June 23, 2007
The Devil doesn’t like Latin
So starts a Times (of London) article on demonic possession and exorcism, obviously hot topics in the 21st—or should that be 12th?—century. Let’s hear from Father Gabriele Amorth, Rome’s exorcist-in-chief:
Where psychiatry and therapy require a person to look within to solve his or her problems, exorcism and blaming the Devil allows a person to escape introspection and instead discern only external causes for problems. But Amorth and other practitioners quickly dismiss the criticism. “Exorcism is God’s true miracle,” Amorth likes to say.
“We of the Bible know that evil spirits are angels created as good by God and who then rebelled against God,” Amorth said during one of our chats at the Society of St Paul congregational residence in suburban Rome, where, in a back room, he conducts exor-
cisms… “Naturally, everybody defends themselves according to their own culture and mentality… perhaps resorting to witchdoctors or what have you. But all people, all the time, have a perception that spirits of evil exist, which it is necessary to protect against.”
Recognising demonic possession—the “discernment,” as it is called—is the first and very difficult aspect of an exorcism. This is most commonly achieved by seeing how the patient responds to religious symbols such as holy water or a crucifix. For example, the person has a great aversion to entering a church or cannot bear to face a priest.
Perhaps I should make an appointment.
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