By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Famed Italian exorcist, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, said the sexual abuse scandal in the Church, along with those who are misreporting it in order to discredit the Pope, is “prompted by the devil.”
The Catholic News Agency is reporting that in an interview with Italian media this week, the 85 year-old exorcist singled out the defamatory and inaccurate reporting by The New York Times as an example of how the devil is behind the attacks on the Pope.
“There is no doubt about it,” he said. “Because he is a marvelous Pope and worthy successor to John Paul II, it is clear that the devil wants to ‘grab hold’ of him.”
He also said that the devil “uses” the priests who are involved in sexual abuse as a way to discredit the entire Church. “The devil wants the death of the Church because she is the mother of all the saints . . . He combats the Church through the men of the Church, but he can do nothing to the Church.”
The fact that Satan tempts holy men should not surprise us because the devil tempts everyone – even priests. “They also live in the world and can fall like men of the world,” Fr. Amorth said.
In an interview last month with CNN, he took it a step further. “The devil tempts everyone — people in politics, in economics, in sport. And naturally, he tempts, above all, the religious leaders, so you shouldn’t be surprised if the devil tempts those in the Vatican. That’s his job.”
People can be both tempted – and possessed – by Satan, he said. “I’m saying that if you believe in the Gospels, you believe in the existence of the devil, in the devil’s power to possess people.”
Fr. Amorth, who has performed more than 70,000 exorcisms since becoming an exorcist in 1986, explained the difference between temptation and exorcism. In possession, the devil takes control of someone’s body and actions; in temptation, he seduces the person into commiting evil. The latter is the device used to lure priests into sexual abuse and says he has never performed an exorcism on a pedophile.
“I have carried out exorcisms on some priests who had been molested by the devil,” he said, “but cases of pedophilia exorcised, no. … Pedophiles are not possessed by the devil, they are tempted by the devil,” he said.
“They don’t need exorcism, they need to be converted, to be converted to God, that’s what they need. They need to confess, they need true penitence, true repentance, that’s what they need. They’re not possessed.”
However, no one is too strong a believer to be possessed, he warns. “Nothing occurs without the permission of God, and he allows even holy people, even saints, to be possessed by the devil,” he told CNN.
Even though he recently said that Satan had managed to infiltrate some people in the hierarchy of the Church, he sees no evil in the Vatican today: “I just see good people in the Vatican. People of prayer, holy people, I don’t see any evil.”
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