Bagging the Devil 1

In case you were thinking that it’s only in backward countries like Nigeria (see our post Children tortured by Christians, March 9, 2010) that priests try to exorcise evil spirits, here is a delicious story from the TimesOnline about similar (though presumably less cruel) goings on in the Vatican.

Enjoy!

Sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”, according to the Holy See’s chief exorcist.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has been the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that the consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon”.

He added: “When one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ [a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972] in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia.” …

Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Rome-based exorcist, said that Father Amorth had “gone well beyond the evidence” in claiming that Satan had infiltrated the Vatican corridors.

“Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God,” he said. Some Vatican officials were more pious than others, “but from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of satanic sects is an unacceptable distance.” …

Father Amorth said … it sometimes took six or seven of his assistants to hold down a possessed person. Those possessed often yelled and screamed and spat out nails or pieces of glass, which he kept in a bag. “Anything can come out of their mouths – finger-length pieces of iron, but also rose petals.”

He said that hoped every diocese would eventually have a resident exorcist. Under Church Canon Law any priest can perform exorcisms, but in practice they are carried out by a chosen few trained in the rites.

Father Amorth was ordained in 1954 and became an official exorcist in 1986. … He was among Vatican officials who warned that J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels made a “false distinction between black and white magic“. [So his own magic is … ? – JB]

He approves, however, of the 1973 film The Exorcist, which although “exaggerated” offered a “substantially exact” picture of possession.

In 2001 he objected to the introduction of a new version of the exorcism rite, complaining that it dropped centuries-old prayers and was “a blunt sword” about which exorcists themselves had not been consulted. The Vatican said later that he and other exorcists could continue to use the old ritual.

He is the president of honour of the Association of Exorcists.

A wisp called Wanda 0

Harmless nonsense, for the most part, is what goes on in the Vatican now, and it can be quite entertaining.

From the Telegraph:

The late Pope John Paul II could be beatified within months, setting him on the path to full sainthood.

The mayor of Rome, who would play a pivotal role in organizing the event, said the beatification of John Paul is expected to take place “at the latest” by 2010. …

Vatican observers say the most likely date for the beatification would be April next year, on the fifth anniversary of the popular Pontiff’s death.

Beatification precedes canonisation and involves a complicated process including the verification of miracles attributed to the person being considered.

A miracle normally takes the form of the curing of a disease or affliction which has no scientific explanation. A second miracle is then required for sainthood.

In John Paul’s case, the miracle under consideration is said to have taken place when a French nun was cured of Parkinson’s disease.

The process leading to sainthood usually takes decades, but Pope Benedict XVI launched the beatification process for John Paul just two months after his predecessor’s death on April 5, 2005.

However, a wisp of a shadow threatens the proceedings:

During the summer, the former Pope’s spokesman said the beatification process would not be delayed by the publication in Poland of correspondence between John Paul and a female compatriot.

Wanda Poltawska, who was one of a handful of people by the Pope’s bedside when he died, published a book with extracts of letters that she exchanged with John Paul, whom she met in 1962 while he was in Krakow. It is due to be published in Italy in February.

There is no suggestion that they had a romantic relationship, but some Roman Catholic Church officials were reportedly annoyed that she had “exaggerated” her friendship with the late pontiff and that the relationship would have to be scrutinised as part of the beatification process.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who ran the Vatican press office for 22 years, said there was no special connection between Mrs Poltawska, 88, and the former Pope.

Posted under Christianity by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 2, 2009

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