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
Part Two of this revealing interview on the smoke of satan.
Note: [editor's bold, brackets and italicized for emphasis]