Tag:  Exorcism

A Man Of Science Encounters Demonic Possession 

A Man Of Science Encounters Demonic Possession 

One June evening, a small group of nuns and priests met the woman in the chapel of a house Though it was warm outside, a palpable chill settled over the room.

As the priests began to pray, the woman slipped into a trance — and then snapped to life. She spoke in multiple voices: One was deep, guttural and masculine; another was high-pitched; a third spouted only Latin. When someone secretly sprinkled ordinary water on her, she didn’t react. But when holy water was used, she screamed in pain.

“Leave her alone, you f***ing priests,” the guttural voice shouted. “Stop, you whores. … You’ll be sorry.”

You’ve probably seen this before: a soul corrupted by Satan, a priest waving a crucifix at a snarling woman. Movies and books have mimicked exorcisms so often, they’ve become clichés.

The 1973 film "The Exorcist" shaped how many see demonic possession.

The 1973 film “The Exorcist” shaped how many see demonic possession.

But this was an actual exorcism — and included a character not normally seen in the traditional drive-out-the-devil script.

Dr. Richard Gallagher is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified psychiatrist who teaches at Columbia University and New York Medical College. He was part of the team that tried to help the woman.

Fighting Satan’s minions wasn’t part of Gallagher’s career plan while he was studying medicine at Yale. He knew about biblical accounts of demonic possession but thought they were an ancient culture’s attempt to grapple with mental disorders like epilepsy. He proudly calls himself a “man of science.”

Yet today, Gallagher has become something else: the go-to guy for a sprawling network of exorcists in the United States. He says demonic possession is real. He’s seen the evidence: victims suddenly speaking perfect Latin; sacred objects flying off shelves; people displaying “hidden knowledge” or secrets about people that they could not have possibly have known.

“There was one woman who was like 90 pounds soaking wet. She threw a Lutheran deacon who was about 200 pounds across the room,” he says. “That’s not psychiatry. That’s beyond psychiatry.”

Gallagher calls himself a “consultant” on demonic possessions. For the past 25 years, he has helped clergy distinguish between mental illness and what he calls “the real thing.” He estimates that he’s seen more cases of possession than any other physician in the world.

“Whenever I need help, I call on him,” says the Rev. Fr. Gary Thomas, one of the most famous exorcists in the United States. The movie “The Rite” was based on Thomas’ work.

“He’s so respected in the field,” Thomas says. “He’s not like most therapists, who are either atheists or agnostics.”

Gallagher is a big man — 6-foot-5 — who once played semipro basketball in Europe. He has a gruff, no-nonsense demeanor. When he talks about possession, it sounds as if he’s describing the growth of algae; his tone is dry, clinical, matter-of-fact.

Possession, he says, is rare — but real.

“I spend more time convincing people that they’re not possessed than they are,” he wrote in an essay for The Washington Post.

Some critics, though, say Gallagher has become possessed by his own delusions. They say all he’s witnessed are cheap parlor tricks by people who might need therapy but certainly not exorcism. And, they argue, there’s no empirical evidence that proves possession is real.

Still, one of the biggest mysteries about Gallagher’s work isn’t what he’s seen. It’s how he’s evolved.

How does a “man of science” get pulled into the world of demonic possession?

His short answer: He met a queen of Satan.

A ‘creepy’ encounter with evil

She was a middle-aged woman who wore flowing dark clothes and black eye shadow. She could be charming and engaging. She was also part of a satanic cult.

She called herself the queen of the cult, but Gallagher would refer to her as “Julia,” the pseudonym he gave her.

The woman had approached her local priest, convinced she was being attacked by a demon. The priest referred her to an exorcist, who reached out to Gallagher for a mental health evaluation.

Why, though, would a devil worshipper want to be free of the devil?

She was conflicted,” Gallagher says. “There was a part of her that wanted to be relieved of the possession.”

She ended up relieving Gallagher of his doubts. It was one of the first cases he took, and it changed him. Gallagher helped assemble an exorcism team that met Julia in the chapel of a house.

Objects would fly off shelves around her. She somehow knew personal details about Gallagher’s life: how his mother had died of ovarian cancer; the fact that two cats in his house went berserk fighting each other the night before one of her sessions.

Julia found a way to reach him even when she wasn’t with him, he says.

He was talking on the phone with Julia’s priest one night, he says, when both men heard one of the demonic voices that came from Julia during her trances — even though she was nowhere near a phone and thousands of miles away.

