Amorth, Father Gabriele
(1925– )
   EXORCIST of Vatican City in the Archdiocese of Rome. Dedicated to the abolition of satanic evil, Father Gabriele Amorth has personally handled more than 30,000 exorcisms around the world.
   Amorth believes that many modern-day pastimes and games—such as conjuring, playing with MAGIC (not illusion), conversing with a OUIJA™, listening to rock music, and having contact with satanic ritual and content—open the door for demonic POSSESSION. He says there are too few priests who believe in casting out devils (although JESUS bequeaths that ability to the apostles in his name: Mark 3:5, 10:8), much less have any training in the rites of EXORCISM.
   Amorth was born in Modena, Italy, on May 1, 1925. He received the faculty of exorcist by Cardinal Ugo Poletti, the pope’s vicar for the Diocese of Rome, in 1986, studying under Father Candido Amantini, a Passionist priest, who served as chief exorcist for 36 years. When Father Amantini passed away on his saint’s day, September 22, 1992, at age 78, Father Amorth succeeded him. One reporter described Amorth as more like the genial Uncle Fester on The Addams Family than the stern priest depicted by Max von Sydow in the film THE EXORCIST (Amorth’s favorite movie). Amorth’s eyes are intense and piercing, encircled by dark rings. Their unwavering gaze appears more than capable of staring down DEMONs. He dresses in black. Amorth works tirelessly at his calling, keeping a full calendar of appointments, reading, lecturing, writing, and, most importantly, ridding sufferers of the evils he sees all around him.
   He is most concerned about the rise he perceives in satanic activity through the practice of WITCHCRAFT, participation in satanic groups or rituals, conjuring, attempting to commune with the dead, fortune telling and card reading, listening to rock music with satanic lyrics and a hypnotic rhythm, and dabbling in magic. He has warned against the popularity of the author J. K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter novels, claiming in an interview for a Catholic news source that behind the boy wizard “lies the signature of the king of darkness.” He tried unsuccessfully to have the Potter books banned from Italy, claiming that they teach sorcery to children.
   Demonic possession can happen in one of four ways, according to Amorth: through a curse by another, by continuing a life of sin, by practicing occultism, and as a test of the victim’s faith, most usually the trials endured by the saints that prove their holiness. The possessed person invites SATAN into his or her life by choosing the paths of sin and occultism; the other two ways are foisted upon the unwary.
   When a victim of the Devil petitions Amorth for spiritual cleansing, the priest does not wait for proof of demonic presence, as many of his fellow exorcists do, but immediately begins prayers of deliverance and liberation—a small exorcism—even over the telephone or by e-mail. He sees his first efforts as a research tool in themselves, for if the prayers have any impact at all on the victim, then inhuman entities are at work. Early in his career, he despaired of how few exorcists were available, but Amorth is encouraged that the number of practicing exorcists in Italy alone has grown 10-fold to more than 300. He is involved in the training of those exorcists, especially regarding the changes in the RITUALE ROMANUM, the liturgy of prayers and exhortations in the name of Jesus Christ used to exorcise demons and devils. During the Second Vatican Council under Pope John XXIII, the Rituale was scheduled for revision, yet many years passed before Father Amorth and his colleagues saw any of the changes. Others worked on the New Ritual, as it is called, ignoring the input of those who depended on it. In 2000, Father Amorth outlined his objections to the revised rite. He was especially scornful of strictures on using the New Ritual against evil spells and CURSEs—in reality, forbidding its use in such circumstances—and the commands that exorcism not be used unless demonic activity can be absolutely certified. As noted, Father Amorth uses small exorcisms to prove the presence of inhuman spirits and believes this approach to be valuable in terms of diagnosing whether genuine possession has occurred. Most people who think they are demonically possessed are not, he says, and need medical treatment, not exorcism. Amorth and his colleagues submitted carefully worded amendments to the New Ritual, to no avail. According to Father Amorth, the church hierarchy regards the exorcists as fanatic “demonologues,” and it even exhibits hostility toward them and their work. Most insulting to Father Amorth was the refusal by church officials to allow 150 members of the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF EXORCISTs, an organization founded by Amorth and representing exorcist priests internationally, to join in a public audience with Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. At the time of the interview, Amorth revealed that entire episcopates refused to acknowledge the need for exorcists, including the countries of Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Germany. German bishops went so far as to inform Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, that revisions of the Roman Rite were unnecessary since they would never use it, anyway. Father Amorth asserted that the church’s refusal to acknowledge demonic activity could mean that the Evil One has infiltrated even the innermost circles of the Vatican. He remains steadfast in his faith, noting that while Satan may win battles, the Holy Spirit will win the war. Father Amorth has written four books: An Exorcist Tells His Story (1999), Gospel of Mary: A Month with the Mother of God (2000), An Exorcist: More Stories (2002), and Pater Pio: Lebensgeschichte eines Heiligen, a German biography of Padre Pio published in 2003.
   FURTHER READING:
   - Amorth, Gabriele. An Exorcist: More Stories. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002.
   ———. An Exorcist Tells His Story. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999.
   - Wilkinson, Tracy. The Vatican’s Exorcists: Driving Out the Devil in the 21st Century. New York: Warner Books, 2007.

Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. . 2009.

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