The author, Stefano Maria Paci, relates: "We went to
visit him largely because a few weeks ago, on 15 May, the
Italian translation of the new Rite for Exorcisms was approved
by the CEI. All this ritual now needs for it to be adopted is
the placet of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments. Is it a new weapon deployed by the
Church to combat the enemy? To chase out, if this has still not
been done, this smoke that has entered the Lord’s temple?
Think again! Let us listen to what Father Amorth has to say. You
will discover that the war which has been going on for thousands
of years is raging more strongly than ever, that the battle has
moved on and is now being waged inside the very house of the
Lord. And this smoke… This smoke…ah! it is spreading into
some quite unsuspected quarters."
Father Amorth, the Italian translation of the new
Ritual for Exorcists is finally ready.
Fr. Gabriele Amorth: Yes, it is ready. Last year the
CEI didn't want to approve it because it contained errors in the
translation from Latin to Italian. And we exorcists, the ones
who would have to use it, we took the opportunity to point out
that, on a number of points, we were in disagreement with the
New Ritual. But the underlying Latin text has remained the same
in this revised translation. This long-awaited Ritual has turned
into a farce. An incredible obstacle that is likely to prevent
us acting against the demon.
A heavy accusation. What is it that you are thinking
Fr. Amorth: I will give you but two examples. Two
spectacular examples. Point 15 treats of evil spells and how one
should behave when dealing with them. An evil spell is an evil
brought about on a person by means of recourse to the devil. It
can be accomplished under a variety of forms like spells,
curses, the evil eye, voodoo and macumba. The Roman Ritual used
to explain how one should confront it. The New Ritual on the
other hand categorically declares that it is absolutely
forbidden to perform exorcisms in such cases. Absurd. Evil
spells are by far the most frequent causes of possessions and
evil procured through the demon: at least 90% of cases. It is as
good as telling exorcists they can no longer perform exorcisms.
Then Point 16 solemnly declares that one should not carry out
exorcisms if one is not certain of the presence of the devil.
This is a masterstroke of incompetence: the certainty that the
devil is present in someone can only be obtained by carrying out
an exorcism. What is more, the authors of the Ritual failed to
notice that on two points they were contradicting the Catechism
of the Catholic Church. For this points out that exorcism should
be practiced in cases of diabolical possession and in those of
evil caused by the demon. And it also recommends that it be
performed on people as well as on things. And in things, there
is never the presence of the demon, there is only his influence.
The declarations contained in the New Ritual are very
serious and very damaging. They are the fruit of ignorance and
But wasn't the New Ritual put together by
Fr. Amorth: Not at all! During these last ten years, two
commissions worked on the Ritual; one which was made up of
cardinals and which was responsible for the Praenotanda, that is
to say the initial provisions, and the other which was
responsible for the prayers. I can affirm with certainty that
none of the members of these commissions had ever performed an
exorcism, had ever been present at an exorcism and ever
possessed the slightest idea of what an exorcism is. Here lies
the error, the original sin of this Ritual. Not one of those who
collaborated on it was an exorcism specialist.
How is that possible?
Fr. Amorth: It is not me you should be asking. At the
Vatican II Ecumenical Council, each commission was aided by a
group of experts who assisted the bishops in their work. And
this custom was kept up after the Council, every time that parts
of the Ritual were redrafted. But not this time. And yet, if
there were ever a subject that demanded the participation of
specialists, it was truly this.
Fr. Amorth: And yet we exorcists were never consulted.
And what is more, any suggestions that we were able to make were
unfavorably received by the commissions. It is a paradoxical
history. Do you want me to tell you what happened?
Fr. Amorth: As Vatican Council II had requested, the
various parts of the Roman Ritual were gradually revised. We
exorcists were waiting for title 12 to be addressed, that is to
say the Exorcism Ritual. But apparently this Ritual was not
considered an important subject, for the years went by and
nothing happened. Then, quite unexpectedly, on 4 June 1990,
there was published a Ritual ad interim, that is a trial Ritual.
This was a real surprise for us, as we had not been consulted
beforehand. And yet we had prepared a whole series of requests
in view of the Ritual's revision. We were asking, among other
things, that the prayers might be amended so that invocations to
the Virgin, which were completely absent, might be incorporated,
and that the number of prayers specifically relating to exorcism
might be augmented. But we were not given the chance to make any
kind of contribution.