He says he was never afraid.

“It’s creepy,” he says. “But I believe I’m on the winning side.”

How a scientist believes in demons

He also insists that he’s on the side of science.

He says he’s a stickler for the scientific method, that it teaches people to follow the facts wherever they may lead.

Growing up in a large Irish Catholic family in Long Island, he didn’t think much about stories of possession. But when he kept seeing cases like Julia’s as a professional, he says, his views had to evolve.

Some priests say those who dabble in the occult are opening doorways to the demonic.

Some priests say those who dabble in the occult are opening doorways to the demonic.

“I don’t believe in this stuff because I’m Catholic,” he says. “I try to follow the evidence.”

Being Catholic, though, may help.

Gallagher grew up in a home where faith was taken seriously. His younger brother, Mark, says Gallagher was an academic prodigy with a photographic memory who wanted to use his faith to help people.

“We had a sensational childhood,” Mark Gallagher says. “My mother and father were great about always helping neighbors or relatives out.” Their mother was a homemaker, and their father was a lawyer who’d fought in World War II. “My father used to walk us proudly into church. He taught us to give back.”

Gallagher’s two ways of giving back — helping the mentally ill as well as the possessed — may seem at odds. But not necessarily for those in the Catholic Church.

Contemporary Catholicism doesn’t see faith and science as contradictory. Its leaders insist that possession, miracles and angels exist. But global warming is real, so is evolution, and miracles must be documented with scientific rigor.

One of Gallagher’s favorite sources of inspiration is Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Fides et Ratio” (“On Faith and Reason”). The Pope writes that “there can never be a true divergence between faith and reason, since the same God who reveals the mysteries and bestows the gift of faith has also placed in the human spirit the light of reason.”

The church’s emphasis on faith and reason can even be seen in the birth of its exorcism ritual.

The Rite of Exorcism was first published in 1614 by Pope Paul V to quell a trend of laypeople and priests hastily performing exorcisms on people they presumed were possessed, such as victims of the bubonic plague, says the Rev. Fr. Mike Driscoll, author of “Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World.”

“A line (in the rite) said that the exorcist should be careful to distinguish between demon possession and melancholy, which was a catchall for mental illness,” Driscoll says. “The church knew back then that there were mental problems. It said the exorcist should not have anything to do with medicine. Leave that to the doctors.”

Doctors, perhaps, like Gallagher.

Gallagher says the concept of possession by spirit isn’t limited to Catholicism. Muslim, Jewish and other Christian traditions regard possession by spirits — holy or benign — as possible.

This is not quite as esoteric as some people make it out to be,” Gallagher says. I know quite a few psychiatrists and mental health professionals who believe in this stuff.”

Dr. Mark Albanese is among them. A friend of Gallagher’s, Albanese studied medicine at Cornell and has been practicing psychiatry for decades. In a letter to the New Oxford Review, a Catholic magazine, he defended Gallagher’s belief in possession.

He also says there is a growing belief among health professionals that a patient’s spiritual dimension should be accounted for in treatment, whether their provider agrees with those beliefs or not. Some psychiatrists have even talked of adding a “trance and possession disorder” diagnosis to the DSM, the premier diagnostic manual of disorders used by mental health professionals in the US.

There’s still so much about the human mind that psychiatrists don’t know, Albanese says. Doctors used to be widely skeptical of people who claimed to suffer from multiple personalities, but now it’s a legitimate disorder (dissociative identity disorder). Many are still dumbfounded by the power of placebos, a harmless pill or medical procedure that produces healing in some cases.

There’s a certain openness to experiences that are happening that are beyond what we can explain by MRI scans, neurobiology or even psychological theories,” Albanese says.

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a psychiatrist who specializes in schizophrenia, arrived at a similar conclusion after he had an unnerving experience with a patient.

Lieberman was asked to examine the videotape of an exorcism that he subsequently dismissed as unconvincing.

Then he met a woman who, he said, “freaked me out.”

Lieberman, director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, says he and a family therapist were asked to examine a young woman who some thought was possessed. He and his colleague tried to treat the woman for several months but gave up because they had no success.

The film "The Rite" is based on the life of the Rev. Gary Thomas, one of the leading exorcists in the US.

The film “The Rite” is based on the life of the Rev. Gary Thomas, one of the leading exorcists in the US.

Something happened during the treatment, though, that he still can’t explain. After sessions with the woman, he says, he’d go home in the evenings, and the lights in his house would go off by themselves, photographs and artwork would fall or slide off shelves, and he’d experience a piercing headache.

