than darkness and confusion. This is true both for the effects on the individual who receives the inspiration and its effects on others.



4. Docility. Souls that are moved by the spirit of God accept cheerfully the advice and counsel of their directors or others who have authority over them. This spirit of obedience, docility, and submission is one of the clearest signs that a particular inspiration or movement is from God. This is especially true in the case of the educated, who have a greater tendency to be attached to their own opinions.

5. Discretion. The spirit of God makes the soul discreet, prudent, and thoughtful in all its actions. There is nothing of precipitation, lightness, exaggeration, or impetuosity; all is well balanced, edifying, serious, and full of calmness and peace.

6. Humility. The Holy Spirit always fills the soul with sentiments of humility and self-effacement. The loftier the communications from on high, the more profoundly the soul inclines to the abyss of its own nothingness. Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say” (Luke 1:38).

7. Peace. St. Paul speaks frequently of the peace that comes from God (Romans 15:33, Philippians 4:9), and Jesus mentions peace as one of the manifestations of his spirit (John 14:27). This is a quality that always accompanies communications from God; the soul experiences a profound and stable serenity in the depths of its spirit.

8. Confidence in God. This is a counterpart and necessary consequence of true humility. Recognizing that of itself it can do nothing, as St. Paul says, the soul throws itself on the power and mercy of God with a childlike trust. Then it learns that it can do all things in him (Philippians 4:13).

9. Flexibility of will. This sign consists primarily in a certain promptness of the will to subject itself to the inspirations and invitations of God. Secondarily it consists in a facility in following the advice and counsel of others, especially if they are superiors, confessors, or spiritual directors. It is opposed to the rigid and unyielding will that is characteristic of those who are filled with self-love.

10. Purity of intention. The soul seeks only the glory of God in all that it does and the perfect fulfillment of the will of God, without human interest or motivation out of self-love.

11. Patience in suffering. Suffering is frequently the best touchstone for revealing the true worth of an individual. No matter what the source of the suffering, or whether it is justly received or not, the soul bears it with patience and equanimity and uses it as a means of further perfection.

12. Self-abnegation. The words of Christ himself are sufficient evidence that this is a sign of the spirit of God: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

13. Simplicity. Together with veracity and sincerity, this characteristic is never lacking in those who are truly motivated by the spirit of God. Any duplicity, arrogance, hypocrisy, or vanity must be attributed rather to the spirit of the devil, the father of lies.

14. Liberty of spirit. First of all, there is no attachment to any created thing, not even to, the gifts received from God. Second, all is accepted from the hands of God with gratitude and humility, whether it be a question of consolation or trial. Third, while all duties and spiritual exercises are performed with promptness and punctuality, the soul is ready to leave even the most consoling and profitable exercise as soon as the charity of God calls it elsewhere. Liberty of spirit enables the soul to live in a state of constant joy and eagerness for the things of God.

15. Desire to imitate Christ. St. Paul says that it is impossible to have the spirit of God without having the spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). For that reason St. John of the Cross states that the soul that aspires to perfection must have a desire to imitate Christ in all things by conforming its life as much as possible to his.

16. Disinterested love. We mean by this kind of love all the characteristics St. Paul attributes to true charity (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).


The Diabolical Spirit

Normally diabolical influence on the individual Christian is restricted to simple temptation, although it is not likely that the majority of temptations proceed from the immediate and direct intervention of the devil. At other times, with God’s permission, the devil may concentrate his power on an individual by means of diabolical obsession or diabolical possession.


Diabolical Obsession

Obsession occurs whenever the devil torments a person from without and in a manner that is so intense that there can be no doubt about his presence and his action. In simple temptation the diabolical action is not so evident; absolutely speaking, it could be due to other causes. But in true and authentic obsession, the presence and activity of Satan are so clear and unequivocal that neither the soul nor the director can have the least doubt of it. The soul is aware of its own vital activity and government of its faculties, but it is at the same time clearly aware of the external activity of Satan, who tries to exert violence on the individual.

Obsession can affect the interior faculties, especially the imagination, or the external senses in various manners and degrees.


The attack on the imagination differs from ordinary temptation only by reason of its violence and duration. Although it is difficult to determine exactly where simple temptation ends and true obsession begins, we can say that when the disturbance of the soul is so profound and the tendency to evil is so violent that the only possible explanation lies in some external force (even when there is nothing evident externally), it is certainly a case of diabolical obsession. It can take many different forms.

Sometimes it is manifested as a fixed idea that absorbs all the energies of the soul; at other times the images and representations are so vivid that the subject feel’s that he or she is dealing with concrete reality. Again, it may refer to one’s duties and obligations, toward which one feels an almost insuperable repugnance, or it may be manifested by a vehement desire for something one is obliged to avoid.

This seizure has repercussions in the emotional life because of the intimate relation between the emotions and the cognitive faculties. The soul, even in spite of itself, finds itself filled with obsessive images that arouse doubt, resentment, anger, antipathy, hatred, despair, or dangerous tenderness and an inclination to sensuality. The best remedy against such assaults is prayer, accompanied by true humility, self-disdain, confidence in God, the protection of Mary, the use of the sacramentals, and obedience to one’s director, from whom none of these things should be hidden.

Bodily obsession is usually more spectacular, but in reality it is less dangerous than internal obsession, although the two normally occur together. External obsession can affect any of the external senses, and there are numerous examples of this in the lives of the saints. The eye is filled with diabolical apparitions. Sometimes they are very pleasant, as when Satan transforms himself into an angel of light to deceive the soul and fill it with sentiments of vanity, self-complacence, etc. By these and similar effects the soul will recognize the presence of the enemy. At other times Satan may appear in horrible and frightening forms in order to terrify the servants of God and to withdraw them from the practice of virtue, as one can discover in the lives of numerous saints. Or the devil may present himself in a voluptuous, form in order to tempt souls to evil.

Other senses besides sight are also affected. The ear is tormented with frightful sounds and shouts, with blasphemy and obscenities, or with voluptuous songs and music to arouse sensuality. The sense of smell sometimes perceives the most pleasant odors or an unbearable stench. The sense of taste is affected in various ways. Sometimes the devil arouses feelings of gluttony by producing a sensation of the most delicious food or most exquisite liquors the individual has never actually tasted. But usually he arouses a most bitter taste in the food that is taken, or he mixes repulsive objects with the food so that it would be dangerous or impossible to swallow or to digest.

Finally, the sense of touch, which is diffused throughout the whole body, can be subjected in countless ways to the influence of the devil. Sometimes there are terrible blows upon the body; at other times there are sensations of voluptuous embraces or caresses; or God may permit that his servant be tested by extreme experiences of sensuality, without any consent on the part of the one who suffers these things. Obsession may be due to any one of the following causes:

1. The permission of God, who wishes thereby to test the virtue of a soul and to increase its merits. In this sense it is equivalent to a passive trial or a mystical night of the soul.

2. The envy and pride of the devil, who cannot bear the sight of a soul that is trying to sanctify itself and to glorify God to the best of its ability, thereby leading a great number of other souls to salvation or perfection.

3. The natural predisposition of the person obsessed, which gives the devil an occasion to attack the individual at his weakest point. This reason is of no value in regard to external obsession, which has; nothing to do with the temperament or natural predispositions of the obsessed, but it is valid for internal obsession, which finds a fertile soil in a melancholy temperament or in one inclined to scruples, anxiety, or sadness. Nevertheless, however violent the obsession, it never deprives the subject of liberty, and with the grace of God he or she can always overcome it and even derive benefit from it. It is only for this reason that God permits it.

One needs much discretion and perspicacity to distinguish true obsession from the various kinds of nervous illnesses and mental unbalances that are very similar to it. It would be foolish to deny the reality of diabolical action in the world, especially sine it is expressly mentioned in the sources of revelation and has been proved countless times by the experiences of many saints. In modem times there has been a tendency to exaggerate the purely natural causes of all phenomena, and perhaps the greatest victory of the devil is that he has succeeded in destroying the belief in his terrible power. On the other hand, many apparently diabolical phenomena are due to natural causes, and it is a fundamental principle advocated by the Church that one may not attribute to the preternatural order anything that can probably be explained by purely natural causes.


The director will proceed prudently by bearing in mind the following observations and guidelines:

1. Obsession usually occurs only in souls that are far advanced in virtue. As regards ordinary souls, the devil is content to persecute them with simple temptations. Therefore, the director should first investigate the type of soul with which he is dealing, and in this way he will be able to conjecture as to the diabolical or purely natural origin of the apparent obsession.


2. It is important to investigate carefully whether one is dealing with a soul that is normal, balanced, of sound judgment, and an enemy of any kind of exaggeration or sentimentality; or whether, on the contrary, one is dealing with a disquieted, unbalanced, weak spirit, with a history of hysteria, tormented by scruples, or depressed by reason of an inferiority complex. This rule is of exceptional importance, and very often it is the decisive rule for making a judgment. It will be very difficult to differentiate between the manifestations of diabolical influence and those that follow from a nervous disorder; but, it is possible to do so. The director should not yield to the temptation of oversimplifying the matter by attributing everything to one cause or the other. He should give to the patient the moral counsels and rules that pertain to his office as a director of souls and then refer the individual to a trustworthy psychiatrist, who can treat the other manifestations that proceed from a mental disorder.

3. The authentic manifestations of true diabolical obsession will be sufficiently clear if they are revealed by visible signs such as the moving of an object by an invisible hand, the marks of bruises or wounds that proceed from an invisible attack. These effects cannot be attributed to any purely natural cause, and when the person who suffers them gives all the signs of equanimity, self-possession, sincerity, and true virtue, the director can be certain that he is dealing with a case of obsession. We have already said that the devil does not usually obsess the ordinary soul; nevertheless, God sometimes permits diabolical obsession in these souls or even in hardened sinners, as a salutary expiation for their sins or to give them a vivid idea of the horrors of hell and the necessity of abandoning sin to be freed from the slavery of the devil. But ordinarily only souls of advanced virtue suffer the obsessive attacks of the devil.

4. Once it has been proved that one is dealing with a case of diabolical obsession, the director should proceed with the greatest possible patience and tenderness. The tormented soul needs the assistance and advice of someone to whom it can give its complete confidence and one who will in turn speak to the soul in the name of God. The director’s principal concern should be to encourage the soul and make it understand that the attacks of hell are futile so long as the soul places all its confidence in God and does not lose its interior serenity. He will remind the soul that God is with it and will help it conquer: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Also, at the side of the suffering soul is Mary, our tender Mother, as well as the guardian angel, whose power is greater than that of the devil. The director will advise the soul never to lose its tranquility, to hold the devil in utter disdain, to fortify himself or herself with the sign of the cross and with other sacramentals, especially holy water, which has great efficacy against the attacks of the devil. Above all, he will warn the soul never to do anything that the devil suggests, even if it appears good and reasonable. He will demand a detailed account of everything that happens and will never permit the soul to conceal anything, however difficult and painful it may be to reveal it. Finally, he will try to make the soul understand that God can use the devil as an instrument for purifying the soul and that the best way of cooperating with the divine plan is to abandon oneself entirely to God’s holy will, ready to accept anything that God may decree, and asking’ the grace of never yielding to the violence of the temptations.

5. In more serious and persistent cases, the exorcisms prescribed in the Roman Ritual are used, or other formulas approved by the Church are put into effect. But the director will always do this in private and even without advising the penitent that he is going to exorcise him or her, especially if he fears that this knowledge would cause a great disturbance to the soul. For a solemn exorcism it is necessary to obtain express permission from the local ordinary and to follow the prescribed precautions.


Diabolical Possession

Diabolical possession is a phenomenon in which the devil invades the body of a living person and moves the faculties and organs as if he were manipulating a body of his own. The devil truly resides within the body of the unfortunate victim, and he operates in it and treats it as his own property. Those who suffer this despotic invasion are said to be possessed.

However it may be manifested, the presence of the devil is restricted exclusively to the body. The soul remains free, even if the exercise of conscious life is suspended. Only God has the privilege of penetrating into the essence of the soul. Nevertheless, the primary purpose of the violence of the devil is to disturb the soul and to draw it to sin. But the soul always remains master of itself, and if it is faithful to the grace of God, it will find an inviolable sanctuary in its free will.

Two periods can be distinguished in diabolical possession: the period of crisis and the period of calm. The periods of crisis are manifested by the violent onslaught of evil, and its very violence prevents it from being continual or even very prolonged. It is the moment in which the devil openly reveals himself by acts, words, convulsions, seizures of anger or impiety, obscenity, or blasphemy. In the majority of cases, the victims lose consciousness of what is happening to them during this seizure, as happens in the great crises of certain mental disorders. When they regain consciousness they have no recollection of what they have said or done or, rather, of what the devil has said or done in them.


Sometimes they perceive something of the diabolical spirit at the beginning of the seizure when he begins to use their faculties or organs. In certain cases the spirit of the possessed remains free and conscious during the crisis and witnesses with astonishment and horror the despotic usurpation of its body by the devil.

In the periods of calm there is nothing to manifest the presence of the devil in the body of the possessed. One would think that the devil had gone. Nevertheless, his presence is often manifested by some strange chronic illness that exceeds the categories of pathological disorders known to medical science and resists every form of therapeutic remedy. Moreover, diabolical possession is not always continuous, and the devil may leave for a time and then return later to continue his possession. The devil can come and go as he pleases, so long as he has God’s permission to take possession of the person.

Lest we expose ourselves to derision, it is necessary to be extremely cautious and prudent in making pronouncements concerning diabolical possession. There are countless nervous disorders presenting external symptoms very similar to those of possession, and there are also some poor unbalanced souls or perverse spirits that have a remarkable facility for simulating the horrors of possession. Fortunately, the Church has given us wise rules for discerning fraud and for making judgments that are certain. The first thing to be recognized is that authentic cases of obsession are very rare, and it is much better to make a mistake on the side of incredulity than to be too anxious to admit diabolical possession. The extreme agitation of the victim, the blasphemies that are uttered, the horror manifested for holy things-none of these are of themselves sufficient proof. These symptoms give nothing more than a conjecture of the possibility of diabolical possession, but they are never infallible signs because they could proceed from malice or from some natural cause.


Remedies for Possession

The Roman Ritual, after recommending prudence and discretion before making a judgment, indicates certain signs that allow for a diagnosis to ascertain the authenticity of diabolical possession: speaking in a, strange and unknown language or understanding perfectly one who speaks in an unknown language; perceiving hidden or distant things; manifesting strength beyond one’s age and condition. There are other similar symptoms, and the more numerous they are the greater proof they offer of a true diabolical possession.

Ordinarily, possession occurs only in sinners and precisely as a punishment for sin. There are exceptions, however, when diabolical possession is used by God as a means of purification.

Whatever will weaken the power of the devil over a person can be utilized as a remedy against diabolical possession, but the Roman Ritual specifies certain principal remedies:

Sacramental confession. Since the usual purpose of diabolical possession is punishment for sin, it is necessary above all to remove the cause of possession by a humble and sincere confession; it will have a special efficacy if it is a general confession of one’s whole life, because of the humiliation and renewal of soul it presupposes.

Holy Communion. The Roman Ritual recommends frequent Communion under the direction and advice of a priest. Holy Communion, however, should not be given to a possessed person except in moments of calm, and one must also take great care to avoid any danger of irreverence or profanation, as the Ritual prescribes.

Fasting and prayer. A certain type of devil cannot be cast out except through fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:20). Humble, and persevering prayer, accompanied by fasting and mortification, obtains from heaven the grace of a cure. This particular remedy should, never be omitted, even when all the others are used.

The sacramentals. Objects blessed by the prayers of the Church have a special power against the devil. Holy water has particular efficacy, as has been verified on countless occasions.

The cross. The Ritual prescribes that the exorcist should have a crucifix in his hand or before his eyes. It has been verified many times that the devil will flee merely at the sight of a crucifix. The sign of the cross has always been used by Christians as a safeguard against the devil, and the Church makes special use of it in the rite of exorcism.

Relics of the saints. The Roman Ritual also recommends the use of relics in the rite of exorcism. The most precious and venerated of all relics, and those that inspire the greatest horror in the demons, are the particles of the true Cross because they remind the demons of the definitive victory that Christ won over them on Calvary.

The holy names of Jesus and Mary. The name of Jesus has a sovereign power to put the devil to flight. He himself promised in the Gospel: “They will use my name to expel demons” (Mark 16:17). The apostles used the Holy Name in this respect: ” ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you, come out of her!” Then and there the spirit left her” (Acts 16:18).

The name of Mary is also terrifying to the devils. The examples of its salutary efficacy are innumerable and fully justify the practice of Christian piety that sees in the invocation of the name of Mary a powerful remedy against the attacks of the devil.

In addition to these remedies, which any Christian can use against the power of the devil, the Church has instituted other official means whose use is reserved to her ministers. These are the various exorcisms.



In private any priest may use the rite of exorcism, but for solemn exorcism it is necessary to verify with certainty the reality of diabolical possession and then obtain the express permission of the bishop for the exorcism. In addition, the exorcist should prepare himself carefully by means of sacramental confession, fasting, and prayer, and then perform the rite in a church or chapel (and only in exceptional circumstances in a private home), in the company of serious and pious witnesses (but only a few), and with sufficient assistants who will be able to control the patient in moments of crisis. The interrogations should be made with authority, but they should be few in number, as is indicated in the Roman Ritual. The witnesses will observe silence and remain in prayer but should never interrogate the devil. The sessions should be repeated as often as is necessary until the devil is cast out. Once this has taken place and the liberation of the patient is verified, the exorcist should petition God to command the devil never again to enter the body he has just left. The exorcist should give thanks to God and exhort the liberated patient to bless God and carefully to avoid sin lest he or she fall again under the domination of the devil.

A person may also come under the power of the devil by reason of the habitual practice of evil or the uncontrolled desire to experience extraordinary mystical phenomena or receive charismatic graces. In the first case a confessor may, unknown to the penitent, apply an abbreviated form of exorcism when giving absolution to habitual sinners. In the second case it is necessary to exercise discernment of spirits when the person claims to have received some special grace or favor from God.


Signs of the Diabolical Spirit

We have already enumerated the signs of the divine spirit, but since the devil may disguise himself as a good spirit and even cause what appears to be authentic mystical phenomena, it is helpful to mention briefly the various signs of the diabolical spirit.

1. Spirit of falsity. The devil is the father of lies, but he cleverly conceals his deceit by half-truths and pseudo-mystical phenomena.
2. Morbid curiosity. This is characteristic of those who eagerly seek out the esoteric aspects of mystical phenomena or have a fascination for the occult or preternatural.
3. Confusion, anxiety, and deep depression.
4. Obstinacy. One of the surest signs of a diabolical spirit.
5. Constant indiscretion and a restless spirit. Those who constantly go to extremes, as in penitential exercises or apostolic activity; or neglect their primary obligations to do some personally chosen work.
6. Spirit of pride and vanity. Very anxious to publicize their gifts of grace and mystical experiences.
7. False humility. This is the disguise for their pride and self-love.
8. Despair, lack of confidence, and discouragement. A chronic characteristic that alternates with presumption, vain security, and un-‘ founded optimism.
9. Disobedience and hardness of heart.
10. Impatience in suffering and stubborn resentment.
11. Uncontrolled passions and strong inclination to sensuality, usually under the guise of mystical union.
12. Hypocrisy, simulation, and duplicity.
13. Excessive attachment to sensible consolations, particularly in their practice of prayer.
14. Lack of deep devotion to Jesus and Mary.
15. Scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law and fanatical zeal in promoting a cause. This characteristic readily opens the door to diabolical influence in reformers and demagogues.

Once the spiritual director is certain that a person is acting under the influence of a diabolical spirit, he should: (1) make the individual realize that he or she is a toy of the devil and must resist his influence; (2) encourage the individual to pray to God for the grace to overcome the devil; (3) advise the person to act quickly and with disdain for the devil as soon as the influence is perceived, performing the opposite from what is suggested or felt.


The Human Spirit

The signs of a purely human spirit have been described by Thomas à Kempis in Book 3, Chapter 54 of The Imitation of Christ. His words should be pondered carefully, for he explains the struggle between grace and the human spirit, wounded by sin and strongly inclined to self-love.

The human spirit is always inclined to its own satisfactions; it is a friend of pleasure and an enemy of suffering of any kind. It readily inclines to anything that is compatible with its own temperament, its personal tastes and caprices, or the satisfaction of self-love. It will not hear of humiliations, penance, renunciation, or mortification. If any director or confessor goes against its inclinations, he is immediately branded as inept and incompetent. Ít seeks success, honors, applause, and pastimes. It is always a great promoter of anything that will arouse admiration or notoriety. In a word, the human spirit neither understands nor cares for anything except its own egoism.


It is sometimes difficult in practice to judge whether given manifestations proceed from the devil or from a purely human and egoistic spirit, but it is always relatively easy to distinguish between these two and the spirit of God. It will be possible in most cases, therefore, to determine that a given spirit could not possibly be from God and that it must be combated, even if one is not sure whether it is in fact from the devil or the human, ego.

The following contrasts may serve as general rules for distinguishing between the diabolical and the human spirit. Natural impulses and inclinations are spontaneous; they can usually be traced to some natural cause or disposition; the stimulation of the senses acts upon, the interior powers, and they often persist in spite of prayer. Diabolical impulse or suggestion, on the other hand, is usually violent and difficult to prevent; it arises unexpectedly or with the slightest provocation; a mental suggestion excites the senses and disappears as a rule with prayer. Self-denial and rectitude of intention are excellent remedies against the spirit of egoism.

In this respect the spiritual director and confessor will do well to keep in mind the general rule for discernment of spirits: if there is a possible natural or diabolical explanation for a given phenomenon, it cannot be presumed that it is supernatural in origin. The following are the principal doubtful reasons or situations:

1. To aspire to some other state in life after having made a prudent and deliberate selection for the existing state.

2. To be attracted to rare phenomena or to singular exercises not proper to one’s state in life. When God desires such things he will give unmistakable proof of his will; the test is obedience and humility.

