How’s That Whole Enlightenment Thing Going?

Here (via the Daily Telegraph) is some remarkable news:

The Devil is lurking in the very heart of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican’s chief exorcist claimed on Wednesday. Father Gabriele Amorth said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron. He added that the assault on Pope Benedict XVI on Christmas Eve by a mentally unstable woman and the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, were proof that the Anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See.

“The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences,” said Father Amorth, 85, who has been the Holy See’s chief exorcist for 25 years. “He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, or even appear to be sympathetic. At times he makes fun of me. But I’m a man who is happy in his work.” While there was “resistance and mistrust” towards the concept of exorcism among some Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI has no such doubts, Father Amorth said. “His Holiness believes wholeheartedly in the practice of exorcism. He has encouraged and praised our work,” he added.

The Pope is not alone in sharing Amorth’s beliefs. I should imagine that the exorcist now serving as governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, is also an enthusiast for esoterica of this type. Amorth meanwhile has more details of what to expect when Old Nick is around:

In a rare insight into the world of exorcism, the Italian priest told La Repubblica newspaper that the 1973 film The Exorcist gave a “substantially exact” impression of what it was like to be possessed by the Devil. People possessed by evil sometimes had to be physically restrained by half a dozen people while they were exorcised. They would scream, utter blasphemies and spit out sharp objects, he said.

“From their mouths, anything can come out – pieces of iron as long as a finger, but also rose petals,” said Father Amorth, who claims to have performed 70,000 exorcisms. “When the possessed dribble and slobber, and need cleaning up, I do that too. Seeing people vomit doesn’t bother me. The exorcist has one principal duty – to free human beings from the fear of the Devil.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up. Well, maybe you could…Read the whole thing.

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13 Responses to How’s That Whole Enlightenment Thing Going?

  1. Susan says:

    Father Amorth doesn’t believe in personal responsibility? If you do something bad, the devil made you do it?

  2. Narr says:

    The Debbil isn’t strong enough to overcome a mere twelve puny humans?

    Enjoy the last days of the secular world, folks, it’s under concerted, and increasingly effective, attacks from the primitives.

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  4. Ross says:

    “Father Amorth, who claims to have performed 70,000 exorcisms.”

    70000! He’s been the chief exorcist for 25 years according to the article so that works out at around 7 a day.

    Does he have a conveyor belt method or is exorcism actually far easier than “The Exorcist” would have us believe.

  5. TAS says:

    Father Gabriele Amorth’s comments on the devil lurking everywhere remind me of various race hustler’s claims that racism is everywhere.

  6. Susan says:

    I don’t know about the conveyor belt, but he DOES have a Facebook page.

  7. Twain says:

    I went to Catholic schools for 16 years and nobody mentioned possession except to say people in the bible who were thought to be possessed had mental problems. Now they are coming out with this nonsense? They are going backwords.

    On the other hand,very few neuroscientists believe in free will now either. Free will is just a useful fiction.

  8. In related breaking news, Roman Catholicism restates its affirmation of the existence of God! C’mon — of course the Catholic Church believes in demons, etc. All that stuff is in the Bible. Now, one might believe that the Bible is hooey and that the Catholic Church is hooey, but given that church’s commitment to its beliefs, why is it considered somehow blameworthy for the church to affirm that point and govern its internal business in light of those beliefs?

    Weak sauce, Mr. Stuttaford. Weak sauce.

  9. Andrew Stuttaford says:

    Oh, I don’t know, Mark. I think that the *details* of that report would be a touch surprising to quite a few people who consider themselves to be good Roman Catholics. Twain’s comments (above) about what he was taught at an RC school are also worth noting in this connection…

  10. gene berman says:


    The more doctrinnaire materialists–the positivists–have always considered “free will” simply a fiction
    comfortable to the beliefs of their opponents. Are the neuroscientists in some fashion more persuasive?
    It’s pretty much always been a matter of “yer pays yer money an’ takes yer cherce.” Of course, the neuro guys are in good company–right in with Protestant fundies closest to Calvin (not to mention assorted Muslim jihadists and related nutcases). But I’m willing to set those considerations aside, since there’s no more evidence con than pro. Where I opt for free will, though, is the area of folks being held to some modicum of responsibility for their actions. Without freedom of will, where do we get off punishing people for actions of which we (strongly) disapprove (and have gone to considerable lengths to define in various moral and criminal codes)? At least the Catholic view gives some support to Law; neuroscience, it would seem, is the one maintaining “the Devil” (or some other constellation of atoms, molecules, and physical forces–not quite entirely definable at the present–but just you wait!) made him do it! As a further matter of fact, it would seem discussion and rationality itself are just figments of our imagination and have no legitimate place: what will be will be. I can;’t prove it’s not true–but I can act as though it ain’t.
    And so, my friend, will you. (Whether or not we’re actually in control of our actions.)