When he mentioned this to his colleague one day, her response stunned him: She’d been having the exact same experiences.

“I had to sort of admit that I didn’t really know what was going on,” Lieberman says. “Because of the bizarre things that occurred, I wouldn’t say that (demonic possession) is impossible or categorically rule it out … although I have very limited empirical evidence to verify its existence.”

The tragic case of the real ‘Emily Rose’

If you want to know why so many scientists and doctors like Lieberman are cautious about legitimizing demonic possession, consider one name: Anneliese Michel.

Michel was a victim in one of the most notorious cases of contemporary exorcism. If you have the stomach for it, go online and listen to audiotapes and watch videos of her exorcisms. The images and sounds will burn themselves into your brain. It sounds like somebody dropped a microphone into hell.

Michel was a German Catholic woman who died of starvation in 1976 after 67 exorcisms over a period of nine months. She was diagnosed with epilepsy but believed she was possessed. So did her devout Roman Catholic parents. She reportedly displayed some of the classic signs of possession: abnormal strength, aversion to sacred objects, speaking different languages.

But authorities later determined that it was Michel’s parents and two priests who were responsible for her death. German authorities put them on trial for murder, and they were found guilty of negligent homicide. The 2005 film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” was based on Michel’s ordeal and the subsequent trial.

One of the leading skeptics of exorcism — and one of Gallagher’s chief critics — is Steven Novella, a neurologist and professor at Yale School of Medicine.

He wrote a lengthy blog post dissecting Gallagher’s experience with Julia, the satanic priestess. It could be read as a takedown of exorcisms everywhere.

He says Julia probably performed a “cold reading” on Gallagher. It’s an old trick of fortune tellers and mediums in which they use vague, probing statements to make canny guesses about someone. (Fortune teller: “I see a recent tragedy in your family.” Client: “You mean my sister who got hurt in a car accident? How did you know?”)

Or take the case of a person speaking an unfamiliar language like Latin during a possession.

A patient might memorize Latin phrases to throw out during one of their possessions,” Novella wrote. “Were they having a conversation in Latin? Did they understand Latin spoken to them? Or did they just speak Latin?”

Novella says it’s noteworthy that no one has filmed any paranormal event such as levitation or sacred objects flying across the room during an exorcism. He’s seen exorcism tapes posted online and in documentaries and says they’re not scary.

“They’re boring,” he says. “Nothing exciting happens. The most you get is some really bad play-acting by the person who is being exorcised.”

In an interview, Novella went further and criticized any therapist who believes his patient’s delusions.

“The worst thing you can do to a patient who is delusional is to confirm their delusions,” says Novella, who founded the New England Skeptical Society.

“The primary goal of therapy is to reorient them to reality. Telling a patient who is struggling that maybe they’re possessed by a demon is the worst thing you can do. It’s only distracting them from addressing what the real problem is.”

The 2005 horror film "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" was loosely based on the death of Anneliese Michel.

The 2005 horror film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” was loosely based on the death of Anneliese Michel.

Driscoll, the Catholic priest who wrote a book about possession, is not a skeptic like Novella. Still, he says, it’s not unusual for people on drugs or during psychotic episodes to display abnormal strength.

“I have seen it take four grown guys to hold one small woman down,” says Driscoll, a chaplain at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, Illinois. “When a person has no fear and is not in their right mind and they don’t care about hurting themselves or hurting others, you can see heartbreaking things.”

That doesn’t mean he thinks possession isn’t real. He says the New Testament is full of accounts of Jesus confronting demons.

“Do I still believe it happens? Yes, I do,” he says. “It happened then. I don’t know why it would be totally eradicated now.”

Gallagher agrees and has answers for skeptics like Novella.

He says demons won’t submit to lab studies or allow themselves to be easily recorded by video equipment. They want to sow doubt, not confirm their existence, he says. Nor will the church compromise the privacy of a person suffering from possession just to provide film to skeptics.

Gallagher says he sees his work with the possessed as an extension of his responsibilities as a doctor.

In a passage from a book he is working on about demonic possession in America, he says that it is the duty of a physician to help people in great distress “without concern whether they have debatable or controversial conditions.”

Gallagher isn’t the first psychiatrist to feel such duty. Dr. M. Scott Peck, the late author of “The Road Less Traveled,” conducted two exorcisms himself — something Gallagher considers unwise and dangerous for any psychiatrist.