3. An inclination to practice extreme corporal penances. God has demanded them of some souls, but this practice is not in the workings of ordinary providence.

4. A desire for sensible consolations in the practice of prayer or the exercise of the virtues.

5. The “gift of tears” or the strong inclination to concentrate on the sorrowful and penitential aspects of religion.

6. Exclusive devotion to some particular mystery or pious exercise, which easily leads to a distortion of orthodox theology.

7. Extraordinary favors, such as revelations, visions, stigmata, when they occur in a person of little sanctity. The extraordinary graces do not necessarily presuppose sanctity or even the state of grace, but God does not ordinarily grant these gifts except to his servants and friends.

By way of conclusion, we again warn directors and confessors to proceed with great caution in making judgments in matters involving the discernment of spirits. It is easy to make a mistake. In cases of extraordinary phenomena, it should be noted that, as a rule, when these things proceed from God, the soul first experiences great fear and humility and then peace and consolation. If these things come from the devil they often begin with feelings of sensible consolation and satisfaction, but later they cause confusion, anxiety, and restlessness.

Lastly, apropos of the inclination some persons experience to change their state of life (and usually to go to a higher and stricter form of life), the director will bear in mind that it is quite possible that a grace is given by God but without God’s wanting the person actually to change one’s state in life.

For example, a priest who is actively engaged in the apostolate may experience a strong desire to spend more time in prayer and solitude. In trying to understand the reason for this strong inclination, he may erroneously judge that it is God’s will that he enter the Carthusians or the Trappists. Such is not necessarily the case, however, for it may be that the only thing that God is asking of the priest is that he be less involved in the whirlpool of activity and that he dedicate more time each day to prayer and recollection.

We would state the following as a general rule for the solution of such cases: if an individual has prayerfully and seriously selected the state of life in which he or she is, then he or she must present a serious positive cause for changing this state of life. Otherwise, the will of God is the present state of life. Another practical test is to see whether the individual is performing the duties of the present state in life with all fidelity; if not, the person should not even think of changing to another state.


Psychosomatic Phenomena []

The foregoing discussion on the divine spirit, the diabolical spirit, and the human spirit serves as a logical introduction to the study of extraordinary phenomena. Any phenomenon of religious experience must be attributed to one of those three causes – God, the devil, or some natural power. There is no other possible explanation.

Natural Causes of Extraordinary Phenomena

The naturally caused phenomena comprise all those mysterious and paranormal happenings for which we do not as yet have a complete scientific explanation, but there is substantial evidence that they lie within the power of nature (e.g., telepathy, extrasensory perception, and certain phenomena of spiritualism). This subject belongs to the field of parapsychology.



However, in mystical theology we also have to deal with phenomena that have all the appearances of authentic mystical phenomena but are really natural in origin or blended somehow with the supernatural. We do not know with certainty all that nature is capable of producing, but we can know what nature could never possibly do. In other words, we have as our basic norm the principle of contradiction, which often leaves us with nothing more certain by way of conclusion than mere possibility or evident impossibility. In any event, the following rule must be followed most strictly: one may not definitely attribute to a supernatural cause that which could possibly have a natural (or diabolical) explanation. Thus two extremes will be avoided, namely, to see the supernatural or miraculous in every unusual phenomenon or to refuse to recognize anything but the natural in any kind of phenomenon.

The natural causes may be grouped under the following general headings: physiological or constitutional factors, imagination, depressive states, and illnesses, especially mental and nervous disorders.

We should recall the teaching of psychology concerning the intimate relationship and mutual interaction between the soul and the body. Ideas, judgments, volitions can cause profound transformations in a person’s somatic structure, for good or evil; the health or sickness of the body can in turn facilitate or obstruct the operations of the spiritual faculties. Moreover, the somatic structure, since it is organic, is so necessitated in its functions that it can react in only a limited number of ways. That is the basic reason why it is so difficult to determine whether a particular unusual phenomenon is supernatural or natural in origin (we might say, natural but paranormal). It is also the reason why the theologian, doctor, psychiatrist, or spiritual director must in each instance make a careful and exact examination of the constitutional factors of the individual.


The following physiological elements are of special importance in this examination:

1. Temperament. Of the four basic temperaments, the melancholic temperament is most prone to illusion in mystical matters. By nature such persons tend to extreme introversion and extravagances of the imagination. Their excessive detachment from their surroundings could easily lead to something similar to ecstasy, and their vivid imaginations could produce what would appear to be supernatural revelations and visions.

The choleric temperament, which is extremely impressionable, may give rise to the same illusions. A sudden and intense stimulation will sometimes cause a kind of hysteria in which the imagination runs riot, and the sense of judgment is completely unbalanced.

Since persons of sanguine temperament are inclined to sensate pleasure and bodily satisfactions, they will more readily be deceived regarding mystical phenomena of the affective order. It is not, difficult to see how such persons would be prone to imagine that they are experiencing mystical touches, divine caresses, or consoling visions and revelations when in a state of religious fervor.

But we must beware of exaggeration in the judgment of such individuals, for although the director will be cautious in dealing with these temperaments, he would be mistaken to conclude that no person of these temperaments could ever experience truly mystical phenomena.

2. Sexual differences. Women in general are more easily subject to illusion in mystical matters because their psychological structure pre-disposes them to a greater interest in religion, the practice of piety, and ardent love. Their somatic structure makes them more passive than active and more sensitive to psychic love and tender feelings. They go to God more easily, but at the same time they can be inconstant, highly imaginative, and sentimental. St. Teresa of Avila has some sound advice on this point. (2)

On the other hand, it must be admitted that in the history of spirituality the women have far outnumbered the men in the reception of extraordinary mystical phenomena, and we would have to admit that the weaker sex is also the more devout sex, because women generally are vastly superior to men in their abnegation and generosity in the service of God.

The imagination is one of our most beneficial faculties, and it can also be one of the most harmful. It has the power of evoking past phantasms, of creating new images, of exerting a tremendous influence on the intellect and the will. If it escapes from the control of the will, it can be as capricious as the pages of a book that are left to the mercy of the wind.

It is evident that the imagination is often the source of many illusions in the spiritual life. It is not that the imagination as such is in error, for in performing its function of recalling or creating phantasms it does not of itself have the power to say whether the particular phantasms truly exist in the order of reality or are purely fictitious and artificial. The error comes from the judgment of the individual who takes as true that which is merely a phantasy.

In order that spiritual directors may have a handy guide for discernment, they would do well to bear in mind the following principles:

1. The imagination does not create images in the proper sense of the word. It is limited to the recall or arrangement of phantasms already received, and it can contain nothing that was not received from the exterior world of reality. Thus if we encounter a person who spontaneously speaks or reads or writes a language with which he has never had any contact whatever, this feat could not possibly be the result of imagination.


We are in the presence of a phenomenon surpassing the natural powers of the imagination; the cause, therefore, must be either supernatural or preternatural.

2. The imagination cannot surpass the laws of nature. Instantaneous cures of organic lesions, fractures, and mutilations cannot in any way be attributed to the imagination. If the cure cannot possibly be explained by the laws of nature, there must be a superior cause at work.


The generic title, depressive states, covers a number of natural causes that may lead to illusion in the spiritual life. Sadness is one of the greatest enemies of the human spirit, both in the natural and the supernatural orders. It makes the individual excessively introspective, self-centered, and anxious. This may easily lead to all sorts of illusions, regarding either mystical phenomena or one’s associations with others. Since we are concerned only with mystical phenomena, we shall enumerate the three chief causes of depressive states of spirit in this connection:

1. Excessive intellectual labor sometimes causes such a detachment from exterior things that a kind of alienation of spirit results. The remarkable detachment and absorption of scientists, artists, and professors are the result of their intense concentration on the matter at hand. If the suspension of the external powers or the alienation from one’s surroundings can be explained naturally, therefore, it may never be identified as a case of mystical alienation or rapture.

2. Badly regulated mental prayer may also produce certain effects similar to those experienced by the great contemplative mystics. If the mental prayer is intense and prolonged, the truths of meditation may become so vivid that one takes them for realities of the sensible order, celestial visions, diabolical manifestations. Likewise, intense and exclusive meditation on the Passion could cause sympathetic pains.

3. Excessive austerities, which lead to exhaustion of the body and a weakening of the sensitive faculties, may produce all kinds of illusions that are mistakenly attributed to a supernatural cause. Long periods of fasting or corporal penances carried to extremes will so sharpen the activity of the imagination and the memory that the individual readily reaches a point at which the world of dreams and illusions is taken for reality. Moderate fasting is a boon to the functioning of the imagination and memory and the activity of the intellect, but once the body and its organic powers have been weakened, the sense faculties of cognition escape from the control of reason and cast the individual into the world of dream images.

Illnesses of certain kinds are also predispositions to illusion in mystical matters, and it is often an area of dispute between doctors and theologians when what has been taken as a truly mystical phenomenon is declared to be the consequence of some bodily or mental illness. Both doctors and theologians should remember that, whereas the external manifestations of nervous and mental illnesses and those of true mystical phenomena may be identical, the causes are utterly distinct, although sometime there may be a strange and perplexing admixture of the two. Consequently, the most that can be relied upon as a rule of discernment in many cases is to judge by the fruits or effects.

Admittedly, it is no easy matter to say whether some of the saints at any time in their lives manifested the symptoms of some kind of illness. Neither is it derogatory of the sanctity of an individual to admit that some of the manifestations of neurosis, psychosis, or diabolism cannot be distinguished from extraordinary mystical phenomena. But the similarity of the external manifestations does not suffice as a basis for concluding that the manifestations in question proceed from the same cause, no more than the external act of virtue authorizes us to conclude that the person in question truly possesses the virtue.

The theologian, physician, and psychiatrist, therefore, will do well to proceed with all caution in these matters and to assist one another with information from their respective fields. It is just as unfounded for the theologian to think that his theological knowledge alone will enable him to discern spirits as it is for the physician or psychiatrist to deny the possibility of supernatural influence in human affairs.


Diabolical Causes of Extraordinary Phenomena

The study of the preternatural is so vast and complicated that a thorough treatment of the subject would take us far beyond the scope of the present work. We shall content ourselves with an enumeration of the main points of theological doctrine concerning diabolical influence.

1. It is de fide that devils exist, that is, a number of angels who were created good by God became evil through their own sin.

2. With God’s permission the devils can exercise an evil influence over us, even to the extent of invading and tormenting us in a bodily manner.

3. In the midst of the assaults of the devil, the human will always remains free because the will can be moved only in two ways: by the individual or by God. The most that any other extrinsic power can do is to persuade, and this is what the devils do.

4. The angels and devils can act upon the imagination and other internal and external senses because these are all organic powers, and the devil has power to exercise his influence on anything material.


5. The devils cannot work true miracles because by definition a miracle surpasses the power of all created nature. But since the angelic powers far surpass human powers, the devils can perform prodigious feats that arouse our admiration.

By reason of some contradiction involved or because they surpass the power of an angelic being, the devils cannot do the following:

1. Produce any kind of truly supernatural phenomenon because the supernatural by definition exceeds all natural created powers.

2. Create a substance because creation requires an infinite power, and no creature of any kind can be used even as an instrument of creation.

3. Raise a dead person to life, although they could produce the illusion of doing so.

4. Instantaneously cure wounds, fractures, lesions, etc., because this is something only the Creator can do.

5. Make truly prophetic predictions, since the devil does not by his own powers of intelligence know future contingencies, although he knows so many things in their causes that it may appear to human beings that what was predicted was a true prophecy.

6. Know the secrets of a person’s mind and heart, since the devil does not by his own power have access to the human intellect and will. Because of his superior intelligence, however, he can conjecture much more easily and can know the temperament and character of individuals as well as the numerous circumstances of their life.

7. Produce in human beings extraordinary phenomena of the purely intellectual or volitional type because he does not have free access to the human intellect and will.

These are the principal things the devils are unable to do, and they should be kept in mind when evaluating mystical phenomena involving the miraculous, or the activity of the human intellect and will. The following mystical phenomena, however, can be falsified by the devil.


With God’s permission the devil can do any of the following:

1. Produce corporeal or imaginative visions (but not intellectual visions).

2. Falsify ecstasy.

3. Produce rays of light in the body and sensible heat. (There have been examples of “diabolical incandescence.”)

4. Cause sensible consolations and tenderness.

5. Instantaneously cure sicknesses that have been caused by diabolical influence.

6. Produce the stigmata and all other kinds of bodily extraordinary phenomena, and any phenomena dealing with physical objects, such as crowns, rings, etc.

7. Simulate miracles and the phenomena of levitation, bilocation, and compenetration of bodies.

8. Cause persons or objects to disappear from sight by placing an obstacle in the line of vision or acting directly on the sense of sight; simulate locutions by means of sound waves or immediate action on the sense of hearing; cause a person to speak in tongues.

9. Produce bodily incombustibility by interposing some medium between the fire and the body of the individual.

To summarize: all phenomena resulting from the activity of any natural power or physical law, even if the human being if unable to produce them, can be produced by diabolical power, with God’s permission. Whatever the activity of diabolical powers, however, it can never be essentially supernatural.


God as the Cause of Extraordinary Phenomena

Since the mystical state is essentially constituted by the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and since God is the primary mover in the operation of the gifts, it follows that all truly mystical phenomena must be attributed to God. But the identification of such extraordinary mystical phenomena becomes exceedingly difficult when we consider that the human organism may present identically the same external manifestations as a result of natural or diabolical causes. The reason for this, as we have already stated, is that the psychosomatic structure can react in only a set number of ways, and for that reason the phenomena themselves are not always sure indications of their origin. The most general principle that can be used is that any phenomenon that does not violate any moral law or involve a contradiction could possibly have God as its cause. It frequently happens, therefore, that the most that can -be concluded about a given phenomenon is the mere possibility of a truly supernatural cause, and if one arrives only at a possibility, one cannot conclude with certainty that the phenomenon is to be attributed to God.

The phenomena of the spiritual life comprise (1) those internal and external manifestations of religious experience that proceed from an authentic mystical experience (concomitant phenomena) and (2) those extraordinary graces, usually graces gratis datae, that are not essentially related to the mystical state and Christian holiness (charismatic graces, epiphenomena, or simply extraordinary graces).

Graces “Gratis Datae.” In his first letter to the Corinthians (12:4-6), St. Paul states that there are diverse gifts of God, but that God is one in himself.


All that we have received in both the natural and the supernatural order we have received from God, so that we could speak of all these things as graces gratis datae. But theologians reserve the term graces gratis datae for a special type of graces called charisms. Unlike the grace gratum faciens (habitual or actual graces) a grace gratis data has as its immediate purpose not the sanctification of the one who receives it, but the spiritual benefit of others. It is called gratis data not only because it is above the natural power of man but also because it is something outside the realm of personal merit. With this distinction in mind, we may list the following conclusions regarding the graces gratis datae:

1. The graces gratis datae do not form part of the supernatural organism of the Christian life as do sanctifying grace and the infused virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, nor can they be classified under actual grace.

2. They are what we may call “epiphenomen” of the life of grace and may even be granted to one who lacks sanctifying grace.

3. They are not and cannot be the object of merit, but are strictly gratuitous.

4. Since they do not form part of the supernatural organism, they are not contained in the virtualities of sanctifying grace, and hence the normal development of the life of grace could never produce or demand them.

5. The graces gratis datae require in each instance the direct intervention of God.

From these conclusions concerning the nature of the graces gratis datae we can formulate the following norms to serve as a guide for the spiritual director:


1. It would be temerarious in the normal course of events to desire or to ask God for graces gratis datae or charisms. They are not necessary for salvation nor for sanctification, and they require the direct intervention of God. Far more precious is an act of love than a charismatic gift.

2. In the event that God does grant a grace gratis datae, it is not a proof that a person is in the state of grace; much less can the gratuitous grace be taken as a sign that the individual is holy.

3. The graces gratis datae do not sanctify those who receive them. And if anyone in mortal sin were to receive one of these graces, he or she could possibly remain in a sinful state even after the gratuitous gift of charism had been received.

4. These graces are not given primarily for the benefit of the individual who receives them but for the good of others and for the edification of the Church.

5. Since the graces gratis datae are something independent of sanctity, it is not necessary that all the saints should have received them. St. Augustine gives the reason for this when he says that they were not given to all the saints lest weak souls should be deceived into thinking that such extraordinary gifts were more important than the good works that are meritorious of eternal life.(3)

But one should not exaggerate this doctrine. The graces gratis datae may indirectly or by redundance be beneficial to the one who receives them; it depends upon the spirit with which such gifts are accepted. These graces do not necessarily require or prove the state of sanctifying grace in the person who receives them, but it seems that God would not normally bestow such graces on persons in mortal sin.

Most of the ancient theologians accepted the names and classification of the graces gratis datae as they were given by St. Paul, but modern theologians and exegetes generally maintain that St. Paul did not intend to give a complete and definitive list, but was referring especially to the charisms God bestows on those who are engaged in the apostolate and ministry of the Church. There are other charisms not enumerated by St. Paul.


Concomitant Mystical Phenomena

The concomitant phenomena vary with the degree of intensity of mystical activity and serve as an indication of the soul’s progress in the mystical life, although each soul does not necessarily experience all the concomitant phenomena or even all the phenomena proper to a given stage, for mystical activity is the work of God, who can lead souls as he will. Moreover, mystical activity is possible in the life of a person who is not in the mystical state. Theologians commonly agree that mystical activity is essentially an experience of God, passively received and more or less intensely felt through the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And since the gifts of the Holy Spirit pertain to the supernatural organism of the spiritual life, whatever proceeds from the activity of the gifts should be classified as concomitant, ordinary mystical phenomena.

The division of concomitant mystical phenomena given by St. Teresa of Avila (4) has been adopted by most theologians since her time. She lists the mystical phenomena in connection with the various grades of mystical prayer, and the same approach is used by St. John of the Cross (5) and St. Francis de Sales.(6) We described these phenomena when treating the grades of mystical prayer in Chapter 12.


The following are the principal and concomitant mystical phenomena, from the beginning to the end of the mystical state:

1. An intuition of God or divine things, as distinct from discursive knowledge, with a profound penetration of divine mysteries.


2. An experimental knowledge of God or divine things, usually accompanied by spiritual joy, interior absorption in God, disdain for worldly pleasures, and a- desire for greater perfection.

3. Passive purification of the senses, which presupposes the active purgations of senses and spirit.

4. Continued awareness of the presence of God, accompanied -by “sleep” or suspension of the faculties, filial fear of God, love of suffering, divine touches, spiritual sensations, flights of the spirit leading to ecstasy, wounds of love, and interior communications.

5. Passive purgation of the spirit.

6. Total death to self, heroism in the practice of virtue, joy in persecution, zeal for the salvation of souls, and relative confirmation in grace.


Extraordinary Mystical Phenomena []

This term refers to those extraordinary psychosomatic manifestations that sometimes occur in authentic mystics but do not fall within the normal manifestations of the mystical state. They proceed from a supernatural cause distinct from sanctifying grace, the virtues, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore they are classified as, epiphenomena or paranormal manifestations. Like the graces gratis datae, they could be given for the good of others or they could be interpreted as a divine witness to the sanctity of the individual for the edification of the Church.

The following are the principal extraordinary phenomena observed in the lives of saints and mystics.(7)



A vision is the supernatural perception of an object naturally invisible to man. We say “supernatural” to distinguish true visions from the illusions or hallucinations that proceed from natural causes or the fraudulent visions produced by diabolical power. St. Augustine is the author of the classical division of visions into corporeal, imaginative, and intellectual.

1. A corporeal vision in one in which the bodily eyes perceive an object normally invisible. It is also called an apparition. The object of a corporeal vision need not be a concrete object or a true human body; it suffices that it be perceived by the sense of sight. Thus a corporeal vision of the Blessed Virgin does not necessarily mean that Mary herself has appeared in her own body, but it could be a representation of Mary by means of light rays or some vaporous substance.

The apparition may be caused in two ways: (a) by an image impressed on the retina of the eye, thus causing the sensation of vision; (b) by an external object actually present to the perceiver.

2. The imaginative vision is the representation of an image supernaturally produced in the imagination. It can be produced in three ways: (a) by the recall of sense impressions already received through the external sense; (b) by a new arrangement of phantasms already acquired and conserved in the imagination; (c) by entirely new phantasms impressed upon the imagination by a supernatural power. This type of vision is usually accompanied by an alienation of the external senses so that the visionary does not confuse the vision with that which is perceived through the external senses.

3. The intellectual vision is a simple intuitive knowledge super, naturally effected without the aid of any sensible image or impressed species in the internal or external senses. As a rule, the object of the intellectual vision is something that surpasses the natural powers of the intellect, although this is not necessarily the case. The impression may last for hours or days or even months, whereas the lower types of vision are usually of short duration. It produces marvelous effects in the soul, such as great light, peace, a desire for heavenly things. It may occur during sleep, during ecstasy or when a person is awake, but only God can cause it. One of the outstanding characteristics of the intellectual vision is the certitude it imparts to be visionary.

The object of a supernatural vision may be anything at all that exists: God, Christ, Mary, the blessed, angels, devils, the souls in purgatory — any living being, or even an inanimate object. According to the teaching of St. Thomas and of theologians generally, the apparitions of Christ and Mary are not produced by their bodily presence but are merely representative visions. The apparitions representing the divinity should usually be considered to be, as St. Teresa states, “some kind of representation.”(8) They are not to be presumed, therefore, to be intuitive visions of the divine essence, for this is reserved for the state of glory.

