Meet Father Gabriele Amorth, founder and president emeritus of the International Association of Exorcists, and who is considered to be Rome's chief exorcist. And for those who cannot read what he is saying in his picture, allow me to reiterate it here:
"Rationalism, atheism - which is preached to the masses - and the corruption that is a by-product of Western consumerism have all contributed to a frightening decline in faith. This I can state with mathematical certainty: where faith declines, superstition grows."
Here is another of Amorth's considered opinions:
"Exorcism is God's true miracle. We of the Bible know that evil spirits are angels created as good by God and who then rebelled against God. But the idea of evil spirits is a universal idea, in all cultures, all regions, all times. Naturally, everybody defends themselves according to their own culture and mentality...perhaps resorting to witch doctors or what have you. But all people, all the time, have a perception that spirits of evil exist, which it is necessary to protect against."
According to Amorth, recognising demonic possession, or the 'discernment' as he likes to call it, is the first and very difficult aspect of an exorcism. This is most commonly achieved by seeing how the patient responds to religious symbols such as holy water or a crucifix. For example, the person has a great aversion to entering a church or cannot face a priest.
Many critics, however, see the Church's willingness to use exorcism at all as a perilous crutch. It allows people to take flight from personal responsibility and constitutes not just a wilful ignorance of serious mental illness but also, potentially, an exacerbation of such illness.
Where psychiatry and therapy require a person to look within to solve their problems, exorcism and blaming the 'Devil' allows a person to escape introspection and instead discern only external causes for problems.
Not unnaturally, Amorth dismisses this criticism and claims that exorcism itself has a diagnostic role. He maintains that an exorcism is the only procedure that can truly and definitively determined whether a person is afflicted by satanic influence, and the exorcism is the only procedure which can overcome the tricks the 'Devil' uses to conceal his presence. And since exorcism is basically prayer (though many would claim that it is nothing other than mumbo-jumbo) , Amorth claims that it can't hurt, since he claims...
"An unnecessary exorcism never harmed anyone."It is that attitude which worries doctors in Italy and elsewhere, who approach the subject of demonic possession and exorcism much more sceptically, or who think it is completely bogus. As Dr Sergio Moravia of the University of Florence succinctly puts it:
"It's a scam!"According to some estimates offered by Italian mental health organisations, thousands of Italians seek exorcisms every year. But whilst Amorth is reluctant to indicate the number who do so, he contends that, regrettably, many more people frequent practitioners of witchcraft and black magic. The reason for this, Amorth claims, is the quote in his piccie, and which I have reiterated above.
However, one thing is abundantly clear: irrespective of the mental health of those poor delusional fools who consult Amorth for an exorcism, he has completely lost touch with reality if he actually believes any of the gibberish which he spouts, whether within or apart from the exorcism ritual itself. And since Amorth claims that he is absolutely sincere, then his comments indicate clearly that he is a madman. But I suppose anyone who suggests such a thing has been possessed by the 'Devil'.