However, we were not discouraged: after
all the text had been drawn up for us. And as in his letter of
presentation, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship
at the time, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, had asked the
Episcopal Conferences to send in, over the following two years,
"any advice and suggestions made by priests who would make use
of it," we got down to work. I brought together eighteen
exorcists, chosen from among the most expert on the planet. We
examined the text with great attention. We used it. We
immediately commended the first part in which the evangelical
foundations of exorcism were summarized. This part deals with
the biblical and theological aspect of the question, and on this
head no lack of competence was apparent. It is a new section not
found in the Ritual of 1614, which was composed under Pope Paul
V; besides, at that time, there was no need to recall these
principles, since the whole world knew them and accepted them.
Today, on the contrary, this is indispensable. But when
we came to examine the practical part that demands a specific
knowledge of the subject, the total inexperience of the writers
really showed through. We made numerous observations, article by
article, and we sent these on to all interested parties: the
Congregation for Divine Worship, the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, end the Episcopal Conferences. One copy
was handed directly to the Pope.
How were your observations received?
Fr. Amorth: Badly, and they achieved nothing. We had
taken our inspiration from the dogmatic constitution Lumen
gentium in which the Church is described as the "People of
God." In number 28, it speaks of priests collaborating with
bishops, and in number 37 it is clearly stated – and this
applies to the laity also – that "by reason of the knowledge,
competence and preeminence they enjoy, they are empowered,
indeed sometimes obliged, to manifest their opinion on things
that pertain to the good of the Church." This is exactly what
we did. And we were ingenuous enough to think that the
directives of Vatican II had found their way into the Roman
Congregations. But instead we found ourselves up against a wall
of rejection and derision.
The Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship
gave a report to the Commission of Cardinals in which he said
that those who had contacted him were bishops and not priests
and exorcists. And with regard to our own humble attempt to help
them by giving our advice as specialists, he added – and I
quote verbatim –, "One should also take note of the fact that
a group of exorcists and “demonologues”, who subsequently
formed themselves into an international Association, were busy
orchestrating a campaign against the rite." An indecent
accusation: we have never orchestrated a campaign! The Ritual
was intended for us, and yet not one competent person had been
called upon by the commissions; so it was only to be expected
that we should seek to make our contribution.
Does this mean then that, for you, the New Rite is
unusable in the struggle against the demon?
Fr. Amorth: Yes. They were looking to give us a blunt
weapon. Efficacious prayers, prayers that had been in existence
for twelve centuries, were suppressed and replaced by new
ineffective prayers. But, as luck would have it, they threw us a
lifeline at the last moment.
What was that?
Fr. Amorth: The new Prefect of the Congregation for
Divine Worship, Cardinal Jorge Medina, attached to the Ritual a
Notification in which he specified that exorcists were not
obliged to use this Ritual and that, if they wished, they could
ask their bishop for authorization to use the old one. The
bishops must in their turn ask for authorization from the
Congregation which, as the Cardinal writes, "willingly accords
"Willingly accords it"? That is a very strange
Fr. Amorth: Do you want to know where it comes from? It
comes from an attempt made by Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and by Cardinal
Medina to introduce into the Ritual an article – it was
article 38 at that time – which would authorize exorcists to
use the previous Ritual. It was undoubtedly a maneuver in
extremis to fend off on our behalf the grave errors found in the
definitive Ritual. But the two cardinals failed in their
attempt. Then Cardinal Medina, who had understood what was at
stake in this matter, decided to grant us this lifeline anyway
and he added a separate note.
How do you exorcists see your position within the
Fr. Amorth: We are very badly treated. Our brother
priests who are charged with this delicate task are treated as
though they are crazy, as fanatics. Generally speaking they are
scarcely even tolerated by the bishops who have appointed them.
And the most striking manifestation of this
Fr. Amorth: We organized an international congress of
exorcists near Rome. We asked to be received by the Pope. To
avoid pressurizing him and adding yet another audience to those
he had already granted, we simply asked to be received in a
public audience, that of Wednesday in Saint Peter's. We were not
even asking him to address us his personal greetings. We made
our request for an audience in the proper manner, as will be
perfectly recalled by Mgr. Paolo de Nicolo of the Prefecture of
the Pontifical House, who received our request very warmly. But
on the day before the audience, Mgr Nicolo told us – to tell
the truth, he was very embarrassed and it was very apparent that
the decision did not depend on him – not to present ourselves
at the audience, and that we had not been admitted.