There is no great difficulty in explaining the apparitions of angels or demons. These are pure spirits, and a spirit is where it acts.. Moreover, a spirit has the power, with God’s permission, of assuming some material substance with which to represent itself even to the bodily eye, whether that substance is a body or light rays or some kind of cloud or vapor. If the souls of the dead (whether blessed, in purgatory, or in hell) were to appear in bodily form, the explanation would be the same as that given for angelic apparitions, since the separated souls are pure spirits, and the bodies they once possessed are now reduced to dust. As to the apparition of persons still living on earth or of inanimate objects, we are faced with an apparent bilocation, and therefore we shall treat of the matter under that heading. But a living person could also be represented by means of an angelic or diabolical power.


As for the discernment of judgment of visions, the intellectual vision is the easiest to detect, although the spiritual director has nothing more for a basis of judgment than the certitude and conviction experienced by the visionary that the vision was from God. Since the intellect cannot be acted upon immediately by the devil, an intellectual vision could never be caused by diabolical power. The greatest difficulty lies in the discernment and verification of the imaginative and corporeal visions. Here there is always the possibility of diabolical influence or one’s own imagination, and sometimes the only criterion is to judge by the fruits or effects caused by the visions in the visionary. At first the visions that come from God cause fear in the soul, and this later gives place to love, humility, and peace. The soul’s energies are increased, and it gives itself more generously to the practices of virtue. Visions that are diabolical in origin begin with sweetness and peace but soon fill the soul with turbulence, presumption, and pride, Visions caused by one’s own imagination lead to vanity, curiosity, superficial virtue, and contradiction in the descriptive account of the experience.



Although it frequently happens that visions are accompanied by locutions, it is possible for either to occur without the other. A locution is an affirmation or statement supernaturally effected. Like visions, it admits of three types: auricular, imaginative, and intellectual.

1. Auricular locutions are words perceived by the bodily sense of hearing by reason of acoustical vibrations. In themselves they may be produced by God, by angels, or by demons. They may also be produced by natural causes, whether physical or psychic. They sometimes seem to proceed from a bodily vision, the Blessed Sacrament, a religious image such as a crucifix, or some other article that is used as an instrument.

2. Imaginative locutions are words perceived in the imagination and may occur either during sleep or in waking hours. They may proceed from God, the devil, or natural causes. The best rule of discernment is the effects produced in the soul. If they are from God, they cause humility, fervor, desire for self-immolation, obedience, desire to perform perfectly one’s duties of state. If they proceed from the devil, they cause dryness, inquietude, insubordination, etc. The ones that proceed from the individual do not usually produce any noteworthy effects.

3. Intellectual locutions are words perceived directly by the intellect, and the activity is similar to that by which angels would communicate ideas to each other. Two elements concur in this type of locution: the preexisting or infused intelligible species and the supernatural light that illumines and clarifies them. It is beyond the power of the devil to produce a truly intellectual locution, for he cannot operate on the human intellect directly. St. John of the Cross divides the intellectual locutions into three types: successive, formal, and substantial.(9)

(a) At first glance the successive locutions would seem to be a human dialogue because, as St. John of the Cross points out, the individual seems to be formulating ideas and reasoning things out. But in reality they come from the Holy Spirit who aids the soul to produce and form its concepts; thus it is an activity in which both the soul and the Holy Spirit play a part. These locutions are called successive because they are not the result of an instantaneous and intuitive enlightenment. On the contrary, God instructs the soul through successive reasonings. Because it is an intellectual locution, there cannot be any error in substance or principle; if there is error, it is the result of the operation of the human intellect. There may be, however, certain illusions or deceptions as a result of the activity of the imagination.

(b) The formal locutions are perceived by the intellect as evidently coming from another. The human intellect contributes nothing of itself; ‘ therefore, they may come upon the soul whether it is recollected or distracted or engaged in some other occupation. The soul cannot help receiving these locutions, and it always understands them clearly. If the locutions pertain to future events, they are always fulfilled, although the individual should be cautious and fearful of deception by the devil. The devil cannot act directly on the human intellect, but he may act on the imagination and thereby attempt to deceive or mislead the soul.

(c) The substantial locutions are basically the same as the formal locutions but with this difference: that which is stated in the locution is effected immediately. For example, if God says to the soul, “Be humble,” it at once feels the inclination to prostrate itself before his Divine Majesty; if he says, “Peace be with you,” the soul is immediately calm and tranquil. There is no room for error or deception in the substantial locutions because they are similar to the creative words of God, such as “Let there be light.” The effects so far surpass human and diabolical power that there can be no doubt as to their supernatural origin. The soul at this point needs only to leave itself in the hands of God, whose words are works, as St. Teresa says.



Revelation is the supernatural manifestation of a hidden truth or divine secret for the general good of the Church or the benefit of some individual. The veil that hides the secret of hidden truth may be removed supernaturally by means of a vision, a locution, or a prophetic instinct. All divine revelation presupposes the gift of prophecy, and its interpretation requires the discernment of spirits.

It is commonly taught in theology that public revelation dosed with the death of the last apostle. All revelations made since that time are classed as private revelations, even if they pertain to matters that are spiritually beneficial to the Church in general.


Authors of spiritual theology usually divide private revelations into absolute, conditioned, and denunciatory revelations, depending upon whether the revelation is a simple statement of a truth or mystery, a conditioned statement, or a threat of punishment. The denunciatory revelation may also be conditioned, as in the case of the prophecy of Jonas concerning the destruction of Nineveh. If revelations refer to the future they are ordinarily called prophecy, although prophecy as such abstracts from time and place.

There have always been persons gifted with prophecy, as is testified by Scripture and the processes of canonization of the servants of God. Nevertheless, private revelations do not pertain to the deposit of faith, which consists of the truths contained in Scripture and Tradition under the vigilance of the Church. Yet if, after a prudent judgment, it is determined that a given revelation is authentic, the one who has received the revelation should accept it in the spirit of faith. It is disputed among the theologians whether this act of faith is an act of divine faith; it seems to us that it is.

Moreover, if a private revelation contains a message for others and it has been accepted as an authentic revelation, those persons also have an obligation to accept the truth of the revelation and act upon it. For all others, however, nothing more is required than a pious belief, even when the Church has given her negative approval to a revelation by stating that there is nothing contained in it that is contrary to faith and morals. In approving a private revelation the Church does not intend to guarantee the authenticity of the revelation; she simply examines the content of the revelation and states whether or not the faithful may accept it without danger to faith or morals. It would be reprehensible, nevertheless, if one were to contradict or ridicule a private revelation after the Church had given this negative approbation.

It sometimes happens that an individual who has received an authentic revelation does not report the revelation accurately, and this may be due to several reasons. If the revelation is extended to other matters closely related but not actually revealed, the revelation has been falsified. It may also happen that, if an individual has been preoccupied with some theological question or already has an extensive knowledge of the matter in the revelation, he or she may unwittingly add to or alter the revelation. When there is a mixture of the human and the divine, it becomes extremely difficult to discern one from the other. At other times the alteration of the revelation may be due to scribes, editors, translators. Another difficulty lies in the interpretation of private revelations, even when they have been transmitted accurately. Moreover, when it falls to others to interpret revelations and they themselves are not the recipients, God does not necessarily give the required light to these persons, or he may deliberately let them fall into error as a punishment.


The following norms are offered as guides for the spiritual director in the discernment of spirits so far as they pertain to revelations and prophecies:

1. Any revelation contrary to dogma or morals must be rejected as false. God does not contradict himself.

2. Any revelation contrary to the common teaching of theologians or purporting to settle an argument among the schools of theology is gravely suspect.

3. If some detail or other in a revelation is false, it is not necessary to reject the entire revelation; the remainder may be authentic.

4. The fact that a prophecy is fulfilled is not of itself a conclusive proof that the revelation was from God; it could have been the mere unfolding of natural causes or the result of a superior natural knowledge on the part of the seer.

5. Revelations concerning merely curious or useless matters should be rejected as not divine. The same is to be said of those that are detailed, lengthy, and filled with a superfluity of proofs and reasons. Divine revelations are generally brief, clear, and precise.

6. The person who receives the revelation should be examined carefully, especially as to temperament and character. If the person is humble, well balanced, discreet, evidently advanced in virtue, and enjoys good mental and physical health, there is good reason to proceed further and to examine the revelation itself. But if the individual is exhausted with excessive mortifications, suffers nervous affliction, is subject to periods of great exhaustion or great depression, or is eager to divulge the revelation, there is cause for serious doubt.


Reading of Hearts

This phenomenon consists in knowledge of the secrets of hearts, supernaturally communicated by God. The grace is given not only for the good of others but also sometimes for the spiritual benefit of the recipient. It has nothing to do with the natural dispositions of the individual nor the grade of holiness attained by the individual.

The certain and infallible knowledge of the secrets of hearts is completely supernatural and cannot in any way be attained by human nature or the devil. The reason for this is that the human intellect and will are not accessible to any other human being or any angelic power; God and the individual alone have free access to the secrets of one’s own heart. It is not at all impossible, however, to possess a conjectural knowledge concerning the secrets of hearts, but this would not surpass the powers of created nature.



Thus certain gifted persons of experience are able to observe and rightly interpret the facial expressions, gestures, and attitudes of others to such an extent that they seem to possess a clear and certain knowledge of matters that would normally be beyond the power of the average human being.

If this sort of insight is possible to humans, with all the more reason would it be possible to devils or angels, whose intellects are far superior to our own. But this type of knowledge, however astounding, is not to be considered as a true reading of hearts.



This phenomenon refers to the ability to recognize immediately any person, place, or thing that is holy, blessed or consecrated, and to distinguish it from those things that are not.

Hierognosis transcends the powers of nature and cannot be explained naturally or preternaturally. There is no way in which one could distinguish a blessed or consecrated article from those that are not holy objects. But it should be noted that, whereas many mystics have manifested an almost magnetic attraction for holy objects, the devil or those under his power have manifested the greatest revulsion or horror when any blessed article is brought near them.


Flames of Love

This phenomenon is usually regarded as a manifestation of the mystic’s intense love of God. It consists of a burning sensation in the body or even the scorching of the clothing, especially in the vicinity of the heart. It admits of three grades or degrees: (1) simple interior heat — an extraordinary heat perceived in the area of the heart and sometimes spreading throughout the entire body; (2) intense ardors –the heat reaches such an intensity that cold applications must be used to assuage the burning sensation; (3) material burning — the heat reaches such a point of intensity that the mystic’s clothing is scorched.

There is no doubt that the explanation of this phenomenon offers difficulties, and yet it should be understood that the first and second degree could result from natural causes, and that all three degrees, with God’s permission, could be caused by diabolical power.



The stigmata is the spontaneous appearance in the body of wounds resembling the wounds of Christ crucified. They usually appear in the hands, feet, and side, though sometimes there are also wounds in the head, as from a crown of thorns, and wounds over the entire surface of the body, resembling the wounds of the scourging. The wounds may be visible or invisible, permanent or periodic, and transitory, simultaneous, or successive. It almost always occurs in ecstatics and is often preceded by physical and moral suffering. Tanquerey states that the absence of such suffering would be an unfavorable symptom because in a true mystic the stigmata is a sign of union with the crucified Christ and a participation in his sufferings.(10) The first ecstatic to be recognized as such in the history of spirituality is St. Francis of Assisi, who received the stigmata on Mount Alverno on September 17, 1224. It is possible that there were other stigmatics before the time of St. Francis, and it is certain that there have been many since his time.

The question arises as to whether of not St. Paul suffered the stigmata, because of his statement in his Epistle to the Galatians (6:17) that he bore the stigmata of Christ. According to Père Lagrange, the word stigmata, as used by St. Paul, signifies that he bore the marks of the sufferings that he had endured for the sake of Christ. Hence all the authors begin the list of stigmatics with the name of St. Francis and omit St. Paul entirely.(11)

Two extremes must be avoided in attempting to evaluate the stigmata: to assign too readily a supernatural cause for every such visible manifestation, and to see every such phenomenon as a purely psychosomatic disorder. The Church has accepted relatively few cases of stigmatization as authentic and has always demanded more proof than the mere appearance of visible signs in the body. There is historical evidence that certain Muslims, yogis, and Brahmanists have produced marks on the body by autosuggestion. There is also clinical proof that a German by the name of Arthur Otto Mook, a non-practicing Protestant, bore all the wounds of the stigmata. His condition was kept secret for several years but was finally made public in 1949.

Modern psychiatrists would surely admit that the human imagination is powerful enough to produce pains and wounds in the body. After World War II there were many examples of men who suffered from physical wounds that were not inflicted in battle but were the result of their own imagination and powers of concentration; men who willed not to be cured’ so that they would not have to return to battle; men who suffered the sympathetic pains of wounds they had witnessed in their comrades. It would seem, therefore, that, if a person willed to suffer the passion of Christ and had a vivid imagination and strong powers of concentration, he or she could produce bodily wounds by autosuggestion or self-hypnosis.

But we find in the history of authentic stigmatics that they were often taken by surprise by .the stigmata, that they sought to conceal it, and they asked God to remove the visible signs. The true stigmatization in a mystic must proceed from a supernatural cause.


Granted the difficulty in discerning the true cause of a stigmata, the following norms may serve as a guide for distinguishing between true and apparent mystical stigmatization:

1. The marks of the true stigmata are usually located in the places in which tradition places the five wounds suffered by Christ; pathological wounds are not uniformly localized.

2. Usually the wounds of the true stigmata bleed on the days or at times when the passion of Christ is commemorated; not so with the pathological.

3. The true stigmata never suppurates, and the blood is always clean and pure; nor can the wounds be healed by natural medication.

4. The flow of blood is so great at times that it cannot be explained naturally.

5. The stigmata is usually found in persons who practice the virtues to a heroic degree and have a tender love of Christ in his passion, and it usually occurs during periods of ecstasy or prayer.

6. The appearance of the true stigmata is usually instantaneous, whereas in pathological cases it often appears gradually.

But is it not possible that the stigmata could be caused by the devil? The devil, with God’s permission, could produce the marks of the stigmata, for he can act upon man’s body and external senses. He could also be responsible for the stigmata produced by the imagination, for he can have access to that faculty if God allows. He could also prompt an individual to simulate the stigmata. Here, as in all the phenomena, we repeat again the basic norm for spiritual directors: if a person claims to have received the stigmata from God and even shows the signs of the wounds in hands and feet and side, and if at the same time that person does not give evidence of a high degree of virtue in the performance of the duties of state in life, then that person is to be judged a fraud or the victim of illusion.


Tears of Blood and Bloody Sweat

As the names imply, these two phenomena consist in an effusion of blood from the pores of the skin, especially on the face and forehead, or a bloody effusion from the eyes after the manner of tears.

There are cases in medical history of the bloody sweat, called in medicine hematidrosis. Many theories have been proposed in the attempt to give a medical explanation, ranging from hemophilia to the imagination and the organic effects of fear and courage. Whatever the medical explanation, it must be admitted that the bloody sweat can be caused by natural or diabolical powers. It would seem prudent to work on the presumption that these phenomena of the blood have a natural explanation in a particular case.


Exchange of Hearts

From all appearances this phenomenon consists in the extraction of the heart of the mystic and the substitution of another, presumably the heart of Christ. After the phenomenon occurs, the mystic often bears a wound and then a scar over the place in which the substitution of hearts was made.

How can this phenomenon be explained? It can hardly be doubted to have occurred, granted the testimony that is given in the lives of so many of the saints. The only plausible explanation is that it is strictly miraculous. The difficulty revolves around the apparent substitution of the heart of Christ for the heart of a human being. Pope Benedict XIV gave the most plausible theological explanation when he stated in his eulogy on St. Michael de los Santos that the exchange of hearts was a mystical and spiritual exchange.



This phenomenon consists in the total abstinence from nourishment for a length of time beyond the natural powers. It is medically certain that the human body cannot exist beyond a certain period without nourishment. Although there are some cases in medical history in which individuals have existed for almost eighty days without any solid food, but only liquids, the point would be reached at which no human being could survive. How, then, can one explain the phenomenon in the lives of some saints who lived for months or entire years without food? Not only did they not lose weight, but they also manifested great energy, mental balance, and astounding activity.

It should be noted that the Church has never used inedia as a sole rule for the canonization of a saint. There is always the possibility here of diabolical intervention or the action of some unknown power and law of nature. But if it can ever be sufficiently verified that the inedia is of supernatural origin, it must be considered a suspension of the natural law and a presage, as it were, of the glorified body.


Prolonged Absence of Sleep

It is recorded of some saints that they had no sleep for long periods of time, or that they lived on scarcely any sleep at all. This phenomenon surpasses the natural order, for sleep is one of the body needs without which the individual cannot survive. The organism must repair its strength if life is to be preserved. One may reduce oneself to an absolute minimum in this regard, but one cannot exclude rest entirely.


The rest may be obtained by actual sleep, or by relaxation and inactivity of the body, or even during a mystical ecstasy in which all the faculties are suspended.

Hence while it may be admitted that in some cases of absence of sleep there may have been a miracle involved, it is also possible that sufficient rest was gained in certain periods so that the body was able to survive. We do not intend to assume a purely rationalistic attitude in this matter, but merely to avoid multiplying miracles without sufficient reason.



This phenomenon consists in the apparently instantaneous transfer or movement of a material body without seeming to pass through the intervening space. Many instances are recorded in the lives of the saints. So far as is known at the present time, the phenomenon surpasses the powers of nature and would have to be attributed to a supernatural or preternatural cause. If it were caused by the devil, it would be only apparently instantaneous, for although he has the agility of a spirit, if he were to transport a physical body, it would have to pass through the intervening space, even if the speed of the movement were faster than the human eye could detect.

If the agility were the result of a supernatural power, it would either be through the instrumentality of an angel (and then the same explanation would prevail as in the case of a diabolical power), or else God could give to the individual person the power to move with the rapidity of light or electricity. In the latter case the phenomenon would be something of an anticipated agility of the glorified body. As such it would be strictly miraculous.



This is one of the most stupendous of all the extraordinary mystical phenomena, and one of the most difficult to explain. It consists in the apparently simultaneous presence of a physical body in two distinct places at the same time. It is philosophically repugnant that a material body should be in two distinct places at the same time by a circumscriptive presence. Although this statement is denied by some philosophers and theologians, we maintain that the circumscriptive presence of a material body in two distinct places is a contradiction in terms. Hence it could not even be effected by a miracle.

If, therefore, it appears that a body is in two distinct places at the same time, the true and physical body is present in one of the places, and in the other place it is only apparently present by means of a representation of some kind. Such a representation could be produced supernaturally, preternaturally, or naturally.

In case of a bilocation supernaturally caused, the person is physically present in one place and miraculously represented by a sensible representation in the other term of the bilocation. The representation could be effected in any of the ways in which a vision or an apparition could be effected, e.g., a true physical body in the likeness of St. Martin assumed by an angel, or a spiritual apparition after the manner of an intellectual, imaginative, or corporeal vision. In the latter case the phenomenon of bilocation would be reduced to the phenomenon of a vision.

If the phenomenon of apparent bilocation is effected through diabolical power, with God’s permission, it is merely a case of the devil using light rays, vapor, or a material substance to simulate the physical body of the person involved. There is no difficulty in affirming this, since the devil has power to make use of material substances.

Is it at all possible that by some natural power as yet unknown a given person could project, as it were, a phantasm or representation of himself to another place? Or is it possible that through some type of telepathy certain persons could see an individual in a distant place while the person remains in another location? We must confess that as yet there is nothing scientifically certain, but we should not close the door on a possible natural explanation, especially in view of the great strides that have been made in recent years in parapsychology.



As its name indicates, this phenomenon refers to the suspension of a material body in the air without any visible support, in opposition to the law of gravity. There are numerous examples of this phenomenon in the lives of the saints. Generally the levitation occurs during ecstasy, which admits of various types: if the elevation is slight, ascensional ecstasy; if the elevation is great, ecstatic flight; if there is a rapid movement or gliding above the earth, ecstatic march. In the case of Venerable Mary of Agreda, her body seemed to lose all weight during levitation, so that if one breathed on it, it moved like a feather in the breeze.

When truly supernatural, levitation is a kind of anticipated participation in the agility of a glorified body. Nevertheless, this phenomenon can easily be falsified, as we suspect has often occurred in spiritualistic séances. There are also authentic case histories in pathology in which there has been an apparent levitation, as in certain instances of hysterical seizures.


Although the devil cannot work a true miracle, it is possible for him, with God’s permission, to make use of invisible powers in order to suspend a material body in the air or to cause it to levitate and move above the earth. Lastly, there are those who claim they have been able to levitate by their own power.


Penetration of Bodies

The phenomenon whereby one material body apparently passes through another material body is recorded of Christ after his Resurrection (John 19:20-26) and of some saints.

Theologians commonly state that compenetration of bodies is effected miraculously by God as an anticipated participation in the subtlety of a glorified body. And since this phenomenon involves a miracle, it could never be produced naturally or preternaturally. As in the case of bilocation, however, it would be more prudent to suspend judgment in the light of modern scientific investigations concerning the nature and properties of the quantity and dimensions of physical bodies.


Mystical Aureoles

This phenomenon consists in the resplendent light that irradiates at times from the bodies of mystics, especially during contemplation or ecstasy. There are countless cases recorded. It is considered by some authors to be an anticipation of the radiant splendor of the glorified body.

Illumination and phosphorescence have been witnessed in certain plants, and insects and minerals as well as in the bodies of persons during spiritualistic séances. One of the noteworthy differences between the truly mystical aureole and the luminosity of the spiritualists is that the former seems to radiate from the body of the mystic, whereas the latter appears above or around the body. It is also possible for the devil to produce such rays of light, since it is something that is basically material.


Sweet Odor

This is a phenomenon in which the body or tomb of a saint emits a sweet odor. Frequently it is an odor that cannot be compared to any known perfume.

