June 09, 2008

It's Not Their Fault: The Devil Made Them Do It

At the end of 2007, it was revealed that Pope Benedict XVI was unleashing a wave of newly-trained exorcists against the depradations of Satan. The creaking cleric in charge of the War Against the Devil is exorcist-in-chief Gabriele Amorth.

In a new article, Amorth warns that everybody is vulnerable to being possessed by Beelzebub — particularly political leaders. There's really nothing to be done for it except to keep Amorth and his cadre of Vatican-sanctioned rattle-shakers employed seven days a week performing magical rituals in an effort to drive demons out of people's bodies. Hitler and Stalin? Possessed, of course. In fact, super-duper megapossessed!

Famous exorcist: 'The devil loves to take over those who hold political office'

The Witchfinder GeneralIn an interview with the magazine "Maria Mensajera," famous Italian exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth said, "Everybody is vulnerable to the work of Satan" and that "the devil loves to take over those who hold political office."

The Spanish daily "La Razon" published the interview in an article by Alexander Smoltczyk in which the 82 year-old priest describes what happens in an exorcism. He said he has performed more than 70,000.
70,000 exorcisms? Wow, that's a lot of superstition. That devil really gets around! But if everyone is vulnerable (and as he notes later, he really does mean everybody), then how can all these people be held accountable for their actions? Surely we need to include a plea of "not guilty by reason of Satanic possession" in the options available to the accused in criminal cases. Politicians caught doing unethical things should be allowed to say "The devil made me do it, but a priest sprinkled me with holy water and I'm OK now" and get back to their offices. Free will? Nonsense; the devil makes us believe in such things.
"Evil exists in politics, quite often in fact," Father Amorth said. "The devil loves to take over business leaders and those who hold political office. Hitler and Stalin were possessed. How do I know? Because they killed millions of people. The Gospel says: 'By their fruits you will know them.' Unfortunately, an exorcism on them would not have been enough, since they were convinced of what they were doing. We can't say it was a possession in the strict sense of the word, but rather a total and voluntary acceptance of the suggestions of the devil."
See? Hitler and Stalin were super-possessed. We can tell in retrospect that mass murdering totalitarians aren't simply twisted human beings; it takes supernatural agency to explain genocide. Why not apply this to all cases of human misbehavior? People who kill other people aren't bad people, they've just been taken over by demons. They've been seduced by the dark side, young Jedi. Father Amorth knows this because he's been given the power of divine Monday morning quarterbacking. How many criminals aren't convinced of what they're doing? Amorth's statements could be just as well applied to Charles Manson, Gary Ridgeway, or some young gang-banger who wipes out a rival in a drive-by shooting. The difference between Stalin and any other murderer is a matter of scale, not of conviction. This is some insane prattling by this Amorth fellow.
"I tell those who come to see me to first go to a doctor or a psychologist," the priest continued. "Most of the time there is a physical or psychological basis for explaining their suffering. The psychiatrists send me the incurable cases. There is no rivalry. The psychiatrist determines if it is an illness, the exorcist if it is a curse," Father Amorth explained.
And yet he's personally performed 70,000 exorcisms — just one priest. It's not unreasonable to think that all the Catholic exorcists combined then have done something like ten times that number during Amorth's career, then. This doesn't even include all of the non-Catholic exorcists chasing demons around the globe, so we're almost certainly talking about millions of exorcisms. One must wonder, then, which psychiatrists and doctors are referring their patients to the bone-rattlers. Amorth should release a list of these aberrant healthcare providers so that those of us who have come to the considered conclusion that talk of possession is a manifestation of superstition can avoid patronizing them. It seems they're sending a whole lot of people off to be exorcised; I wouldn't want to be one of them.
Nobody, he went on, not even himself, is "safe from the devil. Everyone is vulnerable." "The devil is very intelligent. He retains the intelligence of the angel that he was."

"Suppose, for example, that someone you work with is envious of you and casts a spell on you. You would get sick. 90 percent of the cases that I deal with are precisely spells. The rest are due to membership in satanic sects or participation in séances or magic. If you live in harmony with God, it is much more difficult for the devil to possess you," Father Amorth stated.
Really? 90% of 70,000... that 63,000 people who have had spells cast upon them. Witchcraft is real, folks. This is oh-so-different from Dark Ages-like superstition how, exactly? In Africa, people are being beaten and burned to death on the same suspicion that Amorth is raising here. According to him, we're all surrounded by people who are casting spells at us! BURN THE WITCHES!

But if everyone, even Amorth himself, is vulnerable to possession, then how is anyone to be held responsible for their actions? It could be a spell or a demon or whatnot that made some CEO embezzle money from their company. By what objective, reproducible, testable measure can we discern who is truly responsible for his/her misdeeds and which of the accused is a victim of overwhelming supernatural deviousness?
"The Pope supports exorcists," he explained, but "satanic sects are proliferating," and for this reason Father Amorth said his calendar for the next two months is full. "I work seven days a week, from morning until night, including Christmas Eve and Holy Week," he said.
Be afraid, be very afraid. Satanic sects are proliferating. I guess that's helped by the fact that, according to Amorth, their members can use magic to control the actions of others, to make people sick, and, I would assume, dry up the dairy cows and hold back the rain, too.

I find it hard to believe that people still swallow this nonsense at this point in history. Devils and demons and possessions and spells... all based on the assertions of people who lived long ago, at a time when they didn't understand how things worked. Belief in these things is the product of ignorance, not of understanding. When this kind of ignorance gets institutionalized, people call it religion instead of the most proper term — superstition. It's pathetic that someone like Amorth exists as anything more than an isolated nut-job, that there are so many people willing to buy into this mumbo-jumbo.

The only difference between a Catholic exorcist and an animist witch doctor is that the Catholic version is better funded.

Sphere: Related Content