VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican formally recognized an international association of exorcists founded by Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth, an Italian priest renowned for his work in dispelling demons.
The Congregation for Clergy signed the formal decree June 13 approving the group’s statutes and granting it “private juridical personality,” which recognizes the group’s autonomy as an organization of Catholics not operating in the name of the Catholic Church, but as having some accountability to the Vatican.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published the news July 3.
The International Association of Exorcists is headquartered in Rome and was co-founded by Father Amorth and the French exorcist, Father Rene Chenessau.
Father Amorth, who works as an exorcist in the Diocese of Rome, started bringing Italian exorcists together in the 1980s in response to an upsurge in interest in Satanism and occult practices. The aim was to have exorcists gather regularly to exchange their experiences and best practices, the Vatican newspaper said.
The first international conference was held in 1994, and since then, an international gathering has been held every other year. The association claims 250 exorcist-members from 30 different countries, the newspaper said.
The association’s president, Father Francesco Bamonte, a member of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said receiving Vatican approval is a “reason for joy, not just for us members, but for the whole church.”
He said he hoped other priests would take “this dramatic reality” into account as it is “often ignored or underestimated.”
“Exorcism is a form of charity, helping the people who suffer; it is part of, without a doubt, the works of corporal and spiritual mercy,” he said.
The Catholic Church has explicit rules and rituals for exorcism, and any attempt at exorcism must follow those rules precisely. The exorcist — always a priest — also must be explicitly assigned by the local bishop to perform the rite and he must be certain the person is experiencing real demonic possession, and not some kind of emotional or psychiatric disturbance.
Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis frequently warned the devil is a concrete reality who still exerts his influence in modern times.
Pope Francis has said, “The devil can’t stand seeing the holiness of the church or the holiness of a person without trying to cause some kind of trouble.”
He also warned to never try to “dialogue” or argue with the devil, but to “defend yourselves with the word of God.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103