Pope Benedict XIV declared that, whereas it may happen that a given body may not smell bad, it is not likely that a human body will smell sweet, and especially when it is dead, whether corrupt or not. Hence any sweet perfume that proceeds from it would have to be produced by supernatural powers and be classified as miraculous. But it could be caused by diabolical power, since the devil has power to act upon the external senses.



It has been recorded of numerous saints that their bodies or some material object connected with them would not burn when placed in or over the flames of a fire. In general, the incombustibility of bodies may be truly supernatural, preternatural, or due perhaps to some unknown power of nature possessed by certain individuals. Cases of spiritualism abound in which persons were able to hold in their hands red-hot coals and even put them on the top of their heads or on those of others without being burned or the hair being singed. While it is true that many of the incidents in the lives of holy persons are obviously miraculous and must therefore be attributed to the direct intervention of God, the question in general must remain open.


Bodily Elongation

This phenomenon has been witnessed not only in the lives of a few saints but also in certain spiritualists. Although in the latter case one must suspect trickery or diabolical intervention, if it occurs in the life of a mystic there is always a question as to its purpose. The fact remains that in these cases the body or limb of the individual has visibly elongated to proportions far beyond the normal. It is another strange phenomenon we prefer to leave as an open question until more detailed studies have been made.


Other Phenomena

Other phenomena are well attested in the history of the saints. Incorruptibility of the body is a relatively common phenomenon in hagiography. The bodies of these persons were found to be either temporarily or permanently incorrupt.

The absence of rigor mortis has been verified in some instances. Medical authorities have stated that rigor mortis is absolutely certain to set in sooner or later, although there may be a variation of a few hours one way or the other. In view of this, the phenomenon of the complete absence of any rigidity in the bodies of the deceased saints offers a curious problem. It could be from a supernatural or a preternatural cause, and perhaps in some instances there may possibly be a natural explanation. But the phenomenon itself is not sufficient as proof of sanctity.



Many of the accounts of corpses shedding blood are of ancient origin. The blood prodigy of St. Januarius is a special case and is known to all.

What is to be said about these various prodigies relating to corpses? The truth of the matter is that very little can be said definitively.

Granted that any one of them could possibly be supernatural in origin because of a divine intervention, or that any of them could, with God’s permission, be the work of the devil, it is much more scientific and prudent to withhold judgment in most instances. Possibly in some future day scientists will be able to give a natural explanation for many of these strange occurrences, which in many cases seem to have no purpose from a spiritual point of view.

In discussing the extraordinary phenomena in particular, we have tried to avoid any premature judgments but have attempted to hold fast to the principle that no phenomenon should be attributed to a superior cause if it can be explained by an inferior one. We have not listed each and every phenomenon; for that we refer the reader to the more detailed studies in books that treat specifically of occult phenomena. Neither have we given a definitive judgment in each instance, for we believe it much wiser to leave a question open when there is still room for doubt or hope of a natural explanation at some future date. Nevertheless, there are more than sufficient extraordinary and truly miraculous phenomena on record to show us that God is truly glorified in his saints.



1. Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, trans. E. Allison Peers (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1957), Stanza 3.

2. The Book of Foundations, trans. E. Allison Peers (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1946), Chap. 8.

3. Cf. St. Augustine, De divers. quaest., 83, q. 79.

4. Cf.
The Interior Castle, Mansions 4 to 7.

5. Cf. The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, Chaps. 10-31.

6. See Treatise on the Love of God, trans. B. Mackey (New York: Doubleday, 1942), Chaps. 6-7.

7. For further study, see Herbert Thurston, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism (New York: Hawthorn, 1952); Zolt Aradi, The Book of Miracles (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1956); Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism (New York: Meridian, 1960); Alois Wiesinger, Occult Phenomena (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1957); J. Maréchal, Studies in the Psychology of Mysticism (New York: Benziger, 1928); A. Farges, Mystical Phenomena Compared with their Human and Diabolical Counterparts (London: Bums, Oates & Washboume, 1926).

8. Cf. The Interior Castle, Seventh Mansions, Chap. 1.

9. Cf. The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, Chaps. 28-31.

10. Cf. A. Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, trans. H. Brandeis (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1948), p. 714.

11. Cf. M. J. Lagrange, Epitre aux Galates, c. 6, v. 17.



Nihil Obstat: Rev. John Cosmic, Censor Librorum

Imprimatur: + William E. McManus Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend October 17, 1979

Fr. Aumann O. P., is a native of the United States and Director of the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is also a Consultor for the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy and Catechetics and likewise a Consultor for the Sacred Congregation for Evangelization.


On The Current Norms Governing

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith September 29, 1984

L. S. In Congr. pro Doctrina Fidei tab., n. 291/70

[The following translation has been prepared by EWTN Online Services. It is not an official translation, and is not to be circulated without this warning.]

Excellentissime Domine,

For several years, in certain areas of the Church, assemblies formed to pray for liberation from the influence of demons (though they do not perform exorcisms as such) have been increasing in number. These assemblies are often led by members of the laity, even when there is a priest present.

Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been asked what is the proper attitude towards these activities, this Dicastery deems it necessary to make known to all Ordinaries the response which follows:


1. Canon 1172 of the Code of Canon Law declares that no one may licitly perform exorcisms on those who are possessed [obsessos], unless he has obtained particular and express permission from the local ordinary (section 1), and it decrees that this permission is to be granted by the Ordinary only to priests who are outstanding in piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life (section 2). Bishops are therefore strongly urged to enforce the observance of these prescriptions.

2. It follows also from these same prescriptions that Christ’s faithful may not employ the formula of exorcism against Satan and the fallen angels which is excerpted from that formula made official by order of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII, and certainly may not use the entire text of that exorcism. Let all bishops take care to admonish the faithful about this matter whenever such instruction is required.

3. Finally, for the same reasons, Bishops are asked to guard lest those who lack the required power attempt to lead assemblies in which prayers are employed to obtain liberation from demons, and in the course of which the demons are directly disturbed and an attempt is made to determine their identity. This applies even to cases which, although they do not involve true diabolical possession, nevertheless are seen in some way to manifest diabolical influence.

[EWTN theological note: Paragraph 3 applies this prohibition to obsession (of persons) and infestation (of places). CBD]

Of course, the enunciation of these norms should not stop the faithful of Christ from praying, as Jesus taught us, that they may be freed from evil (cf. Mt 6:13). Moreover, Pastors should take this opportunity to remember what the tradition of the Church teaches about the function properly assigned to the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles and the Saints, even in the spiritual battle of Christians against the evil spirits.

May I take this occasion to convey my great feelings of esteem for you, remaining your servant in the Lord,

Iosephus Card. Ratzinger, Praefectus

Albertus Bovone, a Secretis


The Church and Exorcism


Possession is when Satan enters and takes over the physical and mental capabilities of a victim, however, the soul and will remains free. Satan acts through the victim without the victim’s consent, thus the victim is morally blameless. Satan does not act alone when he possesses an individual. He works side by side with many evil spirits such as spirits of lust, hate, destruction, suicide, revenge, anger, anxiety, desperation, death, torment, etc. Such an example is found in Luke 8:30 the case of the possessed man in the territory of the Gerasenes: “Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him “.

Satan’s army of evil, torment many unknowing lost souls to the point of destruction of others and of themselves. Today a more favorable climate exists for cases of possession and obsession then ever before. Our world has become a playground of pornography, sex, money, material possessions, drugs, and alcohol. There are so many instruments to spread these Satanic messages such as television, Internet, radio, music, and even the clothing we wear; thus our children are exposed to a multitude of temptations and are wide open to evil. The “predominant” Gods of this age we live in include money, television, music, and sex. Unfortunately, the “cure”-exorcism, is considered an “ancient” ritual and is snubbed by most religious leaving many victims to suffer indescribable torments, and in some instances, even suicide.


SIGNS OF POSSESSION (from the Roman Ritual of Exorcism)

The following are symptoms of possession as represented in the Roman Ritual of Exorcism. In most cases, a victim will have one or more of the traits listed.

Victim speaks or understands unknown languages without ever studying the language being spoken or heard

Victim clearly knows things that are distant or hidden

Victim can predict future events (sometimes through dreams)

Victim has an intense hatred for holy things

Victim shows a physical strength far above his age or normal condition


The Extraordinary Activities of Satan Defined

The following is taken from Fr. Gabriele Amorth’s second book “An Exorcist More Stories.” Fr. Amorth’s book is published by IGNATIUS released in 2002. The boundaries between one category and another are not clear-cut, because there is a lot of mingling and compounding of symptoms.


External Pain – deals strictly with physical suffering. This includes the beatings, scourging, and injuries caused by inexplicable pushing, falling objects, and so on, that we read about in the lives of many saints, such as the Curé of Ars. Saint Paul of the Cross, and Padre Pio. These occurrences are not as rare as we may think, and the demon’s activity is usually confined to external activity; internal activity, if any, is only temporary and limited to the duration of a particular disturbance.

Diabolic Possession – is the gravest form of demonic activity, which allows a continuing presence of a demon in a human body. The evil symptoms do not have to be continuous but can alternate between periods of crisis and periods of rest. Possession implies intervals of temporary suspension of mental, intellectual, affective, and volitive faculties. Symptoms can include the knowledge of languages unknown to the victim, superhuman strength, and the ability to know the occult or someone else’s thoughts. Typically, there is an aversion to anything sacred, often in conjunction with blasphemy. There are also frauds who pose as demoniac; therefore, we need to be extremely wary.

Diabolic Oppression – is a ransom discomfort. We must remember that symptoms and gravity differ greatly case by case. This oppression can strike health, job, affections, relationship with others, and so on. Its symptoms include unexplainable rages and a tendency to complete isolation. Oppression can affect both individual and groups (even very large groups).

Diabolic Obsession – causes an almost split personality. Our will remains free, but it is oppressed by obsessive thoughts. The victim experiences thoughts that may be rationally absurd but of such a nature that he is unable to free himself. The obsessed person lives in a perpetual state of prostration, with persistent temptations to suicide. We must be aware that the temptation to commit suicide is also present in diabolic possession and diabolic oppression.

Diabolic Infestation – In this case, the malefic activity is directed toward places (houses, offices, stores, fields), objects (cars, pillows, mattresses, dolls) and animals, therefore it only indirectly affects man. Origen tells us that the early Christians resorted to exorcisms in these situations.

Diabolic Subjugation – The term indicates a voluntary pact — implicit or explicit — with Satan, by which we submit to the lordship of the demon. There are also involuntary times with the evil one; these cases fall into the preceding categories, especially the most severe: possession.



Below, Fr. Amorth explains that there are four principal causes that may cause one to fall victim to these evils.

Pure Divine Permission
Clearly, nothing happens without divine permission, but God never wills evil, suffering, or temptation. He gave us freedom and allows the existence of evil, but knows how to turn it into good. When he gives the demon his permission to torment us, he does so to strengthen us in virtue, as in the biblical example of Job, as well as of many blesseds and saints. We must keep in mind that diabolical harassment in itself has nothing to do with the state of grace of its victims.

Subject to a Curse
Here, too, the victim is innocent, but there is culpability on the part of whoever casts and/or commissions the curse. By the word curse, I mean the intention of harming others through demonic intervention. This can be achieved in many ways: malefice (or spell), binding, evil eye, malediction, and so on. The matter is serious, but we need to be on guard against misconceptions. By their nature, curses lend themselves to all sorts of abuses, especially when we consider the current escalation in the number of frauds, suggestions, manias, and more.

Grave Hardening of Sin
Judas Iscariot is the classical Gospel example. The many individuals who abandon themselves to sexual perversions, violence, and drugs fall into this group. The heinous crime of abortion aggravates this situation; its terrible repercussions are clearly seen during exorcisms, because to liberate a victim who is guilty of abortion usually requires a very long period of time. Due to the current devastation of the family and the laxity of morals, the repercussions that stem from the scourge of abortion are much more common than in the past. When we take all these factors into account, we can understand why the number of individuals stricken by evil ailments has multiplied.

Proximity to Evil Places or Persons
This includes attending spiritualistic session, dabbling in magic, or consulting magicians, witch doctors, and some card readers; also, practicing the occult, belonging to satanic sects, or practicing in rites that climax with black masses, and so on, put us at great risk.

To this category we can add the influence of mass media, such as pornographic shows and violent horror movies broadcast by many TV stations. We witness the effects of the widespread presence of rock music, culminating in satanic rock performed in what we could easily refer to as “churches of rock”, such as stadiums, parks, and discothèques. We should not be surprised that, today, there is an explosion of these activities: a decline in faith life is directly connected to an increase in superstitions.


I will not tire of repeating that members of the clergy have done nothing to oppose, or at least warn against, all these evils, because they are completely ignorant even of what the Bible explicitly says on the subject. This fourth category has greatly contributed to the increase in evil ailments in the last decades, especially among the young.

Taken from An Exorcist – More Stories by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, published by IGNATIUS PRESS



In the early church (according the Early Church Fathers) the casting out of demons was widely accepted and exorcism could be performed by anyone. Why then has this practice changed? It has been found that in severe cases if the one who is casting out the demons is not experienced or grounded in faith and does not have sufficient spiritual protection it can be harmful for both the victim and the so-called exorcist. We find in Matthew 17:20-21 a case in which the apostles could not cast out a demon from the epileptic demoniac. Jesus rebuked them for not being prepared and told them only through prayer and fasting could this demon be cast out.

Before Vatican II the exorcism prayer was part of the Baptismal rite. Why? In the days of the early church there were many pagans coming into the church. Part of the long preparation for these pagans coming into the church was exorcism on Holy Saturday before Easter.

Around the third century, Pope Cornelius was the first to make the exorcist a minor order. He announced that an exorcist could be a priest, deacon or in the subdiaconate. The minor order of exorcism has since been dropped by Pope Paul VI in 1972. He did not believe there was a need and it was obsolete.


From the Commentary of the Code of Canon Law

Canon 1172

(1) No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special express permission from the local ordinary.

(2) The local ordinary is to give this permission only to a presbyter who has piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life.

An exorcism is a sacramental by which “the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion. The canon pertains to solemn exorcisms observing the Rite of Exorcism of the Roman Ritual, not to the simply exorcism that are part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or the baptism of infants.

One of the praenotanda to the 1998 Rite of Exorcism (n13) has completely reordered this canon. There are significant differences between the new law and the canon.

An exorcist is to be a priest (sacerdos) not a presbyter (presbyterus) as in the canon, which means bishops as well as presbyters may be appointed exorcists.

The priest must have specific preparation for this office.

“For the most part” (plerumque), the local ordinary who appoints the exorcist should be the diocesan bishop, which implies that the vicar general and episcopal vicar should not do it without a special mandate, except in a case of need when the bishop cannot be reached.

The exorcist, whether appointed to the stable office of exorcist or ad actum, is to fulfill this ministry under the direction of the diocesan bishop.


The Ritual of Exorcism

By Father Cliff Graham

Exorcists in this day and age are on the verge of extinction. No one, religious or lay, would like to acknowledge the fact that Satan is alive and well, tormenting and destroying souls. Many religious do not believe in possession and many are afraid to believe that it can occur. It seems that most religious fear Satan and what he can do to them, more then they believe in God who can do ALL things. Fear is Satan’s dear friend. When someone fears Satan, Satan has power over them. The religious clergy fail to realize that Satan’s biggest fear, more than exorcism, is confession. A priest who preaches, and hears confessions, should not be afraid to be an exorcist. To not use the powers of exorcism that Christ has given, is a direct betrayal of His command.



The appendix of the Roman Ritual has the longer rite of exorcism and states that the exorcist should “Superpelliceo et stola violacea indutus,” (wear an alb and a purple stole) right before the part of the prayer that begins “Ecce crucem domine, fúgite partes advérsae.” The priest is instructed to “imponat extreman parte stolae ejus” (having made the sign of the cross over the victim, place the ends of the stole around this person’s neck).


One may have two normal sized stoles sewn together in order to have a very long stole to extend from the priest to the victim’s neck. It is truly amazing how the blessed stole calms and controls the possessed person. Certainly one initially may encounter violent reactions, but that is to be expected. The stole not only symbolizes, but demonstrates the power of the priesthood. Jesus binds the evil spirits with the use of this sacramental.

The Ritual next instructs the priest to place his right hand on the head of his victim. Of course, the imposition of hands was used by Jesus to heal the sick. The church mimics this use in the Sacrament of the Sick and in other ways. Jesus blessed children in this way. It has been noted by many individuals that hands of the priest’s calm or burn them. If an assistant priest is present, they also may place hands on the person’s head. A Bible containing both the Old and New Testaments should be on hand when questioning and commanding the demons to respond. After invoking the Holy Spirit, there is surprising response and confirmation, which are keys to opening up and freeing the person. For example, a woman who had been a war orphan revealed through scripture that she was not baptized. Another woman opened the Bible to Tobias where it stated that she was not married in the church. A couple opened the Bible to the Old testament reading on abortion, which confirmed, at some point to unforgiven sin. Others opened to a passage focusing on a generational curse. While still others read a verse on incest in the family. One girl indicated the story of Jacob and Esau. Her twin brother was murdered at three months of age. She was the second to be born and like Jacob became the first through infanticide. Others have indicated a need for greater humility, faith and fasting. The Rite of Exorcism uses passages from John. 1:1-14; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 1:17-20; Luke 11:14-22; also use what ever passage the Holy Spirit inspires. This can hasten along deliverance and yield many crucial answers to the puzzle. It is always good to have on hand a collection of prayers that may be said both by the exorcist and those assisting. The Raccolta has a fine collection, as do other prayer books.

The rules for exorcism state that one should have relics of the saints at hand. Not all relics are of equal worth. First class relics are to be preferred. The greater the sanctity of the saint the more powerful the cure. One can tell by the reactions of the demons which relic gives better results.

According to the Act of the Apostles, handkerchiefs that were touched to Saint Paul and carried back to the sick curing them (remember the sick woman who was cured by touching the hem of Jesus?). The shadow alone of Saint Peter healed many. Although the Blessed Sacrament is the Body and Blood of Jesus, True God and True Man, and not any mere sacramental, it is an excellent practice to use it to bless the sick and possessed. The rules of exorcism in number 13 of the Roman Ritual states, “Sanctissima vero Eucharistia super caput obssessi, aut aliter ejus corpori ne admoveatur, ob irreverentiae periculum” (The Blessed Sacrament should not be placed on the head or any other part of the body of the possessed persons, due to the possibility of desecration). This rule or admonition need not apply in those cases where there is no danger or irreverence, that is cases in which the person’s actions are nonviolent.

It is truly astounding to observe how many days (when proper use of the Blessed Sacrament is applied to the body of the possessed), can be taken off the whole length of time needed to dislodge the demons. It shortens the process. It may be wise in other cases for the priest himself to carry around his neck the Blessed Sacrament in a Pyx. This may prove at times, necessary for protection.

A Franciscan named Father Dominic Szymanski (a one time companion of St. Maximillian Kolbe) was working with a Benedictine priest, when Fr. Dominic asked the Benedictine if he was wearing the medal of St. Benedict. The Benedictine responded, “Yes, I am.” Father Szymanski told him that he saw the devil in the form of a blue light going around him in circles, and that the evil spirit was unable to touch him because he was wearing the medal.

The St. Benedict medal can be pinned to the clothes of infants who are agitated, pregnant mothers or anyone who wants protection from evil. The use of the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Rosary are two sacramentals specifically mentioned in the Vatican II document on the church “Lumen Gentium.” The blessing of the rosary states, “Nos eriperes de potestate diaboli” Our Lord Jesus Christ through His life, death and resurrection has “snatched us from the power of the devil.” Abundant graces are granted through proper recitation of the rosary, “Ab omni hoste visibili et invisibili et ubíque in hoc sáeculo liberetur” (from every enemy both visible and invisible and everywhere in this lifetime be freed). St. Dominic freed a heretic from 15,000 devils, when the man had blasphemed the Blessed Mother and the Rosary. St. Dominic preached on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary and asked the faithful to pray and meditate. For every mystery, 1,000 demons left him in the form of burning coals until he was delivered. The rosary is the chain that Our Lady uses to bind Satan. It is often seen in a possessed individual, that the demon is irritated and they complain that the rosary burns them and they often destroy the rosary.

Another medal of great importance which was used in the conversion of the worldly Jew, Alphonse Ratisbone, propagated by St. Maximillian Kolbe, and used by the founder of the Legion of Mary-Frank Duff, is the Miraculous Medal (Medal of the Immaculate Conception of Mary).



While placing the medal around the neck, the Presider prays, “Ut piisima et Immaculáta caelórum Domina vos prótegat atique defendat” (May the Holy and Immaculate heavenly Lady protect and defend you). Our Lady promises special graces to those who wear this medal around their neck. The same is true for the scapular. If worn with faith, “They shall not suffer the eternal flames of Hell” and “shall be delivered from Purgatory on the Saturday after their death.”

Then there is the crucifix, which should always be present. The victim will often stare at the cross and be forced to look away. The cross is symbolic of the defeat of Satan through the death of Christ. The long prayer for Solemn Blessing of the Crucifix, “Ut quóties triúmphum divínae humnilitátis, quae supérbiam nostri hostis dejecit” and (how often the divine humility has triumphed casting out the pride of our enemy). “Dignáre respícere, bene + dícere et Sancti + ficáre hanc creaturm incensi, ut omnes languores, omnesque imfirmitates, atque insidiar inimici, odorem ejus sentientes, efffugiant, et separatur a plasmate tuo; ut num quam lædatur amorsu antiqui serpentes” (Deign to care for bless and sanctify those being inflamed by passion and weakness, any sickness, deceits of the foe and suspicious resentments felt by them. Be cast out and driven away from your creature) and “Numquam lædatur a morsu antiqui derpentis” (Never to be hurt by the bite of the ancient serpent).


The following are selected paragraphs pertaining to the instruction of the Exorcist as indicated in the Old Rite – Rules of the Roman Ritual of Exorcism.

