Fr. Gabriele Amorth, that is.
A reader sent me a link to
THIS ARTICLE ON A RECENT INTERVIEW THAT FR. AMORTH GAVE
(CHT to the reader!)
and I was considering whether to blog it when I noticed that the same article was linked on the Drudge Report, so just about every other person in the world will see it, and I knew I had to deal with the issue.
First, let's deal with the material in the article itself: The headline is a claim by Fr. Amorth expressing a personal opinion of his that Hitler and Stalin were possessed.
Is that true?
They were both the leaders of massive, unimaginably inhuman movements that caused millions of deaths and untold suffering. They both were enraptured by evil, dehumanizing ideologies whose consequences were written in blood.
Is it too far to think that the devil might take a special interest in influencing such gentlemen? Of course not. To the contrary. I think it would be quite reasonable to think that the devil took a lively interest in influencing both of them and spurring them on to greater and greater evil.
Did this amount to full-blown possession, with personality displacement and all that?
I don't know. All I can say is that it wouldn't surprise me, but I would be hesitant to give interviews expressing the opinion that they were actually possessed unless I had pretty clear evidence of that and not just conjecture based on a knowledge of how much evil they did.
Which leads to the question: What kind of evidence does Fr. Amorth have? I don't know. The article doesn't say. and I don't have access to the original interview, which was probably in Italian anyway.
Not having any indication of whether Fr. Amorth has specific evidence of possession, I then find myself asking whether Fr. Amorth is the kind of individual who would be careful that he had solid evidence before making such claims.
No. He's not.
This is evident in the article itself from the following quotation:
"I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed."
Huh? Really? All of the members of the Nazi Party? Without exception? They all had full-blown cases of possession with personality displacement? Even the teacher in B16's school who helped him avoid attending Hitler Youth meatings?
The fact is that Fr. Amorth is an individual given to making sweeping statements that are not firmly grounded and that are subject to a credulous mindset that is too ready to see possession (full-blown or not).
How else can one explain his claim--in his book An Exorcist Tells His Story--to have performed thirty THOUSAND exorcisms in a nine year period? That's nine exorcisms PER DAY for nine years--Sundays included!
If this claim is remotely accurate then the man is a walking exorcism factory.
It is simply impossible to reconcile this claim with the Church's requirements for the performance of exorcisms, which include (among other things) diligent evaluation of the individuals to be exorcised to determine that they are not simply suffering from psychological illness.
One more recent report indicates that the number of exorcisms he has performed had risen to 50,000 as of 2001.
It is therefore very difficult to place much weight in claims made by Fr. Amorth on such matters.
Which left me scratching my head about one claim made in the article, that Pius XII attempted to have a "long-distance" exorcism performed on Adolph Hitler.
I couldn't take Fr. Amorth's word for this, of course, but I did some independent research, and it seems to be true. I'll have more info on that when I can get it.
Oh, and I should mention something else about Fr. Amorth. He is often credited--as he is in the article--as "the Vatican's chief exorcist" and (somewhat more colorfully) as "Benedict XVI's 'caster out of demons.'" This is not true.
There is no "chief exorcist" position at the Vatican. Fr. Amorth is a priest of the Diocese of Rome who happens to be one of a number of exorcists there. He is the most well-known and prominent of them, but this does not give him the position of "chief exorcist of the Vatican."
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