March 5, 2002
volume 13, no. 42

The smoke of satan in the house of the Lord

Part Two

"You want proof of the devil's existence? Show me a man who denies his existence. There's your proof. Cardinal John Henry Newman

by Stefano Maria Paci
    The following is the second of a two-part interview reprinted from 30 Days in June 2001 in a frank, revealing discussion with the Church's chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth conducted by Stefano Maria Paci. Fr. Amorth does not mince words in describing the situation today in the Church, especially in the Vatican itself for he acknowledges that satan has indeed penetrated the hallowed halls and infected countless souls by his insidious campaign to corrupt Holy Mother Church. Though Fr. Amorth points out in this candid conversation that Jesus Christ has assured us"the gates of hell shall not prevail against it", the devil is trying and for Fr. Amorth and others conferred with the very grave responsibility of performing exorcism sometimes their own hands are terribly tied and that can bode well only for the evil one.

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 deficiency.

You did not mention France. Is the situation any different there?

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 awareness. [???]

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.

For example?

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 Satan.

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 the teacher.

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 relies.

How many cases of demonic possession have you encountered?

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 the war.

For the first part of this interview, see Part One of The smoke of satan in the house of the Lord

Note: [editor's bold, brackets and italicized for emphasis]

March 5, 2002
volume 13, no. 42
FOCUS on the Story of the Day