(RULE 1)The priest who with the particular and explicit permission of his Bishop is about to exorcise those tormented by Evil Spirit, must have the necessary piety, prudence and personal integrity. He should perform this most heroic work humbly and courageously, not relying on his own strength, but on the power of God; and he must have no greed for material benefit. Besides, he should be of mature age and be respected as a virtuous person.

(RULE 5) Let the exorcist note for himself the tricks and deceits which evil spirits use in order to lead him astray. For they are accustomed to answering falsely. They manifest themselves only under pressure–in the hope that the exorcist will get tired and desist from pressuring them. Or they make it appear that the subject of Exorcism is not possessed at all.

(RULE 6) Sometimes, Evil Spirit betrays its presence, and then goes into hiding. It appears to have left the body of the possessed free from all molestation, so that the possessed thinks he is completely rid of it. But the exorcist should not, for all that, desist until he sees the signs of liberation.

(RULE 10) The Exorcist must remember, therefore, that Our Lord said there is a species of Evil Spirit which cannot be expelled except by prayer and fasting. Let him make sure that he and others follow the example of the Holy Fathers and make use of these two principal means of obtaining divine help and of repelling Evil Spirit.

(RULE 20) During Exorcism, the exorcist should use the words of the Bible rather than his own or somebody else’s. Also, he should command Evil Spirit to state whether it is kept within the possessed because of some magical spell or sorcerer’s symbol or some occult documents. For the exorcism to succeed, the possessed must surrender them. If he has swallowed something like that, he will vomit it up. If it is outside his body in some place or other, Evil Spirit must tell the exorcist where it is. When the exorcist finds it, he must burn it.

In order for Satan to be driven out of the possessed, the exorcist must be humble. He must rely on God and only God for his answers and direction. Sometimes God forces the demon inside the possessed to reveal truths. However, the exorcist must be careful not to believe all that the demon possessing the victim might say. The demon will reveal exactly what the exorcist wants to hear even though it is not the truth, in order to side track him. The exorcist, out of his own curiosity, should not ask questions to the possessed regarding matters other than the exorcism at hand. Only through much prayer, fasting and humility of the exorcist along with the willingness of the victim, and of course, the grace and Will of God, can one be freed of this affliction.


The Laity and Deliverance

By L. Margoni


Today solemn exorcism is limited to the priest who prays in the name of the church. There are three requirements in order for this rite to be performed; the person must be possessed, a priest must perform the exorcism, and finally an exorcism could only be performed with the permission of the bishop (see signs of possession).

With private exorcism a lay-person or religious can pray in his/her own name (not in the name of the church). What this means is the laity cannot use the Roman Ritual of Exorcism to pray in the name of the church.




Evil spirits enter us through many ways as indicated in the examples below.

Innocent Victim:

In some cases, evil spirits enter an innocent victim. The victim may be an unborn baby who is cursed from the mother’s womb. The curse can be from a jealous relative, friend, enemy, or even the child’s own parents.

Innocent victims may also include children who are not loved, who are mistreated or abused or rejection by other children, siblings, parents, etc. The abuse can range from sexual abuse, mental abuse, or physical abuse.

Those who Choose Evil:

In other cases, an evil spirit may enter us because of involvement in evil practices such as the occult. The occult is any practice that involves ceremonies, rituals, chants, magic, or activities that are obviously not God centered. These activities or rituals can change the course of nature, the lives of those who are involved in such practices, and of course, the innocent victims.

-The Ouija board is a popular occult board game and there is also Dungeons and Dragons. Satan’s main target in Dungeons and Dragons game is our youth. With Dungeons and Dragons, the most powerful and successful players are those who use magic. There is a Dungeons Master Guide that even teaches new beginners how to communicate with the dead, cast spells, and learn to chant.

The use of magic revolves around evil spirits, psychic abilities and contacting spirits. Magic is a power that does not involve God. It is a power that is derived from such things as voodoo, sorcery, primitive religions and Satanism. Most witches who use magic swear that they do not worship Satan but worship the gods and goddesses of nature (The gods and goddesses of nature are hardly Jesus Christ! Of course they worship Satan! Do not let someone who practices this occult tell you otherwise!). Many of these individuals are unknown because they blend in quite well. They can be found attending church services in every denomination and they practice their magic on the side. If someone tells you white magic is ok, don’t believe them!!

Use of new age tools such as crystals, divination, astrology, tarot cards, crystal balls, reincarnation, pendulums, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation

-Those who make a pact with Satan or attend Satanic services or rituals.

-Going to séances, fortune tellers, Horoscopes, or spiritualist meetings for the purpose of contact the dead.

-Those who use alcohol or mind changing drugs such as LSD, cocaine, marijuana

-Sex out of wedlock, active homosexuals, masturbation, adultery

-Those who have an abortion

-Those who try to commit suicidal or have suicidal tendencies.



You can renounce a spirit through personal deliverance prayers but in order for you to achieve freedom you must be spiritually prepared by making a commitment to God. You must stop any sinful acts (see Ten Commandments) and confess your sins. Before you can renounce evil in your life you must want to change and follow God where ever he leads you.

It is very important to have a guide to follow that is why we highly recommend Neal Lozano’s book “UNBOUND”. Neal will walk you through the steps to finding freedom. “UNBOUND” can be purchased at Neal’s website or on Amazon.

Neal suggests that you find someone with experience to pray with you for deliverance. If there is no one to help you with deliverance prayers then you can apply what you have learned from Neal’s book and say deliverance prayers for yourself.

If you cannot afford the book (@ $12.00) there are steps you can take on your own but they may not be as effective without the proper training necessary to know what spirit is behind your affliction. That is why we recommend Neal’s book.

We will briefly go over Neal’s five keys with our own summary. Reflect on these keys. Start at the beginning of your life while you were in your mother’s womb (see Prayer Ninth Months from the Mothers Womb). Move on next to your infancy, childhood, teenage years, adult life.


1) Repentance and Faith

If you do not already have a relationship with God you must start one. Pray and ask God to enter your life (see finding God).

Lord please forgive me for ______
Lord I am sorry for____


2) Forgiveness

To forgive another is a very difficult task and because of this fact, many people choose not to forgive. Unforgiveness is death to the soul and this death is reflected in the lives of those who are unforgiving.


When we are unforgiving we store up hatred and revenge and this is what makes us unhappy, depressed, filled with anxiety, full of self-hatred, loneliness, hatred and unkindness towards others, the inability to love, and finally, we are unpleasant to be around. Forgiveness is a very important part of healing and deliverance. If you are having difficulty in forgiving someone go straight to God and ask Him for help. It is good to cry and let the hurt out. Ask God to replace the hurt with His love. Ask Him to help you to forgive.

In the name of Jesus I forgive_____ for________ (be specific)


3) Renouncing the works of your enemies

When you renounce a troubled area of your live (example: I renounce the spirit of FEAR) you are giving up the power Satan has over you. You are the one in charge and you are the one who wants the evil influence to leave.

Neal tells us that renunciation does three things:

a) Identifies the lie and the power behind the lie
b) Breaks the power
c) Gives us personal responsibility (we are telling the evil we have had enough and want it to leave.


I renounce every physical and sexual tie with____ and I take back the authority I gave him or her (or what he/she took from me)

I renounce my addiction to drugs
I renounce the spirit of fear that entered me when I was raped.


4) Standing in the authority you have in Christ

As Neal states in his book, “We have been given authority in His name to advance the Kingdom of God. We can exercise this authority over evil spirits as we serve Him, is our own lives.

Mark 16:17-18 – “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

In the name of Jesus I break the power of every spirit that (person or self) have renounced, and I command them to go right now.


5) Receiving God’s blessing of your identity and destiny

Satan’s plan is for you to be miserable your whole life and to hate God. As Neal states in his book: “At the heart of Satan’s attack upon you is his attempt to rob you of your true identity and destiny. Satan will do anything he can to keep you from knowing God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

An example prayer from “Unbound”:

My Father, thank You for sending Jesus and showing me the way home to You.
I have opened myself to You. My life is hidden in Christ. Please bless my life. As I identify with Christ, I, too, can hear Your words spoken over me: “You are my son/daughter, whom I love: with you I am well pleased.” In Christ I receive this blessing–and every spiritual blessing You have for me. Thank You, Father, for knitting me together in my mother’s womb, for calling me by name and for having a special plan for my future.
Your works are wonderful!


Finding Help

By L. Margoni

We receive e-mails at this site from all over the world. The majority of the e-mails are from people who are in some sort of bondage to Satan or have friends or family members who are suffering. Many of the requests we receive are from people in search of an exorcist living close to them. We are often asked if we can help locate or recommend an exorcist. We do not have a list of exorcists. There is a good chance that those individuals seeking an exorcist do not need one. In most cases these individuals need deliverance prayers. Deliverance prayers do not require an Exorcist.

If you are searching for someone to pray deliverance prayers with you and you are Catholic, you may find help in a Catholic Charismatic prayer group. If you are non-Catholic you may find help at a Pentecostal or Assemblies of God prayer group. If you live in the Philadelphia area you may contact Heart of the Father Ministries led by Neal Lozano by email at We highly recommend you read Neal’s book “Unbound” (can be purchased at or at Neal’s site. Neal’s speaking engagements and conferences can also be found on his website.



If you are seeking help, you must first start by ridding yourself of those things that prevent God from working in your life. In most cases, the bondage we are in is due to the lifestyle we live. God gave us the Commandments because He loves us and He wants us to be with Him in heaven one day. If you do not follow the commandments that God established then there is only one other rule to follow – the self-destructing rule of Satan.

When you do not live by God’s rules the door is wide open for Satan to enter into your life. Are you willing to change your lifestyle? If you are willing to change there is hope for you. If you are not willing to change you may never find help. Reflect on the questions below. Do not become alarmed if many of these questions pertain to you. Confess your sins and work at eliminating them from your life. Ask God for help.

  • Do you give God time in prayer everyday?
  • Are you involved with the occult, horoscopes, séances, Ouija Board, Dungeon’s and Dragons?
  • Have you mocked God, use his name in vain?
  • Do you wish harm to come to someone who has hurt you or who has annoyed you?
  • Do you read books or see movies that are anti-God or occult oriented?
  • Are you involved with new age practices such as yoga, crystals, Transcendental Meditation
  • Do you go to church every Sunday? Do you neglect church so that you can participate in a sports related activity or so that you can sleep-in? Where are your priorities? Are they God centered or “ME” centered?
  • Is your lifestyle not of God? Do you have sex out of marriage, are you committing adultery, do you approve of abortions?
  • Are you an active homosexual? Do you masturbate? Do you fantasize about sex? Are your thoughts chaste? Do you read romance novels?
  • Do you dress modestly so as not to arouse the opposite sex?
  • Do you steal? Stealing can also be sharing copyright materials whether they are Movies, music CDs, software, etc.
  • Do you lie to get out of jams? Do you find pleasure in saying negative things about people or do you speak about them behind their back?
  • Are you jealous of what other people have? Are you greedy and selfish?
  • Do you trust in God or do you trust instead in the material world around us?

Help for Family and Friends

Many people are concerned for friends and family members and want to find them help (which is a pious thing to do). The big problem is that the majority of your friends and family members do not want help. They are very comfortable in their lifestyles and in most cases there is not any room for God. Freedom cannot be found for those who do not want help. The best course of action is to pray. Have as many people you know pray so that they may be converted. Send us your prayer request and we will pray for your friends and loved ones everyday


What Are Ghosts?

From “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven”, by Dr. Peter Kreeft (Ignatius Press, 1990).

“Without our action or invitation, the dead often do appear to the living. There is enormous evidence of ‘ghosts’ in all cultures … We can distinguish three kinds of ghosts, I believe. First, the most familiar kind: the sad ones, the wispy ones. They seem to be working out some unfinished earthly business, or suffering some purgatorial purification until released from their earthly business. These ghosts would seem to be the ones who just barely made it to Purgatory, who feel little or no joy yet and who need to learn many painful lessons about their past life on earth.”



“Second, there are malicious and deceptive spirits – and since they are deceptive, they hardly ever appear malicious. These are probably the ones who respond to conjurings at séances. They probably come from Hell. Even the chance of that happening should be sufficient to terrify away all temptations to necromancy.”

“Third, there are bright, happy spirits of dead friends and family, especially spouses, who appear unbidden, at God’s will, not ours, with messages of hope and love. They seem to come from Heaven. Unlike the purgatorial ghosts who come back primarily for their own sakes, these bright spirits come back for the sake of us the living, to tell us all is well. They are aped by evil spirits who say the same, who speak ‘peace, peace, when there is no peace’. But the deception works only one way: the fake can deceive by appearing genuine, but the genuine never deceives by appearing fake. Heavenly spirits always convince us that they are genuinely good. Even the bright spirits appear ghostlike to us because a ghost of any type is one whose substance does not belong in or come from this world. In Heaven these spirits are not ghosts but real, solid and substantial because they are at home there: One can’t be a ghost in one’s own country.”

“That there are all three kinds of ghosts is enormously likely. Even taking into account our penchant to deceive and be deceived, our credulity and fakery, there remain so many trustworthy accounts of all three types of ghosts – trustworthy by every ordinary empirical and psychological standard – that only a dogmatic prejudice against them could prevent us from believing they exist. As Chesterton says, ‘We believe an old apple woman when she says she ate an apple; but when she says she saw a ghost, we say ‘But she’s only an old apple woman.’ A most undemocratic and unscientific prejudice.”


Angels and Demons – Facts not Fiction

By Father John Corapi

There have been a number of television shows, movies and various articles on the subject of angels and the demonic in recent years. Most of this material is pure fiction, yet the part that is not fiction is an acknowledgment that they both exist.

As part of the church’s catechesis on creation it is necessary to speak of both the angels and the devil, Satan, or the demonic. “The Apostles’ Creed professes that God is the ‘Creator of heaven and earth.’ The Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes ‘all that is, seen and unseen” (Catechism #325).

“The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body” (#327).

The Catechism clearly asserts that “the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of the faith” (#328), the witness of Scripture being as unanimous as tradition. In other words, there is no question about it: the angels are real, not the figment of someone’s medieval imagination. It is a truth of the faith. This quite simply means that for a Catholic, one must accept this as part of God’s revelation. One may not understand it, but one must accept it on faith, and then seek the understanding that faith can ultimately bring. Although, it being understood, that we’ll never understand in this life God and all his mighty works perfectly. We would have to be God to understand him perfectly.

The angels are creatures, pure spiritual beings whose mission or office is to be messengers and servants of God (#329). “As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, [with the exception of the Mother of God] as the splendor of their glory bears witness” (#330).

The Lord Jesus Christ is the author, center, and end of all creation including the angelic world. They are “his angels.” As the Catechism teaches, “they belong to him because they were created through and for him…They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan” (#331).

The existence and activity of the angels is more than obvious in both the Old and New Testaments. To say, by the way, that they are mere “literary figures” in Scripture in the name of so-called biblical scholarship is an affront to and an attack upon true scholarship. All Scripture has to be read as a totality, in the light of tradition, and applying the analogy of faith. When this is done it is clear that the church’s teaching is constant in that angels are real beings, not mere literary devices. They have played a key role in salvation history:

“Angels have been present since creation…They closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law…led the People of God; announced birth’s and callings; assisted the prophets…; the Angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself (#332).

“From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels … [They announced his birth to the poor shepherds] …they protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden…



It is the angels who evangelize’ by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection. They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment (# 333).

These events wherein the angels exercised their ministry as messengers and servants of the Lord are real, as the church asserts. The entire life of the church, the mystical body of Christ, is likewise aided and benefited by the mysterious and powerful help of the angels (#334).

In addition, each and every person benefits from the ministry of the angels. The church has long taught that we have a “guardian angel” to guide and protect us through life. “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels’) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

The existence and malevolent activity of the devil or Satan and the fallen angels or demons is likewise a teaching of the church that must be accepted by all. “The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing (#391).

Through the misuse of the gifts of intellect and free will the devil (Lucifer) and those who went his way chose irrevocably to reject God and his reign. Their choice is irrevocable because of their higher nature. Men get a second chance, and many more than that, but the angels clearly saw what they were doing. Hence, “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death” (#393).

Christ came to cast out the evil one and his works of lying and death, and did so through the humble obedience which led him always to accept the Father’s will, even unto the death of the cross. The essence of the diabolic is that pride and arrogance which leads to disobedience. This leads to fracturing and division. Stepping outside of the truth who is God himself results in this division.

Those who are most powerful in Christ through his church, which is called to fight against “the liar and father of lies, the murderer from the beginning” (cf. John 8:42f) (the devil), are those who are most humbly obedient to God’s authority working through the church. The devil can do nothing when he comes up against those who obey most humbly Christ’s church and her teachings. On the other hand, he is most powerful and untiringly active working through those who imagine themselves to be above the church’s teaching authority. Humility leads to obedience, which leads to life. Pride leads to disobedience, which leads to death. This is the lesson of the book of Genesis. It is the lesson of the cross.

With the angels of the Lord we humbly and obediently praise and give thanks to the Father through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit for all that God’s creative and redemptive power has wrought.


See the article
“NECROMANCY AND SPIRITISM” at this ministry’s web site.




By Father Michael Müller, C.S.S.R.

It is indeed a remarkable fact that, as the devil made use of Luther, an apostate-monk, to abolish the Mass and deny the real presence, in like manner God made use of his arch-enemy, the devil, to prove the real presence. He repeatedly forced him publicly to profess his firm belief in it, to confound the heretics for their disbelief, and acknowledge himself vanquished by Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. For this purpose God allowed a certain Mme. Nicola Aubrey, an innocent person, to become possessed by Beelzebub and twenty-nine other evil spirits. The possession took place on the eighth of November, 1565, and lasted until the eighth of February, 1566.
Her parents took her to Father de Motta, a pious priest of Vervins, in order that he might expel the demon by exorcisms of the Church. Father de Motta tried several times to expel the evil spirit by applying the sacred relics of the holy cross, but he could not succeed; Satan would not depart. At last, inspired by the Holy Ghost, he resolved to expel the devil by means of the sacrament of Our Lord’s body and blood. Whilst Nicola was lying in a state of unnatural lethargy, Father de Motta placed the Blessed Sacrament upon her lips, and instantly the infernal spell was broken; Nicola was restored to consciousness, and received Holy Communion with every mark of devotion. As soon as Nicola had received the sacred body of Our Lord, her face became bright and beautiful as the face of an angel, and all who saw her were filled with joy and wonder, and they blessed God from their inmost hearts.

With the permission of God, Satan returned and again took possession of Nicola.
As the strange circumstances of Nicola’s possession became known everywhere, several Calvinist preachers came with their followers, to “expose this popish cheat,” as they said. On their entrance, the devil saluted them mockingly, called them by name, and told them that they had come in obedience to him. One of the preachers took his Protestant prayer-book, and began to read it with a very solemn face.



The devil laughed at him, and, putting on a most comical look, he said: “Ho! Ho! My good friend; do you intend to expel me with your prayers and hymns? Do you think that they will cause me any pain? Don’t you know that they are mine? I helped to compose them!”
“I will expel thee in the name of God,” said the preacher, solemnly.
“You!” said the devil, mockingly. “You will not expel me either in the name of God, or in the name of the devil. Did you ever hear of one devil driving out another?”
“I am not a devil,” said the preacher, angrily, “I am a servant of Christ.”
“A servant of Christ, indeed!” said Satan, with a sneer. “What! I tell you you are worse than I am. I believe, and you do not want to believe. Do you suppose that you can expel me from the body of this miserable wretch? Ha! Go first and expel all the devils that are in your own heart!”
The preacher took his leave, somewhat discomfited. On going away, he said, turning up the whites of his eyes, “O Lord, I pray thee, assist this poor creature!”
“And I pray Lucifer,” cried the evil spirit, “that he may never leave you, but may always keep you firmly in his power, as he does now. Go about your business, now. You are all mine, and I am your master.”

On the arrival of the priest, several of the Protestants went away – they had seen and heard more than they wanted. Others, however, remained; and great was their terror when they saw how the devil writhed and howled in agony, as soon as the Blessed Sacrament was brought near him. At last the evil spirit departed, leaving Nicola in a state of unnatural trance. While she was in this state, several of the preachers tried to open her eyes, but they found it impossible to do so. The priest then placed the Blessed Sacrament on Nicola’s lips, and instantly she was restored to consciousness.
Rev. Father de Motta then turned to the astonished preachers, and said: “Go now, ye preachers of the new Gospel; go and relate everywhere what you have seen and heard. Do not deny any longer that Our Lord Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. Go now, and let not human respect hinder you from confessing the truth.”

During the exorcisms of the following days, the devil was forced to confess that he was not to be expelled at Vervins, and that he had with him twenty-nine devils, among whom were three powerful demons: Cerberus, Astaroth, and Legio.
On the third of January, 1556, the bishop arrived at Vervins, and began the exorcism in the church, in the presence of an immense multitude. “I command thee, in the name and by power of the real presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, to depart instantly,” said the bishop to Satan in a solemn voice.
Satan was, at last, expelled the second time by means of the Blessed Sacrament. On leaving, he paralyzed the left arm and right foot of Nicola, and also made her left arm longer than her right; and no power on earth could cure this strange infirmity, until some weeks after, when the devil was at last completely and irrevocably expelled.
Nicola was now taken to the celebrated pilgrimage of Our Lady at Liesse, especially since the devil seemed to fear that place so much.
Next day Father de Motta began the exorcism in the church of Our Lady at Liesse, in presence of an immense multitude.