Unbelievable: 150 exorcists from five continents, men appointed
by their bishops in accordance with the rules of canon law which
requires that they be men of prayer, knowledge and good
reputation – and thus in some way the cream of the clergy –
ask to take part in a public audience with the Pope and are
shown the door! Mgr Nicolo told me, "I promise to immediately
send you a letter explaining the situation." Five years have
passed and I am still waiting for this letter. It [was]
certainly not John Paul II who excluded us.[???] But the fact that
150 priests should be forbidden to take part in a public
audience with the Pope in Saint Peter's shows what kind of
obstacles exorcists encounter even within their own Church and
to what extent they are frowned upon by a great number of
Father Amorth, You fight against the demon every day. What is
Satan's greatest success?
Fr. Amorth: To succeed in making people believe that he
doesn't exist. And in this he has almost succeeded. Even within
the Church. We have a clergy and an episcopate who no longer
believe in the devil, in exorcisms, in the extraordinary evil
that the devil can cause, nor in the power that Jesus has given
us to drive out demons.
For three centuries, the Latin Church in
contrast with the Orthodox Church and various Protestant
confessions – has almost entirely abandoned the ministry of
exorcism. As the clergy no longer practice exorcisms, as they no
longer study them and have never seen them, they no longer
believe in them. And nor do they believe in the devil either. We
have entire episcopates who are hostile to exorcisms. There are
countries in which there is not a single exorcist, as for
example Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. A terrifying
You did not mention France. Is the situation any
Fr. Amorth: There is a book written by Isidore Froc, the
best known French exorcist, entitled: Exorcists, who are they
and what do they do? This work, translated into Italian, was
written at the request of the French Episcopal Conference.
Nowhere in this book is it stated that exorcists, in certain
cases, perform exorcisms. And the author has several times
stated on French television that he has never performed an
exorcism and that he would never do so. Out of a hundred French
exorcists, there are but five who believe in the devil and carry
out exorcisms. All the rest send those who contact them to the
psychiatrist. And the bishops are the main victims of
this situation of the Catholic Church in which belief in the
existence of the demon is in the process of disappearing.
Before this new manual appeared, the German episcopate
sent a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger in which they declared that
there was no need to create a new Ritual because exorcisms
should no longer be performed.
Is it down to the bishop to appoint exorcists?
Fr. Amorth: Yes. When a priest is appointed bishop, he
is faced with an article in the Code of Canon Law which gives
him absolute authority to appoint exorcists. The minimum one can
ask of a bishop is that he has taken part in at least one
exorcism, given that he has to make such an important decision.
Unfortunately, this is almost never the case. But if a bishop
finds himself before a serious request for an exorcism – that
is to say one that has not been made by someone deranged – and
he does nothing, he commits a mortal sin. And he is then
responsible for the terrible sufferings endured by this person.
Sufferings which sometimes last for years or even an entire
lifetime, and which he could have prevented.
Do you mean to say that the majority of the bishops
in the Catholic Church are in a state of mortal sin?
Fr. Amorth: When I was a child, my old parish priest
taught me that there are eight sacraments: the eighth is
ignorance. And the eighth saves more than all the others
together. To commit a mortal sin, there must exist grave matter,
but also full awareness and deliberate consent. To fail to give
one's aid is, for bishops, a grave matter. But these bishops are
ignorant: there is therefore no deliberate consent and full
But if one does not believe in the existence of Satan, does
one's faith remain intact, is it still the Catholic faith?
Fr. Amorth: No. I will tell you a story. When I met Don
Pellegrino Ernetti for the first time, a celebrated exorcist who
had practiced in Venice for forty years, I said to him, "If I
could speak to the Pope, I would tell him that I meet too many
bishops who do not believe in the devil." The following
afternoon, Father Ernetti came back to see me to tell me that
that same morning he had been received by John Paul II.
"Holiness," he had said to him, "there is an exorcist here in
Rome, Father Amorth who, if he met you, would tell you that he
knows too many bishops who do not believe in the devil." The
Pope answered him briefly: "He who does not believe in the
devil does not believe in the Gospel." That is the reply which
was given to him and which I repeat.
