'Not Believing In The Devil Is The Main Cause Of Atheism' Says Priest Who Insists Pope Francis DID Perform An Exorcism
The Catholic Church’s leading exorcist says he will ask Pope Francis to grant all priests the power to perform the ritual amid what he describes as “a huge demand” for the service.
Father Gabriele Amorth, who claims to have carried out 160,000 exorcisms himself, says he was prompted to make the request after witnessing what he insists was the Pope carrying one out in St Peter’s Square earlier this month.
Francis was filmed placing his hands on the head of a boy sitting in a wheelchair after a Pentecost Mass.
Father Gabriele Amorth claims to have performed 160,000 exorcisms himself
The boy, who was accompanied by a priest, appeared to convulse, with his mouth dropping wide open before exhaling deeply. (Scroll down for video.)
The Vatican played down reports Francis had applied the religious practice of evicting demons, with a spokesman claiming the Pope “didn’t intend to perform any exorcism.”
But in an interview with The Sunday Times, Amorth remains adamant an exorcism was carried out and appears to suggest the ritual will help balance the growth of atheism.
He said: “The Pope’s exorcism is a splendid sign because one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the Devil any more. But Jesus said: ‘Who is not with me is with Satan.’ If you don’t believe in Satan, Satan has got you in his pocket.
Pope Francis was filmed after a Pentecost Mass earlier this month
“The priest told Francis: ‘Look, this is a young man who is possessed by the Devil.’
"And the Pope blessed him and prayed over him, it was a real and proper exorcism. The Pope prayed that the Lord liberate this man. It was a prayer of liberation.”
The 88-year-old, who is the head of the International Association of Exorcists, told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper: “The Pope is also the Bishop of Rome, and like any bishop he is also an exorcist.
"It was a real exorcism. If the Vatican has denied this, it shows that they understand nothing.
Last year the Catholic diocese of Milan created a special exorcism hotline to cope with demand for the service.
Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist since 1995, told IncrociNews: “We get many requests for names, addresses and phone numbers; that’s why we’ve set up a switchboard in the curia from Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm.”
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Exorcism is (1) the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice; (2) the means employed for this purpose, especially the solemn and authoritative adjuration of the demon, in the name of God, or any of the higher power in which he is subject.
The former Pope, Benedict XVI never performed an exorcism, while Francis is on record as having performed them, as was Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II, the Irish Independent reports.
Amorth’s comments come as the Vatican was forced to clarify atheists will still go to hell if they reject God – after Pope Francis broke with tradition to deliver a homily stating non-believers who do good will be redeemed through Jesus.
The Pope’s words made headlines around the world after he gave an unprepared speech in which he emphasised the importance of “doing good” as a principle which unites all humanity.
After international media attention, the Vatican attempted clarify how exactly one gets in to heaven, with Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, saying that people who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
That is, atheists [and non-Catholics] are still going to hell.
However there was still hope for the sinful among us, as “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”
The Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning of “salvation,” on Thursday, May 23, after media reports circulated indicating that Pope Francis” promised heaven for everyone engaged in good works, including atheists.
In response to the media attention, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
(Translation: Atheists are going to Hell if they don’t accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.)
Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.
The current theological confusion began after the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made comments during the homily of his morning Mass on Wednesday, May 22, indicating that atheists would enjoy the fruits of eternal salvation if they were good people. Francis said:
The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!
We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.
Atheists and other nonbelievers largely welcomed Wednesday’s (May 22) remarks by Pope Francis that performing “good works” is not the exclusive domain of people of faith, but rather a place where they and atheists could and should meet.
In a private homily, Francis described doing good not as a matter of faith, but of “duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness.”
Then, referring to non-Catholics and nonbelievers, he said, “if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”
Reaction among American nonbelievers ranged from mild surprise to warm welcome. Some say they see Francis’ remarks as a sign that nonbelief — atheism, humanism and other forms of freethought — is being normalized, while others see recognition of what they say they have known all along: Having no faith does not mean having no morality.
"We are a community that is just trying to do good and live good lives, just like most communities are," said Greg Epstein, Harvard University’s Humanist chaplain and author of "Good Without God." ”His statement is an acknowledgment of that. It is welcome and it is gratifying."
Epstein was struck by the contrast of Francis’ remarks and Tuesday’s broadcast of an interview by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer of an Oklahoma tornado victim. When Blitzer asked the woman if she wanted to thank God for her family’s survival, she replied she is an atheist.
"You have this small example of this soft-spoken young mother who is recovering from the tornado who by her presence, her quiet dignity, not only exemplified what the pope was saying, but overshadowed him," Epstein said. "The quiet dignity of her just being a person and so clearly a good and loving person, it makes my reaction, and I would think a lot of people’s reaction (to Francis’ remarks), ‘Well, of course.’"
Dale McGowan also affirmed the pope’s recognition of nonbelievers. His Foundation Beyond Belief collects funds from nonbelievers and distributes them to charities and relief organizations and organizes teams of secular volunteers. To date, Foundation Beyond Belief has raised more than $35,000 for victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
"Anything that decreases the mistrust and fear between people is a good thing," he said. "Some people might say it contradicts past statements (of other popes), but I don’t care about any of that. It is terrific when a position evolves to where we can put division behind us, and this is an example of that and I think it is great."
D.J. Grothe, president of the James Randi Education Foundation, an organization of skeptics, said he hears echoes of the landmark Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in Francis’ remarks. And while he takes issue with some policies of the Catholic Church — the promotion of miracles, the opposition to contraception — the pope’s address was nonetheless “refreshing.”
Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, was a vocal opponent of secularism and unbelief, even as he approved a new initiative called “Courtyard of the Gentiles” to engage in dialogue with nonbelievers and linked arms with outspoken Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, an atheist who saw trouble in the growth of European Islam.
"I don’t see that disdain for nonbelief that was so apparent before" in other popes, Grothe said. "He is really talking about what I would call humanism — the ethical approach to making the world a better place without recourse to supernatural beliefs."
In the same homily, Francis said all people, “even the atheists,” are “redeemed” through “the Blood of Christ” — the Christian belief that the sins of humanity are wiped clean through the crucifixion of Jesus. The inclusion of atheists in a belief they do not share seemed to raise few hackles.
"He was using his own language and speaking from his own beliefs," McGowan said, a statement echoed by others. "That is not the point. The point is he is saying, ‘I don’t fear you,’ and I think that is a lovely thing."
The pope also said “killing in the name of God” is blasphemy”.
First Latin American Pope, first Pope to pay his own hotel bill, the first Jesuit Pope, first Pope to take the name Francis, first Pope to decline riding in the Pope-mobile….
first Pope to call for transparency in the worlds most systemic child rape cover up, the first Pope to acknowledge equal rights for gay people, and the first Pope to value the bodily autonomy of women.