He took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and, showing it to the demon, he said: “I command thee, in the name of the living God, the great Emmanuel Whom thou seest here present, and in Whom thou believest.”
“Ah, yes!” shrieked the demon, “I believe in Him.” And the devil howled again as he made this confession, for it was wrung from him by the power of Almighty God.
“I command thee, then, in His Name,” said the priest, “to quit this body instantly.”
At these words, and especially at the sight of the Blessed Sacrament, the devil suffered the most frightful torture. At one moment the body of Nicola was rolled up like a ball; then again she became fearfully swollen. At one time her face was unnaturally lengthened, then excessively widened, and sometimes it was as red as scarlet. Her eyes, at times, protruded horribly, and then again sunk deeply into her skull. Her tongue hung down to her chin; it was sometimes black, sometimes red, and sometimes spotted like a toad.
The priest still continued to urge and torture Satan. “Accursed spirit!” he cried, “I command thee, in the Name and by the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ here in the Blessed Sacrament, to depart instantly from the body of this poor creature.” “Ah, yes!” cried Satan, howling wildly, “twenty-six of my companions shall leave this instant, for they are forced to do so.”

The people in the church now began to pray with great fervor. Suddenly Nicola’s limbs began to crack, as if every bone in her body were breaking, a pestilential vapor came forth from her mouth, and twenty-six devils departed from her, never more to return.

Nicola then fell into an unnatural swoon, from which she was aroused only by the Blessed Sacrament. On recovering her senses, and receiving Holy Communion, Nicola’s face shone like the face of an angel.
The priest still continued to urge the demon, and used every means to expel him.
“I will not leave, unless commanded by the bishop of Laon,” answered the demon, angrily.
Nicola was now taken to Pierrepont, where one of the demons, named Legio, was expelled by means of the Blessed Sacrament. Next morning Nicola was brought to the church. Scarcely had she quitted the house, when the devil again took possession of her. The bishop who was requested to exorcise Nicola prepared himself for this terrible task by prayer and fasting, and other works of penance.
On arrival of Nicola in the Church, the exorcism began. “How many are you in this body?” asked the bishop.
“There are three of us,” answered the evil spirit.
“What are your names?”
“Beelzebub, Cerberus, and Astaroth.”
“What has become of the others?” asked the bishop.
“They have been expelled,” answered Satan.
“Who expelled them?”
“Ha!” cried the devil, gnashing his teeth, “it was He whom you hold in your hand, there on the paten.” The devil meant our dear Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
The bishop then held the Blessed Sacrament near the face of Nicola. The demon writhed and howled in agony. “Ah, yes! I will go, I will go!” he shrieked, “but I shall return.”
Suddenly Nicola became stiff and motionless as marble. The bishop then touched her lips with the Blessed Sacrament, and in an instant she was fully restored to consciousness. She received Holy Communion, and her countenance now shone with a wondrous, supernatural beauty.
Next day Nicola was brought again to the Church, and the exorcism began as usual.
The bishop took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, held it near the face of Nicola, and said:
“I command thee in the name of the living God, and by the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ here in the sacrament of the altar, to depart instantly from the body of this creature of God, and never more to return.”
“No! No!” shrieked the devil, “I will not go. My hour is not yet come.”
“I command thee to depart, Go forth, impure, accursed spirit! Go forth!” and the bishop held the Blessed Sacrament close to Nicola’s face.
“Stop! stop!” shrieked Satan; “let me go! I will depart – but I shall return.” And instantly Nicola fell into the most frightful convulsions. A black smoke was seen issuing from her mouth, and she fell again into a swoon.
During her stay in Leon, Nicola was carefully examined by Catholic and Protestant physicians. Her left arm, which had been paralyzed by the devil, was found entirely without feeling. The doctors cut into the arm with a sharp knife, they burnt it with fire, they drove pins and needles under the nails of the fingers, but Nicola felt no pain; her arm was utterly insensible. Once, while Nicola was lying in a state of unnatural lethargy, the doctors gave her some bread soaked in wine, (it was what the Protestants call their communion, or Lord’s Supper,) they rubbed her limbs briskly, they threw water in her face, they pierced her tongue till the blood flowed; they tried every possible means to arouse her, but in vain! Nicola remained cold and motionless as marble. At last the priest touched the lips of Nicola with the Blessed Sacrament, and instantly she was restored to consciousness, and began to praise God.
The miracle was so clear, so palpable, that one of the doctors, who was a bigoted Calvinist, immediately renounced his errors, and became a Catholic.
Several times, also, the Protestants touched Nicola’s face with a host which was not consecrated, and which, consequently, was only bread, but Satan was not in the least tormented by this. He only ridiculed their efforts.
On the twenty-seventh of January, the bishop, after having walked in solemn procession with the clergy and the faithful, began the exorcism in church, in presence of a vast multitude of Protestants and Catholics.
The bishop now held the Blessed Sacrament close to the face of Nicola. Suddenly a wild, unearthly yell rings through the air – a black, heavy smoke issues from the mouth of Nicola. The demon Astaroth is expelled forever.
During the exorcism which took place on the first of February, the bishop said:
“O accursed spirit! Since neither prayer, nor the holy gospels, neither the exorcisms of the Church, nor the holy relics, can compel thee to depart, I will now show thee thy Lord and Master, and by His power I command thee.”
During the exorcism, which took place after Mass, the bishop held the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and said: “O accursed spirit, arch-enemy of the ever-blessed God! I command thee, by the precious blood of Jesus Christ here present, to depart from this poor woman! Depart accursed, into the everlasting flames of hell!”

At these words, and especially at the sight of the Blessed Sacrament, the demon was so fearfully tormented, and the appearance of Nicola was so hideous and revolting, that the people turned away their eyes in horror.



At last a heavy sigh was heard, and a cloud of black smoke issued from the mouth of Nicola. Cerberus was expelled. Again Nicola fell into a death-like swoon, and again she was brought to consciousness only by means of the Blessed Sacrament.
During the exorcism which took place on the seventh day of February, the bishop said to Satan:
“Tell me, why hast thou taken possession of this honest and virtuous Catholic woman!”
“I have done so by permission of God. I have taken possession of her on account of the sins of the people. I have done it to show my Calvinists that there are devils who can take possession of man whenever God permits it. I know they do not want to believe this; but I will show them that I am the devil. I have taken possession of this creature in order to convert them, or to harden them in their sins; and, by the sacred blood, I will perform my task.”
This answer filled all who heard it with horror. “Yes,” answered the bishop, solemnly, “God desires to unite all men in the only holy faith. As there is but one God, so there can be but one true religion. A religion like that which the Protestants have invented, is but a hollow mockery. It must fall. The religion established by Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only true one; it alone shall last forever. It is destined to unite all men within its sacred embrace, so that there shall be but one sheep-fold and one shepherd. This divine Shepherd is Our Lord Jesus Christ, the invisible head of the holy Roman Catholic Church, whose visible head is our Holy Father the Pope, successor of St. Peter.”
The devil was silent – he was put to shame before the entire multitude. He was expelled once more by means of the Blessed Sacrament.
In the afternoon of the same day the devil began to cry: “Ah! Ha! You think that you can expel me in this way. You have not the proper attendance of a bishop. Where are the dean and the archdean? Where are the royal judges? Where is the chief magistrate, who was frightened out of his wits that night, in the prison? Where is the procurator of the king? Where are his attorneys and counsellors? Where is the clerk of the court?” (The devil mentioned each of these by name.) “I will not depart until all are assembled. Were I to depart now, what proof could you give to the king of all that has happened? Do you think that people will believe you so easily? No! No! There are many who would make objections. The testimony of these common country-people here will have but little weight. It is a torment to me that I must tell you what you have to do. I am forced to do it. Ha! Cursed be the hour in which I first took possession of this vile wretch.”
“I find little pleasure in thy prating,” answered the bishop; there are witnesses enough here. Those whom you have mentioned are not necessary. Depart! then; give glory to God. Depart – go to the flames of hell!”
“Yes, I shall depart, but not to-day. I know full well that I must depart. My sentence is passed; I am compelled to leave.”
“I care not for thy jabbering,” said the bishop, “I shall expel thee by the power of God: by the precious blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Yes, I must yield to you,” shrieked the demon wildly. “It tortures me that I must give you this honor.”
The bishop now took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and held it close to the face of the possessed woman.
At last, Satan was compelled to flee once more.
The next morning, after the procession was ended, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered up as usual.
During the consecration, the possessed woman was twice raised over six feet into the air, and then fell back heavily upon the platform. As the bishop, just before the Pater Noster, took the sacred host once more in his hand, and raised it with the chalice, the possessed woman was again whisked into the air, carrying with her the keepers, fifteen in number, at least six feet above the platform; and, after a while, she fell heavily back on the ground. At this sight, all present were filled with amazement and terror. A German Protestant named Voske fell on his knees; he burst into tears; he was converted.
“Ah!” cried he, “I now believe firmly that the devil really possesses this poor creature. I believe that it is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ which expels him. I believe firmly. I will no longer remain a Protestant.”
After Mass, the exorcism began as usual.
“Now, at last,” said the bishop, “thou must depart. Away with thee, evil spirit!”
“Yes,” said Satan, “it is true that I must depart, but not yet. I will not go before the hour is come in which I first took possession of this wretched creature.”
At last the bishop took the sacred host in his hand, and said: “In the name of the adorable Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – in the name of the sacred body of Jesus Christ here present – I command thee, wicked spirit, to depart.”
“Yes, yes, it is true!” shrieked the demon wildly; “it is true. It is the body of God. I must confess it, for I am forced to do so. Ha! It tortures me that I must confess this; but I must. I speak the truth only when I am forced to do it. The truth is not from me. It comes from my Lord and Master. I have entered this body by the permission of God.”

The bishop now held the Blessed Sacrament close to the face of the possessed woman. The demon writhed in fearful agony. He tried in every way to escape from the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. At length a black smoke was seen issuing from the mouth of Nicola. She fell into a swoon, and was restored again to consciousness only by means of the Blessed Sacrament.
The eighth of February, the day appointed by God on which Satan was to leave Nicola forever, arrived at last. After the solemn procession, the bishop began the last exorcism.
“I shall not ask thee any longer,” said the bishop to Satan, “when thou intendest to leave; I will expel thee instantly by the power of the living God, and by the precious body and blood of Jesus Christ, His beloved Son, here present in the Sacrament of the Altar.”
“Ha, yes!” shrieked the demon; “I confess that the Son of God is here really and truly present. He is my Lord and Master. It tortures me to confess it, but I am forced to do so.” Then he repeated several times, with a wild, unearthly howl: “Yes, it is true. I must confess it. I am forced to leave, by the power of God’s body here present. I must – I must depart. It torments me that I must go so soon, and that I must confess this truth. But this truth is not from me; it comes from my Lord and Master, who has sent me hither, and who commands and compels me to confess the truth publicly.”
The bishop then took the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, and, holding it on high, he said, with a solemn voice: “O thou wicked, unclean spirit, Beelzebub! Thou arch-enemy of the eternal God! Behold, here present, the precious body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Lord and Master! I adjure thee, in the name and by the power of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who is here present; I command thee to depart instantly and forever from this creature of God. Depart to the deepest depth of hell, there to be tormented forever. Go forth, unclean spirit, go forth – behold here thy Lord and Master!”
At these solemn words, and at the sight of our sacramental Lord, the poor possessed woman writhed fearfully. Her limbs cracked as if every bone in her body were breaking. The fifteen strong men who held her, could scarcely keep her back. They staggered from side to side, they were covered with perspiration. Satan tried to escape from the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The mouth of Nicola was wide open, her tongue hung down below her chin, her face was shockingly swollen and distorted. Her color changed from yellow to green, and became even grey and blue, so that she no longer looked like a human being; it was rather the face of a hideous, incarnate demon. All present trembled with terror, especially when they heard the wild cry of the demon, which sounded like the loud roar of a wild bull.
They fell on their knees, and with tears in their eyes, began to cry out: “Jesus, have mercy!”
The bishop continued to urge Satan. At last the evil spirit departed, and Nicola fell back senseless into the arms of her keepers. She still, however, remained shockingly distorted. In this state she was shown to the judges, and to all the people present; she was rolled up like a ball. This bishop now fell on his knees, in order to give her the Blessed Sacrament as usual. But see! Suddenly the demon returns, wild with rage, endeavors to seize the hand of the bishop, and even tries to grasp the Blessed Sacrament itself. The bishop starts back; Nicola is carried into the air and the bishop rises from his knees, trembling with terror and pale as death.
The good bishop takes courage again; he pursues the demon, holding the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, till at length the demon, overcome by the power of Our Lord’s sacred body, goes forth amidst smoke, and lightening, and thunder.
Thus was the demon at length expelled forever, on Friday afternoon, at three o’clock, the same day and hour on which Our Lord triumphed over hell by His ever-blessed death.
Nicola was now completely cured; she could move her left arm with the greatest ease. She fell on her knees, and thanked God, as well as the good bishop, for all he had done for her. The people wept for joy, and sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving in honor of our dear Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
On all sides were heard the exclamations: “Oh, what a great miracle! Oh, thank God that I witnessed it! Who is there now that can doubt of the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar!”
Many a Protestant also said: “I believe now in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament; I have seen with my eyes! I will remain a Calvinist no longer. Accursed be those who have hitherto kept me in error! Oh, now I can understand what a good thing is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!”
A solemn Te Deum was intoned; the organ pealed forth, and the bells rung a merry chime.
The whole city was filled with joy.
This great triumph of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament over Satan occurred in the presence of more than 150,000 people, in the presence of all the ecclesiastical and civil authorities of the city, of Protestants and Catholics alike. I have published a lengthy account of this extraordinary affair in a little volume entitled, “Triumph of the Blessed Sacrament.” These facts are well-authenticated by the accounts published in various languages – French, Italian, Spanish and German, as I have shown on pages 13, 14 and 15 of above-named little volume.

The above was taken from Chapter 5 of the book The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Michael Muller, C.SS.R. (Imprimatur: Archbishop McClosky, New York – 1884); published by TAN Books & Publishers.


2. Exorcism

This exorcism involved a 14 year old boy in 1949, and is the very same one that years later author William Peter Blatty would base his novel “The Exorcist” upon. It is probably one of the most famous cases of demonic possession in modern times.

Below is the actual 1949 newspaper article written by Bill Brinkley of the Washington Post, giving the alleged location of the family as being Mt. Rainier, Maryland. This was the reporter’s second of two articles; the first was written six months earlier.

The true story begins in January of 1949 and involves a 14-year-old boy named Robbie who lived with his parents and grandmother in Cottage City, Maryland. Robbie is very close to his aunt who visits the family frequently from St. Louis, Missouri. She is a medium and sparks Robbie’s interests in this practice, and teaches him how to use the Ouija board.



The aunt dies suddenly in January of 1949; after her death Robbie still continues to use the Ouija board. He begins using it more frequently to communicate with what he believes to be his deceased aunt and other spirits. Strange phenomena begins to occur around January 10, 1949 and Robbie’s personality begins to change drastically and without explanation.

Towards the end of January, the family reports hearing inexplicable noises and voices in the walls whenever the boy is in the house. But when he’d leave, the strange sounds would stop. The boy also became emotionally disturbed and complained that his bed was moving on its own and objects were observed flying across the room, including a picture of Christ which was thrown from a wall.

Seeking first the help of a physician and then a psychiatrist, the boy’s parents were left disappointed. Neither professionals were able to offer any assistance or explanation for what was occurring to the boy. The parents then turned to their Lutheran minister for spiritual guidance, but he also told them there was nothing he could do. Evidently recognizing the presence of something supernatural and very evil, he recommended the family contact the Catholic Church for help. Upon Pastor Schulze’s recommendation, the family contacted Fr. Hughes S.J, a local Catholic priest.


Robbie and his parents visited Father Hughes S.J of St. James Catholic Church in Mt. Rainier. While interviewing Robbie, Father Hughes S.J saw the telephone and other objects in his office move by themselves. Robbie also cast obscene and blasphemous remarks at him in a strange, diabolical voice. The room became eerily frigid. Father Hughes S.J was convinced that Robbie was possessed. After reviewing the facts of the case and the medical evidence, Cardinal O’Boyle authorizes an exorcism.

Robbie is admitted to Georgetown Hospital, where Father Hughes S.J began the ritual of exorcism. The boy became violent, spitting and projectile vomiting. He shouts obscenities and blasphemies at Father Hughes S.J. Although restrained to the bed, Robbie brakes loose and wrenches out a metal spring with which he slashes Father Hughes S.J from his left shoulder to wrist. The wound requires over 100 stitches. Robbie seems calm after this attack, not remembering the ordeal. He is then released and sent home.

One night as Robbie is changing for bed, he screams. A bloody word had been scratched on his chest, “Louis”. His mother asked if this meant, “St. Louis,” and another bloody word appeared, “yes.”

Soon after, the family travels to visit their cousin in St. Louis, Missouri. The same strange phenomena begins to happen. The cousin, a student at St. Louis University, speaks with one of her priest professors, a Father Bishop, S.J., about the situation. Father Bishop S.J. then contacts one of his close friends, Father Bowdern, S.J., the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church.

The two priests and a young Jesuit interview Robbie on March 9, 1949. They noticed scratches on his chest. They hear scraping sounds in the room, and see a large bookcase move and turn around by itself and a stool move across the floor. Robbie’s bed shakes as he lays on it. He shouts blasphemies and obscenities at them also. The priests know without a doubt that they are in the presence of evil.

They petitioned Cardinal Ritter for permission to perform an exorcism. After reviewing all of the evidence including medical and psychiatric exams, he grants permission on March 16, 1949.

As the priests begin the Rites of Exorcism, Robbie becomes very violent as his bed shakes up and down. On his chest appear bloody scratches with the words hell and devil, and even an image of Satan. Robbie spits at the priests with incredible accuracy as he shouts more obscenities and blasphemies, with intermittent fiendish laughter. At this point the demon announces to the exorcists that it will not leave until the boy speaks two particular words, and it states and it “will never let the boy speak them – ever”.

For his own safety the boy is brought to the Alexian Brothers Hospital and placed in the psychiatric ward. Father Bowdern S.J continues to perform the exorcism. With the family’s consent, Robbie is baptized a Catholic. When Father Bowdern S.J tries to give him First Holy Communion, Robbie five times spits out the Sacred Host; they then paused to say the Rosary, and Robbie finally receives the Holy Eucharist.

On April 18, 1949, Easter Monday, the exorcism comes to a climax. As Father Bowdern continues the ritual, the demon recognizes the presence of St. Michael the Archangel and with the help of the angel the boy is finally able to speak those words that the demon said would never be spoken – “Christus Domini”. With that the demon is finally expelled from Robbie. At this time the sound of a large explosion is heard throughout the hospital. After this whole ordeal, Robbie remembers nothing of the diabolical phenomena, except for the vision of St. Michael.



By Goddy Esuji, Enugu [Nigeria], Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Evangelist Divine Osondu Ike, a member of Charismatic Movement of the Catholic Church in Enugu, wielded enormous powers that raised eyebrows.
He was dis-fellowshipped, a decision that prompted him to go solo. Incidentally, because of Osondu’s power, his home became a Mecca of sort for those seeking one spiritual help or the other.
According to him, “I traveled far and wide delivering people from demonic influences in the exercise of the powers God bestowed upon me. I destroyed charms and prayed for the sick people, who received immediate healing that made me to travel to so many places within Enugu and Anambra states for family deliverance and the Lord was faithful”.
But Osondu, 29, a trader at the Ogbette Main Market, Enugu, could no longer control the gift given to him. As he confessed, “I became the devil’s workshop”. Having abandoned the way of God, he chose instead to serve the devil since he could not achieve his ambition of becoming a worldwide preacher. “The devil started telling me that God was late. My part time business as a building material trader started to dwindle. I started to think how I could make it big in life and people suggested to me to consult certain spirits and oracles, probably to become rich. They suggested places I should go to acquire powers that were unknown to me. However, I found it difficult to be convinced and get myself involved in that kind of practice.
In the midst of the confusion I became frustrated which led me to live a bad life, smoking, womanising and other immoral acts, to the extent that when I wanted to travel I consulted the devil to lead me.
I started telling people that God no longer existed.
They were astonished and wondered why I, who preached the word of God, could start preaching about the devil”, Osondu said.

The Okigwe, Imo State indigene told Daily Sun that he became aware that God still needed his services when, “He revealed himself to me and told me that he was going to use me as a hedge in my family which, before I backslided, was enjoying God’s prosperity. When it became obvious that the devil was using me, problems came from all corners, sickness in the family and my business started to crumble. Many men of God started professing to me that the Lord had something in stock for me, but I was overwhelmed by the devil.
However, it was when the problem became unbearable that I decided to answer the call, since I had the call of evangelism to save my family from further punishment.”
Osondu, who has started his life afresh, preaching the word of God was full of praise to God as according to him, he felt, “like crying for joy and for peace that passes all understanding”. He confessed that his business has picked up and “the Lord has told me to go and pray for my sick father so that he will be healed.
Though I have not traveled to the village where he is, I believe that whenever I go and pray for him, he will be healed. It is because of this situation and the miracle God has done for me that I decided to share my experience with people through the Daily Sun newspaper. I learnt many lessons which made me to know that it is dangerous to backslide and even listen to the devil. There is a saying that if you give the devil a ride, he will like to handle the steering. I tried to give him a ride, before I knew what was happening, he took over the steering and drove me to places he liked.”
The evangelist advised that since “we are in the last generation, the devil is fighting hard to destroy souls. If we will be faithful to God and seek His ways and answer His call, we will make heaven”.





Solennità dei Santi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo Giovedì, 29 giugno 1972

Extract from Pope Paul VI’s homily of June 29, 1972:

“Da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio“.

“It is as if from some mysterious fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”




Pope Paul VI

General audience,
Wednesday, November 15, 1972

What are the Church’s greatest needs at the present time?