Explain to me if you would: does this mean that
there are many bishops and priests who are no longer Catholic?
Fr. Amorth: Let us say that they do not believe in a
Gospel truth. Therefore, I would possibly accuse them of
propagating a heresy. But let us understand: someone is only
formally heretical if he is accused of committing an error and
he persists in it. But because of the situation in the Church
today, no one would ever accuse a bishop of not believing in the
devil or in demonic possession and of not appointing exorcists
because he has no belief in these things. I could mention a
great number of bishops and cardinals who, as soon as they had
been appointed to a diocese, withdrew from all exorcists the
faculty of exercising their powers. Or of bishops who openly
maintain: "For myself, I do not believe in these things. They
are beliefs of the past." Why is this? Because unfortunately
there has been an extremely pernicious influence exerted by
certain biblical experts, and I could mention the names of some
very well-known people. We who every day come into close contact
with the world beyond, we know that this influence has had a
hand in many of the liturgical reforms.
Fr. Amorth: Vatican Council II had asked for certain
texts to be revised. But this order was disobeyed, as there
was a desire to rewrite them all from scratch. No thought was
given to the possibility of making things worse rather than
better. And many rites were spoiled by this mania for
jettisoning everything from the past and of rebuilding
everything from top to bottom, as though the Church had, until
today, hoodwinked and misled us, and as though there had now
finally arrived a time of great geniuses, of super-theologians,
of super-biblicists, of super-liturgists, who knew how to give
the Church what was sound. It is all a lie: the last Council
simply asked for these texts to be revised, not to be destroyed.
The Exorcism Ritual, for example, was to be revised, not
rewritten. There were prayers in it which had been in use for
twelve centuries. Before suppressing these ancient prayers which
had proved so efficacious, one should have thought long and
hard. But no! We exorcists have all tried out the new prayers in
the New Ritual ad interim and we have come to realize that they
are absolutely ineffectual.
But the rite of baptism for
children has also been spoiled. It has been so drastically
overhauled that the exorcism against Satan has virtually been
eliminated. This had always held a very great importance for the
Church, so much so that it is called the minor exorcism. Paul VI
himself publicly protested against this new rite.
We find the same degeneration of the rite in the new
benedictionary. I have read its 1200 pages minutely. Well! any
reference to the fact the Lord must protect us against Satan,
that the angels protect us from the attacks of the demon, has
been systematically suppressed. All the prayers for the blessing
of homes and schools have been suppressed. Everything should be
blessed and protected, but today there is no longer any
protection against the demon. There no longer exists any defense
or any prayers against him. This same Jesus had taught us a
prayer for liberation in the Our Father: "Deliver us from the
Evil One. Deliver us from the Person of Satan." This prayer has
been mistranslated and today people pray saying, "Deliver us
from evil." One speaks of a general evil whose origin is
essentially unknown. But the evil against which Our Lord Jesus
taught us to fight is, on the contrary, a concrete person: it is
You are in a privileged observation position: is it
your impression that Satanism is spreading?
Fr. Amorth: Yes. Enormously. When the faith retreats,
superstition makes progress. In biblical terms, I can say that
people are abandoning God to give themselves up to occultism.
The terrible retreat of the faith throughout the whole of
Catholic Europe makes people throw themselves into the arms of
magicians and fortunetellers, and satanic sects prosper. Devil
worship is the object of great publicity among the masses
through satanic rock and celebrities like Marilyn Manson.
Children are also under attack: there are magazines and comic
strips that teach magic and Satanism. Spiritualist
seances in which the dead are called up to answer certain
questions are very widespread. People are now being taught to
perform spiritualist séances through the computer, the
telephone, the television, the video recorder, but above all
through automatic writing. No longer is there a need for a
medium: this is a spiritualism that each can practice by
himself. According to polls, 37% of students have on at least
one occasion played the game with letters and a glass, which is
a veritable spiritualist séance. In a school where I had been
invited to speak, the students told me that they used to play
this game during the religion lesson, under the obliging eyes of
And does this work?
