was originally published in the June 2000 issue of 30 Days, a Catholic magazine based
The Smoke of Satan in the House of the Lord
Father Amorth, the Italian translation of the new Ritual for Exorcists
is finally ready.
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.
30 Days: A
heavy accusation. What is it that you are thinking of?
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
The declarations contained in the New Ritual are very serious and very
damaging. They are the fruit of ignorance and inexperience.
30 Days: But
wasn't the New Ritual put together by specialists?
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.
30 Days: How
is that possible?
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.
30 Days: And
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
30 Days: Of
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.
30 Days: How
were your observations received?
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.
30 Days: Does
this mean then that, for you, the New Rite is unusable in the struggle
against the demon?
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.
30 Days: What
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 it".
"Willingly accords it"? That is a very strange concession...
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.
30 Days: How
do you exorcists see your position within the Church?
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.
30 Days: And
the most striking manifestation of this hostility?
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 ecclesiastical authorities.
30 Days: You
fight against the demon every day. What is Satan's greatest success?
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.
30 Days: You
did not mention France. Is the situation any different there?
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.
30 Days: Is
it down to the bishop to appoint exorcists?
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
30 Days: Do
you mean to say that the majority of the bishops in the Catholic Church
are in a state of mortal sin?
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.
30 Days: But
if one does not believe in the existence of Satan, does one's faith
remain intact, is it still the Catholic faith?
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?
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.
30 Days: For
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
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.
30 Days: You
are in a privileged observation position: is it your impression that
Satanism is spreading?
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 seances 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 seance. 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.
30 Days: And
does this work?
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.
30 Days: How
does the demon set about seducing people?
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.
30 Days: How
many cases of demonic possession have you encountered?
About a hundred. I have stopped counting.
30 Days: A
hundred? But that is an enormous number. In your book you say that
cases of possession are rare.
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.
30 Days: 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.
30 Days: How
does one become a victim of the demon?
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.
30 Days: Has
the devil ever harmed you personally?
When Cardinal Poletti asked me to take on this role of exorcist, I
recommended myself to the Virgin: "Envelop me in Thy mantle and I will
be in total security." The demon has often threatened me, but he has
never harmed me.
30 Days: Don't
you ever feel afraid of the demon?
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
30 Days: 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?
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.
30 Days: You
are joking, aren't you?
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
30 Days: 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
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
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.
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