  11. Twain says:


    There can still be punishments if free will doesn’t exist. As Voltaire said, if someone sees another person being executed ,it might keep him from killing someone. There is a talk on the The Science Network called “Eye of the Vortex” and part of it discusses free will. They placed a magnet on a guys brain and told him to move his foot to the right, but he moved his foot to the left. They asked him after why he moved his foot to the left and he said he wanted to, but before they used the magnet he was going to move his foot to the right. He did what the brain told him to do , instead of him telling the foot what to do.

    Schopenhaur wrote, “A man can surely do what he wants to do.But he cannot determine what he wants.

    Here’s an interesting interview about free will.

  12. Eoin says:

    “Enjoy the last days of the secular world, folks, it’s under concerted, and increasingly effective, attacks from the primitives.”

    Thats absolutely the case. Particularly the Catholics are at our necks.

    Or are they?

    Catholicism is so strong in it’s control of it’s flock that no Catholic majority country has laws against homosexuality ( laws common in all countries a generation ago) and most have laws allowing homosexual civil partnership. in fact as far as I can see if born into a country with gay civil partnership laws, you are probably in a Catholic majority country.

    The vatican having an exorcist ( which, of course they have always had – its in the damn movie for chrissakes) is in these respects, neither here nor there, and Stuttaford is engaging in the age old Anglo Saxon pastime of Catholic bashing.

    I used to worry about the Islamic threat from a position of knowing no Muslims.

    My recent work in a London Office, however, has put some concerns to rest. On my first day, one of the Islamic girls there told the office a joke with a sexual punch line. The other Islamic girl laughed. As did everybody. Thats greater freedom than any American office, for the record.

    A self selecting group – working women? – maybe. I think as the demographics argument should take into account the already assimilated. To be honest with itself.

    So relax. The barbarians are not at our gate, but they feel that our barbarians are at theirs. Thats part of the problem.

  13. EO says:

    Many fellow Patriotic American put a lot faith in the Catholic Church
    as part of the Salvation for America present chaotic situation. However,
    the hierarchies of the Catholic Church both in America and in Rome, havetaken decisions which undermine American pillars such as; Individualism, rule of law , Capitalism , small government.
    While in Mexico, the Church does not offer sanctuary to the illegal aliens from Central America and openly support for obedience to the law, in America the Church , support breaking the rule of law regarding illegal aliens,
    The Church and many of her academic institution preach in favor of big government take over of the economy , supporting Obamacare, The Church which in the XIX played a great role in assimilating immigrants into America and supporting Patriotism in the mid XX up to now reversed such policy being one of the stronger supporter of the the mosaic and multiculturalism which is destroying America’s national identity and helping to the erosion and dissolution of our Republic. The new Pope created new seven deadly sin among them to have too much wealth, however, Communism, tyranny was not included among the sins.
    And many Catholic leaders spite of holding the Social Conservative values so cherish by many Patriotic Social Conservative Americans , also hold strong Anti Capitalist in favor of income distribution code name for Socialism.
    How many graduates from Catholic school and universities have been brainwashed into an Anti America Anti Capitalist so called Social Justice model? by both lay and clergymen teachers

    I am a believer in a Higher Power( God) and I am a patriotic American but I do not trust the hierarchy of the Catholic Church neither of other evangelical churches , because many especially among the new Evangelical are following the same path, in sexual issues moral conservative but in politics and economic , progressive code name for Socialism ?

    So , I wish that many talk radio hosts and Conservative pundits , who decry the attack on religion from the left,
    and the increase secularism and the distrust toward the Church hierarchic,
    will take a second look and will face that the hierarchy of the Churches which they support including the Vatican had thrown America under the bus, had sold America , has Betrayed America .

    And be religious, obedient to the Vatican and being Patriotic American is not longer necessary the same thing

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