Fr. Amorth: There is no difference between white magic
and black magic. When magic works, it is always the work of the
demon. Every form of occultism, like this widespread resort to
the religions of the East with their esoteric suggestions, are
open gateways to the demon. And the devil enters. At once.
In the case of the Sister who was killed at Chiavenna
and in that of Erika and Omar, the two adolescents from Novi
Ligure who killed Erika’s mother and little brother, I had no
hesitation in stating immediately that diabolical intervention
was involved, because these children had given themselves up to
Satanism. The police inquiry subsequently showed that they were
following Satan, that they had satanic books.
How does the demon set about seducing people?
Fr. Amorth: His strategy is always along the same lines.
I have told him this and he admits it… He makes people believe
that hell does not exist, that sin does not exist, and that he
is nothing but one more experience to try out. Concupiscence,
success and power are the three great passions on which Satan
How many cases of demonic possession have you
Fr. Amorth: About a hundred. I have stopped counting.
A hundred? But that is an enormous number. In your
book you say that cases of possession are rare.
Fr. Amorth: And indeed they are. Many exorcists have
encountered nothing but cases of diabolical harm. But I have
inherited the “clientele” of a famous exorcist, Father
Candido, and therefore cases which he had not as yet resolved.
Moreover, exorcists send me their more resistant cases.
What is the most difficult case you have ever met?
Fr. Amorth: It is one I am “treating” at this
moment, and that for two years now. It is the young girl who was
blessed – it was not a true exorcism – by the Pope in
October, at the Vatican, and whose case caused a great stir in
the press. She is buffeted twenty-four hours a day and is the
victim of unspeakable torments. The doctors and psychiatrists
can make nothing of this. She is completely lucid and very
intelligent. A truly sad case.
How does one become a victim of the demon?
Fr. Amorth: One can be subjected to the attacks of the
demon in four cases. Either because it constitutes a blessing
for the person and such is the case with many of the saints, or
because of irreversible persistence in sin, or because one is
the victim of a curse uttered in the name of the demon, or else
when one gives oneself up to practices of occultism.
During the exorcism of possessed persons, what kind
of phenomena occur?
Fr. Amorth: I recall an illiterate peasant who, during
an exorcism, spoke to me only in English and I had to have an
interpreter. There are people who manifest a superhuman
strength, others who completely levitate from the ground and
whom it is impossible even for several men to keep seated in
their armchair. But it is only the context in which these
phenomena occur which makes us speak of demonic possession.
Has the devil ever harmed you personally?
Fr. Amorth: When Cardinal Poletti asked me to take on
this role of exorcist, I recommended myself to the Virgin:
"Envelope me in Thy mantle and I will be in total security."
The demon has often threatened me, but he has never harmed me.
Don’t you ever feel afraid of the demon?
Fr. Amorth: Me, for that animal? It is he who should be
afraid of me; I act in the name of the Lord of the world. But as
for him, he is nothing but God’s monkey.
Father Amorth, Satanism is spreading more and more
widely. The New Ritual, in practice, prevents the carrying out
of exorcisms. Exorcists are prevented from taking part in an
audience with the Pope in Saint Peter’s. Tell me frankly: what
is going on?
Fr. Amorth: The smoke of Satan has entered everywhere.
Everywhere! Perhaps we were excluded from the audience with the
Pope because they were afraid that such a large number of
exorcists might succeed in chasing out the legions of demons
that have installed themselves in the Vatican.
You are joking, aren't you?
Fr. Amorth: It may seem like a joke, but I do not
believe it is. I have no doubt about the fact that the demon
tempts the authorities of the Church especially, just as he
tempts every authority, those of politics and industry.
Are you saying then that here as well, as in all
wars, Satan wishes to conquer the enemy's stronghold in order to
take the enemy generals prisoner?
Fr. Amorth: It is a winning strategy. It is one that is
always applied. Especially when the adversary's defenses are
weak. Satan is also attempting it. But, thank Heaven, it is the
Holy Spirit Who directs the Church: "The gates of hell will
never prevail." Despite the defections. And despite the
betrayals, about which one should not be surprised. The first
betrayal was the work of one of the closest Apostles of Jesus:
Judas Iscariot. Yet, despite this, the Church continues
on her way. The Holy Spirit keeps her going and that is why
Satan’s attacks can only be partially successful. Admittedly,
the demon may win battles, and even important battles. But never