“I, afraid of that beast? It is he who should be afraid of me: I work in the name of the Lord of the world. He is just the monkey of God.”
—Father Gabriele Amorth, the famous Italian exorcist who was the exorcist for the diocese of Rome for the last 30 years, since 1986, referring to the devil. Father Amorth died today in Rome at the age of 91.
“Stefano Maria Paci: Father Amorth, Satanism is increasingly widespread. The new exorcism ritual makes it difficult to do exorcisms. Exorcists are prevented from attending an audience with the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. Tell me honestly: what is happening?
Father Gabriele Amorth: The smoke of Satan enters everywhere. Everywhere! Maybe we were excluded from the papal audience because they were afraid so many exorcists would be able to chase out the legions of demons that have taken up residence in the Vatican.
Paci: You’re kidding, right?
Amorth: It may seem a joke, but I think it is no joke. I have no doubt that the devil tempts especially the leaders of the Church, as he tempts all leaders…
Paci: Are you saying that here, as in any war, Satan wants to conquer the opposing generals?
Amorth: It is a winning strategy. One always tries to implement it. Especially when the defenses of one’s opponents are weak. Satan also tries. But thankfully there is the Holy Spirit who governs the Church: ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail.’ Despite the defections. And despite the betrayals. Which should cause us no surprise. The first traitor was one of the apostles closest to Jesus, Judas Iscariot. But despite this, the Church continues on her way. She is held up by the Holy Spirit and therefore all the efforts of Satan can have only partial results. Of course, the devil can win some battles. Even important ones. But never the war.”
—from a 2001 interview between Italian journalist Stefano Maria Paci and Father Gabriele Amorth, published in the June 2001 issue of 30 Giorgi magazine.
In September 2006, 10 years ago, I received several letters from readers asking me if the new, post-Vatican II ritual of exorcism was as valid and effective as the old, pre-Vatican II ritual. I replied that I knew little about the matter, but would try to talk about the issue with Father Gabriele Amorth, the exorcist of the city of Rome since 1986. Two of these readers flew to Rome to accompany me for the conversation.
We drove over to a section of Rome near the via Cristoforo Colombo and parked the car. As we walked up to the address, located on a city block filled with residential apartment buildings, the music to the song “YMCA” was blasting out over the street from one of the open windows.
Father Amorth greeted us warmly and ushered us into his office, which had the appearance of a kitchen, with a sink and stove at one end of the room.
But, since he did not know who we were, having never met us before, he asked if we would agree to answer three questions, and then to allow him to pray over us, one by one, before we began our interview. We agreed.
I was the first to sit down on a chair at the end of the room.
He moved his stole so that half of it was over my neck and shoulder while half remained over his neck and shoulder. Then he asked me the questions.
“Do you attend Sunday Mass regularly, every Sunday?” he asked. “Do you pray the Rosary? Do you go regularly to confession?”
After I gave him my answers, he began to pray over me, reciting a series of prayers, while I sat there. After a time, my eyes slowly closed. He then tapped on my head and then, with his fingers, raised my eyelids to look deeply into my eyes. I still remember the intensity of his gaze, just a few inches from my face. Then he continued to pray and at a certain moment, he finished, and said to me: “I declare you free of any evil spirits.”
He asked the same questions and prayed the same prayers over my two companions, each of whom heard him say the same final words, declaring them free of evil spirits.
Only then did we begin a long conversation about the Church today, about his work as an exorcist, and related matters, that continued for almost two hours.
I asked him how the new rite compares to the old rite, and whether concerns about the new rite are legitimate.
He said the new rite is legitimate, but that its prayers are less precise and powerful against the devil than the prayers of the old rite, so he prefers to do exorcisms in the old rite, and does so.
He also said that whe he and one other exorcist went to the Vatican to try to gain a hearing for their concerns about the revisions in the rite, only one cardinal came to their assistance: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who defended their continued use of the old rite.
Though now he has passed away, I would like to express thanks to him for the hospitality he showed to me that day, and for the prayers that he prayed over us.
Gabriele Amorth was born in Modena, in northern Italy, on May 1, 1925. He died today in Rome at the age of 91.
He was a Catholic partisan soldier at the end of the Second World War, and active after the war in Catholic Action, the youth movement of the Christian Democratic Party
He was ordained a priest in 1954 at the age of 29. An excellent writer, he published many articles in Italy’s leading Catholic magazine, Famiglia Cristiana.
Passionate about Mariology, he became the editor of the Catholic monthly magazine Madre di Dio (“Mother of God”). He was a member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy.
In 1986, the Pope’s cardinal vicar for the diocese of Rome, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, named Amorth the exorcist for the diocese.
He was a student of Father Candido Amantini, who for many years was the exorcist at the Scala Santa (the Holy Stairs) in Rome (the stairs believed to be those which Christ walked up to his trial before Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, brought to Rome by St. Helena in the early 4th century, in about the year 326 A.D.). Today, many pilgrims go to those steps and walk up them on their knees, praying.
In various interviews, Amorth said he had carried out more than 50,000 exorcisms over the years, some taking him just a few minutes, others taking many hours of prayer.
Amorth also said that he had only been faced with about 100 cases of real demonic possession in all those tens of thousands of cases.
Most of the cases, he said, were either “disturbances” caused by the devil, or simple mental illnesses.
In an interview with Stefano Maria Paci of 30 Giorni in 2001, Amorth sharply criticized the post-Vatican II revision of the rite of exorcism.
“The old Ritual should have been amended, not entirely redone,” Amorthsaid. “There were prayers used for 12 centuries. Before canceling prayers so old which for centuries had proven effective, we should hesitate. But instead, no. All of us exorcists, using the prayers of the new interim Ritual, have experienced that they are totally ineffective… The new Book of Blessings has painstakingly removed any reference to the fact that the Lord must protect us from Satan, that the angels protect us from the assaults of the devil. They removed all the prayers that there were for the blessing of homes and schools. Everything should be blessed and protected, but today the protection from the devil does not exist anymore. There are no more defenses or even prayers against him. Jesus himself taught us a prayer of liberation, in the Our Father: ‘Deliver us from the Evil One. Deliver us from Satan.’ In Italian it has been translated incorrectly, and today we say: ‘Deliver us from evil.’ We speak of a generic evil, which we do not know the origin of, but the evil which our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to fight is a concrete person: Satan.”
Amorth tells Paci that the “greatest victory” of the devil is to persuade us that he does not exist.
In another interview (link), Amorth once said that he believed the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as requested by Our Lady of Fatima in her apparitions to Sister Lucy, had not been done fully.
“The Consecration has not yet been made,” he said. “I was there on March 25 (1984) in St. Peter’s Square, I was in the front row, practically within touching distance of the Holy Father. John Paul II wanted to consecrate Russia, but his entourage did not, fearing that the Orthodox would be antagonized, and they almost thwarted him. Therefore, when His Holiness consecrated the world on his knees, he added a sentence, not included in the distributed version, that instead said to consecrate “especially those nations of which you yourself have asked for their consecration.” So, indirectly, this included Russia. However, a specific consecration has not yet been made. You can always do it. Indeed, it will certainly be done…”
Amorth died today in Rome after several days in the hospital of Santa Lucia.
May he rest in peace, and may eternal light shine upon him.