Don’t be surprised at Our answer and don’t write it off as simplistic or even superstitious: one of the Church’s greatest needs is to be defended against the evil we call the Devil.
Before clarifying what We mean, We would like to invite you to open your minds to the light that faith casts on the vision of human existence, a vision which from this observation point of faith reaches out to immense distances and penetrates to unique depths. To tell the truth, the picture that we are invited to behold with an all-encompassing realism is a very beautiful one. It is the picture of creation, the work of God. He Himself admired its substantial beauty as an external reflection of His wisdom and power.(1)

Christian vision of the universe
Then there is the interesting picture of the dramatic history of mankind, leading to the history of the Redemption and of Christ; the history of our salvation, with its stupendous treasures of revelation, prophecy and holiness, of life elevated to a supernatural level, of eternal promises.(2) Knowing how to look at this picture cannot help but leave us enchanted.(3) Everything has a meaning, a purpose, an order; and everything gives us a glimpse of a Transcendent Presence, a Thought, a Life and ultimately a Love, so that the universe, both by reason of what it is and of what it is not, offers us an inspiring, joyful preparation for something even more beautiful and more perfect.(4) The Christian vision of the universe and of life is therefore triumphantly optimistic; and this vision fully justifies our joy and gratitude for being alive, so that we sing forth our happiness in celebrating God’s glory.(5)

The mystery of evil
But is this vision complete and correct? Are the defects in the world of no account? What of the things that don’t work properly in our lives? What of suffering and death, wickedness, cruelty and sin? In a word, what of evil? Don’t we see how much evil there is in the world-especially moral evil, which goes against man and against God at one and the same time, although in different ways? Isn’t this a sad spectacle, an unexplainable mystery? And aren’t we-the lovers of the Word, the people who sing of the Good, we believers-aren’t we the ones who are most sensitive and most upset by our observation and experience of evil?
We find evil in the realm of nature, where so many of its expressions seem to speak to us of some sort of disorder. Then we find it among human beings, in the form of weakness, frailty, suffering, death and something worse: the tension between two laws-one reaching for the good, the other directed toward evil. St. Paul points out this torment in humiliating fashion to prove our need a salvific grace, for the salvation brought by Christ,(6) and also our great good fortune in being saved. Even before this, a pagan poet had described this conflict within the very heart of man: “I see what is better and I approve of it, but then I follow the worse.”(7)
We come face to face with sin which is a perversion of human freedom and the profound cause of death because it involves detachment from God, the source of life. And then sin in its turn becomes the occasion and the effect of interference in us and our work by a dark, hostile agent, the Devil. Evil is not merely an absence of something but an active force, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and that perverts others. It is a terrible reality, mysterious and frightening.

Seeking an explanation
It is a departure from the picture provided by biblical Church teaching to refuse to knowledge the Devil’s existence; to regard him as a self-sustaining principle who, unlike other creatures, does not owe his origin to God; or to explain the Devil as a pseudo-reality, a conceptual, fanciful personification of the unknown causes of our misfortunes. When the problem of evil is seen in all its complexity and in its absurdity from the point of view of our limited minds, it becomes an obsession. It poses the greatest single obstacle to our religious understanding of the universe it is no accident that St. Augustine was bothered by this for years: “I sought the source of evil, and I found no explanation.”(9)
Thus we can see how important an awareness of evil is if we are to have a correct Christian concept of the world, life and salvation. We see this first in the unfolding of the Gospel story at the beginning of Christ’s public life. Who can forget the highly significant description of the triple temptation of Christ? Or the many episodes in the Gospel where the Devil crosses the Lord’s path and figures in His teaching?(10) And how could we forget that Christ, referring three times to the Devil as His adversary, describes him as “the prince of this world”?(11)

Other New Testament passages
The lurking shadow of this wicked presence is pointed up in many, many passages of the New Testament. St. Paul calls him the “god of this world,”(12) and warns us of the struggle we Christians must carry on in the dark, not only against one Devil, but against a frightening multiplicity of them. “I put on the armor of God,” the Apostle tells us, “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high.”(13)
Many passages in the Gospel show us that we are dealing not just with one Devil, but with many.(14) But the principal one is Satan, which means the adversary, the enemy; and along with him are many others, all of them creatures of God, but fallen because they rebelled and were damned(15)-a whole mysterious world, convulsed by a most unfortunate drama about which we know very little.

Man’s fatal tempter
There are many things we do know, however, about this diabolical world, things that touch on our lives and on the whole history of mankind. The Devil is at the origin of mankind’s first misfortune, he was the wily, fatal tempter involved in the first sin, the original sin.(16)


That fall of Adam gave the Devil a certain dominion over man, from which only Christ’s Redemption can free us. It is a history that is still going on: let us recall the exorcisms at Baptism, and the frequent references in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgy to the aggressive and oppressive “power of darkness.”(17) The Devil is the number one enemy, the preeminent tempter.
So we know that this dark disturbing being exists and that he is still at work with his treacherous cunning; he is the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history. It is worth recalling the revealing Gospel parable of the good seed and the cockle, for it synthesizes and explains the lack of logic that seems to preside over our contradictory experiences: “An enemy has done this.”(18) He is “a murderer from the beginning, . . and the father of lies,” as Christ defines him.(19) He undermines man’s moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities, so that he can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations.

Ignoring the Devil
This matter of the Devil and of the influence he can exert on individuals as well as on communities, entire societies or events, is a very important chapter of Catholic doctrine which should be studied again, although it is given little attention today. Some think a sufficient compensation can be found in psychoanalytic and psychiatric studies or in spiritualistic experiences, which are unfortunately so widespread in some countries today.
People are afraid of falling back into old Manichean theories, or into frightening deviations of fancy and superstition. Nowadays they prefer to appear strong and unprejudiced to pose as positivists, while at the same time lending faith to many unfounded magical or popular superstitions or, worse still, exposing their souls-their baptized souls, visited so often by the Eucharistic Presence and inhabited by the Holy Spirit!-to licentious sensual experiences and to harmful drugs, as well as to the ideological seductions of fashionable errors. These are cracks through which the Evil One can easily penetrate and change the human mind.
This is not to say that every sin is directly due to diabolical action;(20) but it is true that those who do not keep watch over themselves with a certain moral rigor(21) are exposed to the influence of the “mystery of iniquity” cited by St. Paul(22) which raises serious questions about our salvation.
Our doctrine becomes uncertain, darkness obscured as it is by the darkness surrounding the Devil. But our curiosity, excited by the certainly of his multiple existence, has a right to raise two questions. Are there signs, and what are they, of the presence of diabolical action? And what means of defense do we have against such an insidious danger?

Presence of diabolical action
We have to be cautious about answering the first question, even though the signs of the Evil One seem to be very obvious at times.(23) We can presume that his sinister action is at work where the denial of God becomes radical, subtle and absurd; where lies become powerful and hypocritical in the face of evident truth; where love is smothered by cold, cruel selfishness; where Christ’s name is attacked with conscious, rebellious hatred,(24) where the spirit of the Gospel is watered down and rejected where despair is affirmed as the last word; and so forth.
But this diagnosis is too extensive and difficult for Us to attempt to probe and authenticate it now. It holds a certain dramatic interest for everyone, however, and has been the subject of some famous passages in modern literature.(25) The problem of evil remains one of the greatest and most lasting problems for the human mind, even after the victorious response given to it by Jesus Christ. “We know,” writes St. John the Evangelist, “that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”(26)

Defense against the Devil
It is easier to formulate an answer to the other question-what defense, what remedy should we use against the Devil’s action?-even though it remains difficult to put into practice. We could say: everything that defends us from sin strengthens us by that very fact against the invisible enemy. Grace is the decisive defense. Innocence takes on the aspect of strength. Everyone recalls how often the apostolic method of teaching used the armor of a soldier as a symbol for the virtues that can make a Christian invulnerable.(27) The Christian must be a militant; he must be vigilant and strong;(28) and he must at times make use of special ascetical practices to escape from certain diabolical attacks. Jesus teaches us this by pointing to “prayer and fasting” as the remedy.(29) And the Apostle suggests the main line we should follow: “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”(30)
With an awareness, therefore, of the opposition that individual souls, the Church and the world must face at the present time, we will try to give both meaning and, effectiveness to the familiar invocation in our principal prayer: “Our Father . . . deliver us from evil!” May Our apostolic blessing also be a help toward achieving this.

1. See Genesis 1, 10 etc.
2. See Ephesians 1, 10.
3. See St. Augustine, Soliloquies.
4. See l Corinthians 2, 9; 13, 12; Romans 8, 19-2:3.
5. See the Gloria of the Mass.
6. See Romans 7.
7. Ovid, Met. 7, 19.
8. Romans 5, 12.
9. Confessions VII, 5, 7, 11 etc.: PL: 32, 736, 739.
10. For example. Matthew 12, 43.
11. John 12, 31; 14, 30; 16, 11.
12. Corinthians 4, 4.
13. Ephesians 6, 11-12.
14. Luke 11, 21; Mark 5, 9.
15. See DS 800-128.
16. Genesis 3; Wisdom 1, 24.
17. See Luke 22, 53; Colossians 1, 13.
18. Matthew 13, 28.
19. See John 8, 44-45.
20. See S. th. 1, 104, 3.
21. See Matthew 12, 45; Ephesians 6, 11.
22. 2 Thessalonians 2, 3-12.
23. See Tertullian, Apol. 23.
24. See 1 Corinthians 16, 22; 12, 3.
25. See, for example, the works of Bernanos, studied by Ch. Moeller, Litter. du xx siecle, I, p. 39, ff.; P. Macchi, Il volto del male in bernanos; see also Satan, etudes carmelitaines, Desclee de Br. (1948).
26. 1 Jn 5, 19.
27. See Romans 13, 12; Ephesians 6, 11, 14 17; I Thessalonians 5, 8.
28. 1 Peter 5, 8.
29. Mark 9, 29.
30. Romans 12, 21; Matthew 13, 29.


Rome, May 16, 2008 ( When Pope Paul VI spoke about the “smoke of Satan” entering the Catholic Church, he was referring to liturgical abuses, according to the prelate who served as his master of ceremonies.
Cardinal Virgilio Noè, the chief Vatican liturgist during the pontificate of Paul VI, spoke candidly about the late Pope’s concerns in an interview with the Roman Petrus web site. The Italian prelate — who was also the Vatican’s top liturgist under Pope John Paul I and the early years of the pontificate of John Paul II — is now retired, and at the age of 86 his health is failing.

In his interview with Petrus he concentrated primarily on his years serving Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul accepted the liturgical reforms after Vatican II “with pleasure,” Cardinal Noè said. He added that Paul VI was not by nature a sad man, but “he was saddened by the fact of having been left alone by the Roman Curia.”

Regarding the late Pope’s famous remark about the “smoke of Satan,” Cardinal Noe said that he knew what Paul VI intended by that statement. In that denunciation, he said, the Pope “meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dross in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony.”

For Pope Paul VI, the cardinal continued, the worst outcome of the post-conciliar liturgical reform was the “craving to be in the limelight” that caused many priests to ignore liturgical guidelines. Cardinal Noe recalled that the Pope himself believed in careful adherence to the rubrics of the Mass, firmly believing that “no one is lord of the Mass.”
Speaking for himself, the former top Vatican liturgist said that the liturgy must always be celebrated with reverence and careful respect for the rubrics. He said with regret that in the wake of Vatican II “it was believed that everything, or nearly, was permitted.” Cardinal Noè said: “Now it is necessary to recover and in a hurry –– the sense of the sacred in the ars celebrandi, before the smoke of Satan completely pervades the whole Church.”

By Bruno Volpe
CITTA’ DEL VATICANO He speaks with a thread of a voice and at times laboring for breath, it is so difficult he has to stop. But his mind is lucid and his heart is sound. The interview with Virgilio Card. Noè, 86, Master of Liturgical Ceremonies during the Pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, once the Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter and Vicar of the Pope for Vatican City, showed himself to be at the same time both touching and engaging. The Cardinal, who has very much abandoned public life because of the infirmities of old age, helps us, taking us by the hand, better to know a Pontiff – wrongly forgotten in history’s haste: Giovan Battista Montini. He reveals for the first time what Paul VI was referring to precisely when in 1972 he denounced the presence of the smoke of Satan in the Church.

Your Eminence, who was Pope Paul VI?
A real gentleman, a saint. I remember still how he lived the Eucharistic Mystery, with passion and participation. When I think of him I tear up, but not in the way of a hypocrite. I am truly moved. I owe him a great deal, he taught me a lot, he lived and paid a great price for the Church.

You had the privilege to be Master of Liturgical Ceremonies precisely because of the assignment from Papa Montini in the time of the post-Conciliar reform. How do you remember those times?
Splendidly. Once the Holy Father said to me, personally, and in a very tender way, how the MC* ought to carry out his role in that particular historical period. He came into the sacristy. I drew near and he said: “The MC must foresee everything and taken everything on himself, he has the task of making the Pope’s road smoother.” *Master of Liturgical Ceremonies

Did he add anything else?
He affirmed that the spirit of the MC must not be shaken up by anything, large or small, that may be his own personal problems. An MC, he stressed, must remain also the master of himself and be the Pope’s shield, so that Holy Mass can be celebrated in a dignified way, for the glory of God and His people.

How did the Holy Father take the liturgical reform desired by Vatican II?
With pleasure.


It is told that Paul VI was quite a sad man, true or legend?
A lie. He was a good and gentle father, a gentleman and a saint. At the same time, he was saddened by the fact of having been left alone by the Roman Curia. But I would prefer not to talk about that.

As a whole, against the historians, you, as one of his closest and trust collaborators, describe Papa Montini as a serene person.
He was. Do you know why? Because he also affirmed that whoever serves the Lord cannot ever be sad. He served Him especially in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Paul VI’s denunciation of the presence of the smoke of Satan in the Church is unforgettable. Still today, that discourse seems to be incredibly relevant.
You from Petrus, have gotten a real scoop here, because I am in a position to reveal, for the first time, what Paul VI desired to denounce with that statement. Here it is.

Papa Montini, for Satan, meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly (mal celebrando) Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dry straw in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony.

It is thought that Paul VI was the real culprit as the cause of all the ills of post-Conciliar liturgy. But based on what you have revealed, Eminence, Montini compared the liturgical chaos, even if in a veiled way, actually to something hellish.
He condemned craving to be in the limelight and the delirium of almighty power that they were following the Council at the liturgical level. Mass is a sacred ceremony, he often repeated, everything must be prepared and studied adequately, respecting the canons, no one is “dominus” [lord] of the Mass. Sadly, in many after Vatican II not many understood him and Paul VI suffered this, considering the phenomenon to be an attack of the Devil.

Your Eminence, in conclusion, what is true liturgy?

It renders glory to God. Liturgy must be carried out always and no matter what with decorum: even a sign of the Cross poorly made is synonymous with scorn and sloppiness. Alas, I repeat, after Vatican II it was believed that everything, or nearly, was permitted. Now it is necessary to recover, and in a hurry, the sense of the sacred in the ars celebrandi, before the smoke of Satan completely pervades the whole Church.
Thanks be to God, we have Pope Benedict XVI: his Mass and his liturgical style are an example of correctness and dignity.



Pope Once Railed Against Disbelief in the Devil and Saw a Return of ‘Dark Powers’
[resources: The Ratzinger Report and spiritual warfare books]
April 26, 2005
At a time when the devil is barely mentioned from the pulpit and the concept of evil considered to be abstract, Pope Benedict XVI‘s beliefs, as expressed when he was a cardinal, are clear: the devil is not only real but something that we ignore at our own peril. Moreover, the man who would become Pope once expressed the pressing need for all Christians to act as “exorcists” as he cited a return of “dark powers.” That was not to say that laymen should cast out demons in the formal Catholic rite but rather that all must recognize the operations of evil and overcome it with the proper fear not of evil, said the future Pope, but of God.
“Whatever the less discerning theologians may say, the devil, as far as Christian belief is concerned, is a
puzzling but real, personal and not merely symbolical presence,” Benedict XVI said in The Ratzinger Report
[co-authored with Vittorio Messori]. “He is a powerful reality (the ‘prince of this world,’ as he is called by the New Testament, which continually reminds us of his existence), a baneful superhuman freedom directed against God’s freedom. This is evident if we look realistically at history, with its abyss of ever-new atrocities which cannot be explained by reference to man alone. On his own, man has not the power to oppose Satan, but the devil is not second to God, and united with Jesus we can be certain of vanquishing him. Christ is ‘God Who is near to us,’ willing and able to liberate us: that is why the Gospel really is ‘Good News.’ And that is why we must go on proclaiming Christ in those realms of fear and unfreedom.” Such may come as a jolt to those who view Joseph Ratzinger more as a hard-nosed intellectual and to certain theologians, priests, and bishops who have all but discounted existence of an actual nefarious preternatural spirit — either arguing that the very mention of the devil is counterproductive (“negative”) or dismissing the idea to begin with. 
But the devil does not simply stand for “sin”; he is not a mere symbol or image; an approach of denial is one authored by Satan himself, said Benedict XVI. He described sociologists and philosophers who have
dismissed notions of the devil as possessing a philosophy that “consists merely in banal, uncritical
assent to the convictions of the present time.”
One of then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s most celebrated books, Dogma und Verkundigund, treats the topic of the
devil as one of the “major themes of preaching.” Raised in Nazi Germany, the Pope, like John Paul II
before him, had only too close a look at how evil can manifest and fretted in the 1985 book that “there are
already signs of the return of these dark powers, and Satanic cults are spreading more and more in the
secularized world.” Yet in the current day homilies mentioning Satan are rare and numerous dioceses do not so much as boast an exorcist. Will that change under Benedict — the very name associated with spiritual warfare?
“Anyone who has a clear picture of the dark sides of the age in which we live sees forces at work which aim
to disintegrate the relationships among men,” said the Pope. “In this situation the Christian can see that
his task as exorcist must regain the importance it had when the faith was at the beginning. Of course the
word ‘exorcism’ must not be understood here in its technical sense; it simply refers to the attitude of
faith as a whole, which ‘overcomes the world’ and ‘casts out’ the prince of this world. Once the Christian has begun to be aware of this dark abyss, he knows that he owes the world this service.”
Ratzinger and Messori pointed out that in addition to the affirmations of the New Testament — which treats
the devil not as a symbol, but as an actual presence — Vatican II documents speak 17 times of “satan,” “the devil,” the “evil one,” “the ancient serpent,” the “power of darkness,” and the “prince of this world.” “At least five of these references occur in Gaudium et spes — the most ‘optimistic’ document of the entire Council,” noted Messori in an interlocution between answers he posed to the cardinal.
The Pope equated belief in the devil with spiritual maturity. Genuine courage, he said, does not close its eyes to the dimensions of danger but considers danger realistically.
In unity with Jesus, and with fear of God, the devil is easily defeated. But, in a balanced way, he said, there has to be that recognition. “The more one understands the holiness of God, the more one understands the opposite of what is holy, namely, the deceptive masks of the devil,” said the future Pope. “Jesus Christ Himself is the greatest example of this: before Him, the Holy One, Satan could not keep hidden and was constantly compelled to show himself. So one might say that the disappearance of the awareness of the demonic indicates a related decline in holiness. The devil can take refuge in his favorite element, anonymity, if he is not exposed by the radiance of the person united to Christ.”


Cardinal Francis Arinze at the Cardinals Meeting, April 5, 1991 in an address to the April 4-7 consistory at the Vatican…

Action of the Devil
We should not exclude, among explanations of the rise and spread of the sects or NRMs [New Religious Movements], the action of the Devil, even if this action is unknown to the people involved. The Devil is the enemy who sows darnel among the wheat when the people are asleep…

In Asia the NRMs of local origin do not seem to be a major menace in countries where Christians are a minority except that they are exported to Europe and the Americas where they attract people, including intellectuals, with their syncretistic and esoteric offers of relaxation, peace, and illumination

Abandonment of the Faith

In more extreme cases, Christians can be led to abandon their faith through the activity of the NRMs. Some movements promote a type of neopaganism, a putting of self instead of God at the center of worship, and a claim to extraordinary knowledge which regards itself as above all religions. Other NRMs engage in occultism, magic, spiritism, and even devil worship.



KC digest no. 1428 April 4, 2008: Re: Fear of Black Magic

Posted by: “Lawrence Monteiro” Apr 3, 2008

I have experienced first hand this problem, during my college days at ALC, Vijayawada. This was two decades ago. I was staying in a Hostel meant for Catholic boys only. A boy who had his bed just adjacent to me once went to his home town/village. He had a big fight with one of his neighbours under a tamarind tree in the remote corner of the village. My friend happened to beat the other boy, black and blue.

The problem started cropping up after a week. My friend started having nightmares in his sleep. He started to yell and ask for help, stating that some boy was trying to kill him. The first day was really frightful. I did not know what to do. I just clung to my small Bible and the rosary that my parents had given to me. Now this happened almost every night between 12.00 midnight and 2.30am. I could not sleep for the next one week.
When I informed my friends, nobody believed me. Even the boy who had these nightmares did not believe me. I informed the warden, and he was kind enough to tell me that I was dreaming. Then after a week, with nobody helping me or even listening to me, I decided to take things in my own hands. I remember my granny saying that if you find anyone like that, just take courage and slap that person and he or she will be alright. For the first two days I did just that, clinging on to the Bible and the Rosary. But after half and hour, the story would repeat.
Then I remembered that I gained courage whenever I had the Bible and the Rosary in my hands. So I got a rosary and had it blessed by a vocational director. On the third night, when the thing repeated, I slapped my friend till he came to his senses, put a bible under his pillow and the rosary around his neck. We both recited one Our Father, three Hail Mary and once Glory Be. That night the thing never recurred. I was happy.
Then I told this guy and reminded him every day to put the Bible under his pillow and the Rosary round his neck before he went to sleep. Two weeks followed without any incident. It was a happy moment. Then one night he forgot. There was no Bible and the Rosary with him, when he went to bed. And this time, it recurred and it was violent. That’s when I woke up my friends from the other rooms and showed them what was happening. That’s when they believed and they called the warden. And immediately, he prayed over the boy, sprinkling Holy Water on him.
Next day, he was sent back to his home. His parents were informed. They received him at the station, took him home and then to the church. They had a prayer together and they too followed what I did back in the hostel. He then attended a retreat and then reconciled with that boy who was bashed up by this friend of mine.
He returned to the hostel. Later we learnt that the boy who was beaten up did some black magic or tantra, whatever they call it. Lawrence Monteiro Hyderabad – India

Lawrence Monteiro;
Austine J. Crasta ; RUPERT VAZ ; Rohit D’Souza

Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 8:23 AM Subject: Fear of Black Magic

Dear Lawrence and moderators,

With regard to the posting in Konkani Catholics digest 1428 of April 4, I would like to share something.

