with Father Gabriele Amorth, an exorcist in Rome, was originally
published in the June 2000 issue of 30 Days, an Italian
Father Amorth, the Italian translation of the new Ritual for Exorcists
is finally ready.
Fr. 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
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?
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
30 Days: And yet?
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?
30 Days: Of course.
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
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?
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.
30 Days: 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
30 Days: 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 it".
30 Days: "Willingly accords it"? That is a
very strange concession...
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.
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?
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 ecclesiastical authorities.
30 Days: 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.
30 Days: 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.
30 Days: Is it down to the bishop to appoint
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.
30 Days: 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.
30 Days: But if one does not believe in the
existence of Satan, does one's faith remain intact, is it still the
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.
30 Days: Explain to me if you would: does
this mean that there are many bishops and priests who are no longer
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.
30 Days: 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.
30 Days: 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 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?
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.
30 Days: How does the demon set about
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.
30 Days: How many cases of demonic possession
have you encountered?
Fr. Amorth: About a hundred. I have stopped
30 Days: 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.
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
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.
30 Days: 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
Fr. Amorth: 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
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.
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? 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.
30 Days: 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.
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 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.
See also "The New Rite of Exorcism: The Influence of the Evil
One" by Father X at Latin Mass Magazine (off-site. Will open in new