“I didn’t go volunteering for this,” he says. “I went into this because different people over the last few decades realized that I was open to this sort of thing. The referrals are almost invariably from priests. It’s not like someone is walking into my office and I say, ‘You must be possessed.’ “

What happened to Satan’s queen

He may not have asked to join the “hidden” world of exorcism, but he is an integral part of that community today. He’s been featured in stories and documentaries about exorcism and is on the governing board of the Rome-based International Association of Exorcists.

“It’s deepened my faith,” he says of the exorcisms he’s witnessed. “It didn’t radically change it, but it validated my faith.”

He says he’s received thanks from many people he’s helped over the years. Some wept, grateful to him for not dismissing them as delusional. As for letting a journalist talk to any of these people, Gallagher says he zealously guards their privacy.

Belief in possession exists in many religious traditions. Here, a man enters a state of possession during an African voodoo ceremony.

Belief in possession exists in many religious traditions. Here, a man enters a state of possession during an African voodoo ceremony.

Julia, though, gave him permission to tell her story. But it didn’t have a happy ending.

He and a team of exorcists continued to see her, but eventually, she called a halt to the sessions. She was too ambivalent. She relished some of the abilities she displayed during her trances. She was “playing both sides.”

“Exorcism is not some kind of magical incantation,” Gallagher says. “Normally, a person has to make their own sincere spiritual efforts, too.”

About a year after she dropped out, Gallagher says, he heard Julia’s voice on the phone again. This time, she had called to tell him she was dying of cancer.

Gallagher says he offered to try to help her with a team of priests while she was still physically able, but her response was terse:

“Well, I’ll give it some thought.”

He says he never heard from her again.

Inevitably, there will be others. His phone will ring. A priest will tell him a story. A team of clergy and nuns will be summoned. And the man of science will enter the hidden world of exorcism again.

The critics, the souls that aren’t saved, the creepy encounters — they don’t seem to deter him.

Truly informed exorcists don’t tend to get discouraged,” he says, “because they know it is our Lord who delivers the person, not themselves.”

Is Gallagher doing God’s work, or does he need deliverance from his own delusions?

Perhaps only God — and Satan — knows for sure.

Source:

CNN 

‘Exorcismo Magno’: Can An Entire Country Be Infested With Demons? Here Are Reasons To Believe So

‘Exorcismo Magno’: Can An Entire Country Be Infested With Demons? Here Are Reasons To Believe So

Pope Francis


Can a country with deep Christian roots like Mexico find itself at the mercy of demons? Some in the Church fear so.

And as a result, they called for a nation-wide exorcism of Mexico, carried out quietly in May 2015 in the cathedral of San Luis Potosí.

High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of exorcism, known as “Exorcismo Magno.”

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, presided at the closed doors ceremony, the first ever in the history of Mexico.

Also participating were Archbishop Jesús Carlos Cabrero of San Luis Potosí, Spanish demonologist and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, and a smaller group of priests and lay people.

The event was not made known to the general public beforehand. According to Archbishop Cabrero, the reserved character of the May 20 ceremony was intended to avoid any misguided interpretations of the ritual.

But how can an entire country become infested by demons to the point that it’s necessary to resort to an Exorcismo Magno?

“To the extent sin increases more and more in a country, to that extent it becomes easier for the demons to tempt (people),” Fr. Fortea told CNA.

The Spanish exorcist warned that “to the extent there is more witchcraft and Satanism going on in a country, to that extent there will be more extraordinary manifestations of those powers of darkness.”

Fr. Fortea said that “the exorcism performed in San Luís Potosí is the first ever carried out in Mexico in which the exorcists came from different parts of the country and gathered together to exorcise the powers of darkness, not from a person, but from the whole country.”

“This rite of exorcism, beautiful and liturgical, had never before taken place in any part of the world. Although it had taken place in a private manner as when Saint Francis (exorcised) the Italian city of Arezzo,” he stated.

The Spanish exorcist explained, however, that the celebration of this ritual will not automatically change the difficult situation Mexico is going through in a single day.

“It would be a big mistake to think that by performing a full scale exorcism of the country everything would automatically change right away.”

Nevertheless, he emphasized that “if with the power we’ve received from Christ we expel the demons from a country, this will certainly have positive repercussions, because we’ll make a great number of the tempters flee, even if this exorcism is partial.”

“We don’t drive out all the evil spirits from a country with just one ceremony. But even though all will not be expelled, those that were removed are not there anymore.”