During my 1997-98 sojourn in Mangalore, I came across a couple of Catholic groups practising deliverance.

I was taken to a home where a teenage girl was said to be ‘afflicted’ or ‘possessed’ and I witnessed her being yelled at and humiliated during the ‘prayer’ conducted by the group. Another day there was this girl brought to Fatima Retreat House, I do not recall if she was the same or another, and I witnessed her being alternatively prayed over, slapped and kicked all over in the middle of the road near the dining hall. Though two priests watched the goings-on from a distance, I somehow cannot imagine that granny’s recipe of prayer+slapping is an approved Catholic one. But maybe I am wrong. Will someone find out and let me know? Love, Michael 


Lawrence Monteiro
Austine J. Crasta ; RUPERT VAZ ; Rohit D’Souza

Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 9:53 AM Subject: Re: Fear of Black Magic

Hi Prabhu and all, What I did narrate was a real life experience that I did have during my college days.

I really do not know how much of what I did then was Catholic, but I did it as it was the need of the hour. It was just lucky that I remember what my granny told me before. At times, it’s just that intuition plays an important part and keeps the other things aside. At that point of time, believe me, anybody would have done anything to correct the situation or just run away from that place and never return back. That was the situation then. The yelling by that boy, the fright that the boy showed on his face, the fear of death as experienced by him was nothing short of self inflicted torture that he was going through, without him being involved.

As part of your question, how much Catholic is the slap, I don’t know. I tried browsing through hundreds of pages on exorcism, devil, satan, etc and I could not get to that point of a slap being used.

If there is anything to this, please let me know. Regards Lawrence Monteiro Hyderabad – India

Lawrence Monteiro
Austine J. Crasta ; RUPERT VAZ ; Rohit D’Souza

Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 10:48 AM Subject: Re: Fear of Black Magic

My dear Lawrence, I greatly appreciate your honest response.

I already had no doubt that you were really concerned for your friend, and that you did the best that you knew then. I noted how you prayed using the rosary etc. and I do not know many people like you who would have risen to the situation using prayer.

I don’t think that you will find anything anywhere, Lawrence, about physically abusing the afflicted person. I have consulted an expert at the International Secretariats for Exorcism and Deliverance*, and I will give you the response if I receive one. *See following page

I was simply concerned that some KC members might be left with the impression that slapping is procedurally correct. Much love to you, Mike


KC digest no. 1438 April 14, 2008: Re: Fear of Black Magic

Posted by: “Austine Crasta” Apr 3, 2008

As I was just catching up on all the KC mails of the past week, I was going through all the mails that had come in on the subject of “black magic”. Two of the unapproved mails had mentioned something about a certain priest whose deliverance ministry had not been recognized by his Bishop and another directed the affected to a certain lay person involved in what today has popularly come to be known as “deliverance ministry“.
I do not want you to be ignorant concerning the Church’s teaching for the driving of the evil spirit from a possessed person, the proper word for which, in Catholic terminology is, EXORCISM. Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says about exorcism (no. 1673):
“When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing. IN A SIMPLE FORM, EXORCISM IS PERFORMED AT THE CELEBRATION OF BAPTISM. THE SOLEMN EXORCISM, CALLED ‘A MAJOR EXORCISM,’ CAN BE PERFORMED ONLY BY A PRIEST AND WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE BISHOP. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.”
Now, the Catechism makes it abundantly clear that in Catholic teaching:
1. Exorcism is the name given to Church’s asking with its authority in the name of Jesus that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion,
2. That this is done in only two ways – the ordinary or simple form in the rite of Baptism, and
3. the solemn form (called solemn/major exorcism) which can be performed only by a priest authorized by his bishop.
Proponents of the so called “deliverance ministry” where lay people attempt to command the evil spirits out of a person often do so under the mistaken notion that only cases of possession require the solemn exorcism whereas cases of demonic obsession may be handled even by lay persons. THIS IS NOT WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES.
[For those who do not know the difference between demonic possession and obsession; when the devil attacks the body of a human being from the outside, we call this obsession. When, however, the evil spirit assumes control of a human soul from within, we call that possession.]
The Church teaching is very clear about the fact that no one may attempt exorcism of any sort, under whatever pretext unless 1) he is a Priest, and 2) he is duly authorized to do so. And the exorcism is essentially the same when used in the case of obsession or in the case of possession.

I’m saying this because there have been many cases of lay Catholics, knowingly or unknowingly, attempting to command the evil spirits in the name of “deliverance ministry.” Very recently a parish priest told me the tragic story of how he witnessed one young girl, who showed diabolic behaviour during the parish retreat, being beaten by a lay preacher with his slippers in order to rid her of the demonic. There is nothing to justify such behaviour. If it is an authentic case of demonic possession, the only real way to fight it is with an exorcist. If it’s not, you’re probably going to get slapped back.
Though we are not to attempt commanding of the evil spirits, we all still ought to pray as Jesus taught, that we may be delivered from evil (cf. Mt 6:13). We ought also to make good use of the sacraments and have recourse to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints in our spiritual fight against evil spirits. I end here with the prayer of St. Michael which all of us may use… Austine, Moderator. Bangalore

Austine J. Crasta ; RUPERT VAZ ; Rohit D’Souza
Lawrence Monteiro

Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 9:48 AM Subject: “Deliverance Ministry” and Lay Catholics

My dear Austine, Thank you for this. You confirm that beating and slapping are not permissible.

May I point out that the “deliverance ministry” is accepted in charismatic circles all over the world? It is almost always performed by priests. There are exceptional cases where lay persons receive that gift. I know a few of them like Christina Lobo of Bandra and Joan D’Rozario of Kolkata [now my wife’s sister-in-law] who was teamed with Fr Rufus Pereira and Fr. John Hoey. My wife Angela has the gift of discernment of the presence of the devil [by smell and visions], and this has exhibited itself on a few notable occasions. All the lay persons whom I know do fasting and prayer before praying with such afflicted persons.

I attended a three-day seminar on Healing and Deliverance by two of the world’s leading priest-exorcists where it was confirmed that there are different stages of affliction including “obsession” in addition to the most serious condition which is “possession” which must be handled only by a priest. Love, Michael

From: To: Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:42 AM

Subject: Re: Fear of Black Magic

Dear Michael, Most likely this boy was affected by a spell. What delivered him was the blessed water and the rosary applied in strong faith. The slapping would have worked if it was only psychological problem, like a deep trauma due to the beating which happened unjustly, so that would have been the level onto which a slap could have worked, because it brings the person back to consciousness. I planned to send you our quarterly brochure on deliverance, which might give you insight in the work of deliverance and exorcism. In Christ, Erika



1. Quote from page 70: Secondly in the years 1994 to 2002 Fr. Rufus Pereira had been appointed Vice president for AIE. In 1995 he had already founded IAD, a parallel organisation (with agreement of Don Gabrielle Amorth, the then president of AIE), which considered the growing number and need of laypersons in the healing ministry and hence encountering interference by evil spirits. These laypeople needed help when and how to pray, what would have to be dealt with by appointed exorcists, and what could be dealt with by authority of a priest etc. – Erika Gibello

Erika Gibello is secretary for the AIE (Association of Exorcists International), English-speaking members, and secretary general for the IAD (International Association for Deliverance).

2. Quote from page 74:

The Laity and Deliverance by L. Margoni

“I would say that 90 per cent of those who think they are possessed by the Devil are mentally ill,” said Father Joerg Mueller. A large number of them have suffered sexual abuse as children. Some think that an exorcism is easier than long years of psychotherapy. He added: “But about ten per cent of the people who approach us have some sign of demonic possession and then you have to turn to special, charismatic men and women who have the gift of being able to feel and recognise if demons have entered someone.”

3. Quote from page 129:

How do deliverance prayers differ from exorcism prayers?
by L. Margoni

Today solemn exorcism is limited to the priest who prays in the name of the church. There are three requirements in order for this rite to be performed; the person must be possessed, a priest must perform the exorcism, and finally an exorcism could only be performed with the permission of the bishop (see signs of possession). With private exorcism a lay-person or religious can pray in his/her own name (not in the name of the church). What this means is the laity cannot use the Roman Ritual of Exorcism to pray in the name of the church.

4. Quote from page 155: Exorcist
Boot Camp: Church leaders call for more training against evil

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service April 1, 2011

“We shouldn’t overwork the exorcists. The parish priest should be training laypeople to do deliverance,” Msgr. Mottet [the official exorcist of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa] said.



Vatican issues first new exorcism ritual since 1614 Rites seeks to bring church up to date with science

January 26, 1999 VATICAN CITY (CNN) Blaming Satan for many of today’s ills, the Vatican on Tuesday unveiled updated exorcism rules, along with a caution not to mistake psychiatric problems for diabolic possession.

The Vatican’s first updated ritual for exorcism since 1614 tries to bring the church up to date with modern science and, for the first time, urges church-approved exorcists to consult modern medicine where needed. However, officials made clear at a news conference that the traditional belief in the devil was not optional for today’s Roman Catholics.

“The existence of the devil isn’t an opinion, something to take or leave as you wish,” said Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, a Vatican official, adding that belief in Satan is a tenet of Catholic faith.

The devil “deceives men, making them believe that you find happiness in money, in power, in carnal desire,” Medina said in presenting the revised rules. “He fools men by persuading them that they do not need God and that they are self- sufficient.”

Rules urge consultations with physicians

Except for some new formulas for priests, authorized by bishops, to read during exorcisms, the text is essentially unchanged. Instead the novelty appears largely in the cautions for determining if exorcism is warranted.

“The exorcist will decide with prudence” after consulting with spiritual experts and “if considered opportune, with experts in medical and psychiatric science,” the new rules stress.

“First of all, he must not assume that those who are suffering from some illness, particularly psychological, are vexed by the demon,” the guide says.

It says signs that a person is under the influence of the devil include speaking unknown languages and having physical strength disproportionate to a person’s age or body.

The ritual of exorcism itself, outlined in detail in the booklet, includes prayers, the blessing and sprinkling of holy water, the laying of hands on the possessed and making the sign of the cross. It continues with appeals to Christ, the Holy Spirit and the saints of the church.

Actual formula largely unchanged

Then, the actual formula of exorcism begins.

The first is the “imploring formula,” in which the evils of the devil are listed and God is entreated to free the possessed.

The second — more intense formula — is the “imperative formula” in which the devil is ordered to leave the possessed.

The imperative formula begins: “I order you, Satan …” It then goes on to denounce Satan as “prince of the world” and “enemy of human salvation.” It ends: “Therefore, Go Back, Satan.”

The new text, an 84-page Latin-language book known as the Roman Ritual, is not yet available in other languages, but Cardinal Estevez said that was not a problem.

“The new manual comes into effect today in its Latin version,” he said. “An exorcist can use the Latin version tonight if he wants because the devil understands Latin.”

Number of exorcisms performed unclear

Vatican officials said they had no figures on how many exorcisms are performed, but major dioceses have their own exorcists. Estevez said he believed the number of true possessions today was “not that great, rather scarce,” but that the amount of evil in the world left no doubt the devil was on the job.

Pope John Paul II has made it clear several times in his 20-year papacy that he believes in the existence of the devil. During a trip to Germany in 1987, the pope said the horrors of World War II, including the Nazi death camps, were proof that the devil was still at work.

The pope himself once performed an exorcism during his papacy, according to the memoirs of Cardinal Jacques Martin, the former prefect of the pontifical household.

Quoting the late cardinal’s book, “My Six Popes,” the Italian news agency ANSA said John Paul carried out the rite in 1982, driving out the devil from a woman who was brought to him, writhing on the ground. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


Bishops’ upcoming exorcism conference responds to queries about rite

By Dennis Sadowski WASHINGTON (CNS) November 9, 2010

U.S. bishops are looking for a few good men to become exorcists. In response to growing interest in the rite of exorcism and a shortage of trained exorcists nationwide, the bishops are sponsoring a two-day conference just prior to their 2010 fall general assembly November 15-18 in Baltimore.
Interest in the November 12-13 Conference on the Liturgical and Pastoral Practice of Exorcism proved great. When registration closed November 1, 56 bishops and 66 priests had signed up.
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance told Catholic News Service he knows of perhaps five or six exorcists in the United States. They are overwhelmed with requests to perform the rite, he said.
“There’s this small group of priests who say they get requests from all over the continental U.S.,” Bishop Paprocki said. “Actually, each diocese should have its own resource (person). It shouldn’t be that this burden should be placed on a priest when his responsibility is for his own diocese,” he said.
Under canon law — Canon 1172 specifically — only those priests who get permission from their bishops can perform an exorcism after proper training.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that an exorcism occurs when the church, in the person of an exorcist, asks “publicly and authoritatively” in Christ’s name “that a person or object be protected against the power of the evil one and withdrawn from his dominion.”
At baptism, the rite is performed in a simple form. A solemn or major exorcism, according to the catechism, “is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted in his church.”
Scripture contains several examples of Jesus casting out evil spirits from people.
“We don’t think that’s poetic metaphor,” Bishop Paprocki said.
The conference will encompass the spiritual, the theological and the practical. Speakers include Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Houston-Galveston, who will discuss the scriptural basis of evil. Father Dennis McManus, an assistant to New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, and Father Jeffrey Grob, pastor of St. Celestine Church in Elmwood Park, Ill., also will lead sessions.
Father Grob told CNS he will review diocesan protocol in the appointment of an exorcist as well as what canon law says about the rite. He also will offer recommendations on how to evaluate an individual to determine if an exorcism is necessary.
Despite the many requests for an exorcism, the actual number of people possessed by a demon is far fewer than people fear, Bishop Paprocki said.
The rite is considered a sacramental, which canon law describes as a sacred sign “by which effects, especially spiritual effects, are signified in some imitation of the sacraments and are obtained through the intercession of the church.” The rite rarely is as dramatic as portrayed in movies and popular media, Bishop Paprocki said.
Other actions, especially reception of the sacraments, can drive out the devil as well, he added.
“The sacrament of penance is much more powerful than an exorcism,” the bishop explained. “The work of the devil is much more regular and our response to that should be rather regular. It’s not that you need a special exorcism to deal with the devil.”
Church practice, which was updated in 1999, requires that a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the individual thought to be possessed be undertaken. Physical and psychological exams are conducted. A priest also will examine the person. Family, friends and co-workers may be interviewed.
“There’s a lot of preliminary work that has to go in with dealing with the people in terms of assessing what the situation is. We use the principal that we exclude the natural before going to the supernatural level,” Bishop Paprocki said.
Father Grob used the image of an onion to explain how the evaluation process works.
“You have to peel away the layers and if there is general demonic activity, it didn’t get there overnight,” he explained. “There’s not an instantaneous change in the person.”
Signs of demonic possession might include:
— Speaking in a language the individual does not know.
— Scratching, cutting, biting of the skin.
— Profound display of strength.
— Sleeplessness.
— Lack of appetite.
— Aversion to anything holy, such as mentioning the name of Jesus or Mary, or the act of praying.
— Strong or violent reaction to holy water.
Once the need for a formal exorcism is determined, the rite is conducted in a private setting such as a church, a holy space if no church is available, or a person’s home, where family members can be present.

In a case where the possession is deep-seated, it may take more than one performance of the rite over a period of months or even years to dispel the devil, Bishop Paprocki said.
“We, because of Hollywood, have this kind of exaggerated sense of not only a very dramatic kind of possession, but also a very dramatic kind of exorcism. It ties in with our culture of quick fixes: You do it once and person is going to be liberated,” he said.
Holy water, a crucifix, relics of saints and blessed salt are part of the exorcism rite.
“The reality is that a full exorcism is a rare thing,” Bishop Paprocki said, “but we still have to have people who know how to do that because the reality is that it’s not unheard of.”
Exorcisms are more common in Europe. Dozens of priests are authorized to perform the rite, especially in Italy, France and Poland.
“It’s not only performed more commonly (in Europe), but a lot less people get excited about it,” Bishop Paprocki said. “It’s not quite as exceptional as we would take it.”


We know Hollywood likes the idea of demonic possession (Omen, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist etc), but psychological phenomena can too facilely be interpreted as demonic possession. I find theological difficulty with the idea of the devil taking control of anyone’s soul, because it requires God to allow it. So I question that exorcism is an apt endeavour for the Church. Psychology, limited as it is, provides a better explanation. This is well argued in “Diabolical Possession and Catholic Cults? The Lack of Psychological Awareness and the Materialization of Belief in the Catholic Church.” (; unfortunately, the website does not identify its authors, which means we must rely on the inner logic of its content, without the support of authority.

Posted By: PM, Eden


Better the Devil you know: Catholic Church in U.S. gives lessons in how to perform exorcisms

By Daily Mail Reporter November 15, 2010

Dozens of Catholic priests in the U.S. have spent the weekend brushing up on their Devil-banishing skills in a bid to boost the number of clergy qualified to carry out exorcisms.

Although the rite – in which the spirit of the Devil is cast out from a possessed victim – is rarely carried out, church leaders have been swamped with requests for exorcisms from worried parishioners. Currently the church has just a handful of priests qualified to investigate thousands of cases.

‘Learning the liturgical rite is not difficult,’ said Texas archbishop Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who spoke at the event in Baltimore. ‘The problem is the discernment that the exorcist needs before he would ever attempt the rite.’

The weekend training camp – which was attended by more than 100 bishops and priests – provided lessons in outlining the scriptural basis of evil, instructing clergy on evaluating whether a person is truly possessed, and a review the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism.

No one knows why more people in the U.S. are seeking the rite. Organisers said one reason could be the growing interest among Americans in exploring general spirituality, as opposed to participating in organised religion, which has led more people to dabble in the occult.

Despite strong interest in the training, scepticism about the rite persists within the American church. Event organisers said they were aware of the ridicule that can accompany discussion of the subject.

Exorcists in U.S. dioceses keep a very low profile. In 1999, the church updated the Rite of Exorcism, cautioning that ‘all must be done to avoid the perception that exorcism is magic or superstition’.

A major exorcism can only be performed by a priest with the permission of his bishop after a thorough evaluation, including consulting with physicians or psychiatrists to rule out any psychological or physical illness behind the person’s behavior.

Signs of demonic possession accepted by the church include violent reaction to holy water or anything holy, speaking in a language the possessed person doesn’t know and abnormal displays of strength.

The full exorcism is held in private and includes sprinkling holy water, reciting Psalms, reading aloud from the Gospel, laying on of hands and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Some adaptations are allowed for different circumstances. The exorcist can invoke the Holy Spirit then blow in the face of the possessed person, trace the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead and command the devil to leave.

The practice is much more accepted by Catholics in parts of Europe and elsewhere overseas. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the longtime private secretary of Pope John Paul II, revealed a few years after the pontiff’s death that John Paul had performed an exorcism on a woman who was brought into the Vatican writhing and screaming in what Dziwisz said was a case of possession by the Devil.



100-plus priests attend US exorcism conference

November 18, 2010 Over 100 US bishops and priests attended a conference on exorcism, hosted by the US bishops in Baltimore to “really to provide some guidance for bishops” because only a “small number” of priests are trained in the area, reports the Catholic News Agency.

Despite the intrigue and attention given to the topic of exorcism, the primary work of the Devil lies in daily “temptation,” Bishop Thomas Paprocki said, following a the Conference on the Liturgical and Pastoral Practice of Exorcism that took place on November 12-13.

According to Bishop Paprocki, who chairs the Bishop’s Committee on Canonical Affairs, the program came about after an increasing number of inquiries from priests in the US.

He said that “the reality is that an exorcism is really rare. It’s really something rather extraordinary because possession – a person being possessed by a devil or demon – is also very rare.”

“Given the fact that possession and exorcisms are rare, people tend to think that that’s the only activity of the Devil,” and they mistakenly think that “if I’m not possessed, I don’t need to worry about the Devil,” he said.

However, it’s “quite the opposite,” he explained. “The ordinary work of the Devil is temptation and everybody has to face that everyday.”

“The ordinary response to dealing with temptation” can be found in “the ordinary means of spiritual life that the church offers: the Sacraments, going to Confession, receiving Holy Communion, saying prayers and devotions, the Rosary, blessings, Holy Water, things like that,” he said.

“And in fact, I would go so far as to say that the Sacrament of Penance is more powerful than an exorcism.

“An exorcism is a type of blessing in effect – it’s a sacramental – whereas the Sacrament of Penance is actually a sacrament,” the bishop explained.

“So if we live a good life, a good spiritual life that’s sound, we don’t need to worry about that.”

FULL STORY Over 100 Catholic clergy attend exorcism training in Baltimore (Catholic News Agency)


Vatican not collaborating with Discovery Channel’s exorcism series, says spokesman

Vatican City, January 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) The Vatican’s Press Office director Fr. Federico Lombardi has denied claims that there is any official collaboration between the Holy See and the Discovery Channel for a series called “The Exorcist Files.” Publicity for the show was “misleading.”

The network was reputed to be “teaming up with the Vatican” to recreate documented cases of haunting and possession, Inside TV said on January 5. The report included several statements from Discovery Channel president W. Clark Bunting on the difficulty and nature of an apparent agreement with the Vatican.

Bunting claimed that produ