Fr. Fortea emphasized that “when the exorcists of a country drive out its demons, it has to be done in faith. You’re not going to see anything, feel anything, there’s not going to be any extraordinary phenomenon. We have to have faith that God conferred on the apostles a power, and that we can use this power.”

“In any case, if this ritual were to be carried out in more countries once in a year, before or after, this would put an end to any extraordinary manifestations which would show us the rage of the devil. Because, without a doubt, the demons hate to be driven out of a place or to be bound with the power of Christ.”

The Spanish exorcist said that “it would be very desirable that when there’s an annual meeting of exorcists in a country, a ritual such as this exorcismo magno that took place in Mexico be performed.”

He also emphasized that a bishop “can authorize its occurrence once a year with his priests in the cathedral.”

“The bishop is the shepherd and he can use the power he has received to drive away the invisible wolves from the sheep, since Satan is like a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour, and the shepherds can drive away the predator from the victim,” he concluded.

Source:

CNA/EWTN News

‘The Devil Does Not Love The Family…There Is A Demon That Attacks The Family’ – Rome Exorcist

‘The Devil Does Not Love The Family…There Is A Demon That Attacks The Family’ – Rome Exorcist

Exorcist, Father César Truqui, a priest who participated in a 2015 course on exorcism held in Rome, said there’s a demon that specializes in attacking the family.

Fr. Truqui warned that everything that is harming the family, including divorce, pleases the devil.

Speaking to the Italian weekly Tempi in 2015, the priest said that there is “a demon who specializes in the attack on the family, also cited in the story of Tobias, called ‘Asmodeus.’”

In the Old Testament book, the demon is known to have killed seven of Sarah’s husbands and was chained in the desert by Archangel Raphael. The demon “is present” in many exorcisms, Fr. Truqui said.

The priest recalled encountering the demon “in exorcisms by Father Gabriele Amorth and Father Francisco Bamonte, whom I assisted.” The recently-deceased Fr. Amorth was a renowned exorcist in Rome who has performed an estimated 70,000 exorcisms over the course of 29 years. Carrying out an exorcism can require multiple sessions and each time the rite is administered it is counted as one instance.

“I remember a young couple, very united, who wanted to get married, however, the woman had to undergo an exorcism to be set free,” Fr. Truqi said.  

During the exorcism “the demon was furious and threatened Fr. Amorth in order to prevent the marriage, otherwise he would kill the young woman. Obviously, it was a threat from the Liar which in fact did not happen.”

In that regard, the priest added that the devil also seeks to attack the family through ideologies and lifestyles, as well as individualistic thinking and the spread of divorce.

“They think ‘if I don’t like my husband anymore, I would be better off divorcing’ but they forget about the consequences to the children and society,” he said. “This mentality that works against the family pleases the devil – he knows that a man who is alone without any points of reference is manipulable and unstable.”  

“Even today, and I’m more than 50 years old, just thinking that my mother and father love each other forever, I find comfort and courage. In contrast, the children of separated parents are more fragile and wavering,” he said.

In 2014, Pope Francis gave an address to the Charismatic Renewal, in which he pointed out that the devil seeks to destroy families because that is where Jesus grows, in the midst of the love of the spouses and in the lives of their children.

“He grows in the love of the spouses, he grows in the lives of the children. And  that’s why the enemy attacks the family so much. The devil does not love the family. He seeks to destroy it, he wants to eliminate love there,” he warned at Rome’s Olympic stadium before 52,000 people.

On that day Francis reminded that “families are these domestic churches. The spouses are sinners, like everyone, but they want to progress in the faith, in their fruitfulness, in the children and their children’s faith.”

And so he asked the Lord to “bless the family, make it strong, in this crisis in which the devil wants to destroy it.”

This article was originally published May 26, 2016.

How Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Delivered 3 Men From Demonic Possession 

How Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Delivered 3 Men From Demonic Possession 

Anecdote from the book ‘Exorcist by Profession,’ the testimony of a disciple of Fr. Gabriele Amorth.


A Mexican priest who was an assistant to Roman exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth for four years says: “you never forget your first case of authentic possession”. 

The first one he saw was that of Charles, a French nobleman, who began to feel bad after a spiritual retreat in Dijon, in Burgundy (France). He would go into trances inexplicably, and nothing and nobody could free him.

In the book Exorcist by Profession (Professione esorcista in Italian), authors Fr. Cesare Truqui and Chiara Santomiero, a journalist specializing in the Vatican, explain how an exorcist establishes a dialogue with the presumed victim of the evil one. Once the case is proven to be real—excluding the possibility that it is a strictly psychiatric or medical problem—the exorcist obliges the devil to reveal himself through prayer and questions.

Such was the case of Charles—a tall man (6’3″), happily married, father of one child, whom Benedict XVI freed from the devil just with the power of prayer. The voice that came from the body of the possessed man identified itself: “I am the prince of the world.” Arrogant and haughty in the face of experienced exorcist Francesco Bamonte, it declared, “You are no match for me!” “Who, then?” the exorcist asked; “The pope or a bishop,” the infernal voice replied.

Charles was a normal, successful man, from a wealthy family and noble heritage. The morning of the spiritual retreat, he assaulted with unusual strength someone who was on the retreat with him who had approached him, concerned by his reaction to the prayer. He went through endless appointments with psychiatrists, specialists, and priests. No one could explain his situation, and it was driving him and his family crazy.

Fr. Bamonte felt that he was losing the spiritual battle with Satan on the battleground of Charles’ suffering body, so he consulted Fr. Gabriel Amorth, who encouraged him not to let himself be fooled or frightened. Yet, Satan insisted that only the pope could force him out of Charles’ body.

Charles’ situation got worse. Consequently, they counseled him to write directly to Pope Benedict XVI. The letter made it to the pope by means of a trusted priest, through the Secretariat of State. The answer arrived a week later, signed by the secretary of Pope Ratzinger, promising that the pope would pray for the possessed man.

Benedict XVI offered Masses for the intention of the man’s liberation. Truqui tells that three months later he received a call from Fr. Bamonte: “Father, you’re not going to believe me, but I think that Charles has been liberated!” During the last exorcism, Charles gave a shout of freedom and got up, happy.

The only explanation, according to Truqui, is the powerful prayer of the pope, which forced Satan to his knees. It turns out that Charles’ parents, unknown to him, had made a diabolic pact and offered him, as a child, as tribute in exchange for power and money, together with his twin brother, who was stillborn.

Truqui, who today is a professor during the annual course on exorcism and prayer of liberation organized by the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome (taking place for the 13th time this April 16-21), recounts that he was not frightened by that first contact with a possession; rather, it was enlightening for him to be able to recognize the reality of the spiritual evil described in the Gospel.

A similar episode, also involving Pope Benedict XVI, took place in May 2009, and was described by Fr. Gabriel Amorth himself in the book The Last Exorcist (L’Ultimo exorcista in Italian).

On this occasion, the German pope, who turned 91 on April 16, helped cure two possessed young men, Marco and Giovanni, who were taken to St. Peter’s Square because they seemed not to improve despite the prayers and rite of exorcism. During the general audience that Wednesday, when the popemobile drew near them, they began to have convulsions and to have a strange look in their eyes.

Earlier, one of Fr. Amorth’s two assistants who were accompanying the young men had asked Giovanni how he was. “I’m not Giovanni,” growled a gravelly voice. The assistant didn’t respond, knowing “that only an exorcist can talk with the devil,” Amorth says in the book.

The Pope got out of the jeep and greeted the crowd. The possessed young men shook and drooled. One of the women who were helping shouted, “Your Holiness, Your Holiness, we’re here!” The Pope turned toward them, observing from a distance; unperturbed, he raised his arm and blessed them. The two possessed men felt a violent shake, and were thrown back three yards, Amorth recounts. The young men began to cry. As the popemobile drove away, both came back to themselves.

In the book he wrote with Santomiero, Truqui explains that the devil is afraid of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary—especially of the mother of Christ—but that Lucifer especially battles on earth against the one true Church founded by Christ.

Bishops are the only ones who can send priests as exorcists to carry out this special ministry. However, for a long time, this practice of liberation has been scorned by science and even by some churches that consider belief in possession to be both superstitious and anachronistic. This has led to a lack of prepared priests in some dioceses of northern Europe and other parts of the world.

According to experts in the field, in order to avoid giving publicity to false cases of possession that seem to support the assertion that possession is really just mental or physical illness, we must remember that true demonic possession rarely happens. Sante Babolin, another recognized exorcist, notes that in the thousands of cases that have been addressed in the Diocese of Padua, Italy, only a few—very few—are authentic possessions. Consequently, this is a problem that must be handled with prudence, expertise, and discretion.

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