The latest and last book by famed exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth of Rome, who once assisted in an exorcism with Saint John Paul II, and who died last month (9/16), is no standard sequel. It is as fresh and packed with information and fascinating anecdotes as his previous works, with a number of bold and sometimes stunning assertions.
Among the assertions:
That diabolical obsession, particularly in the young, "can lead to confusion about one's gender" -- an incredible remark from a top authority on spiritual matters and one that more than puts to question the current tolerance for -- and enabling of -- open homosexuality and transgenderism. (In so doing, are we promoting Satan?)
As controversial, at least in the popular culture at large: Father Amorth's belief that a "dramatic increase in the number of possessed persons and spiritual disturbances" has paralleled "the generalized decline of the Faith and the spreading of a culture favoring magic."
Specifically, the exorcist cites: "television series such as Witches and films such as Harry Potter" -- as Pope Benedict XVI also indicated concern about the wildly popular Potter wizard novels, which have found acceptance even among practicing Catholics: a "sacred cow" that few have dared to attack (for fear of seeming extreme) and as a result pollute the minds of our young. The exorcist warns against all horror movies and anything that promotes the notion that "reality can be modified with the wave of a wand."
Discussing everything from Masonry to satanism, Father Amorth explains how brushing against let alone immersing oneself in the occult can have long-lasting consequences -- causing everything from psychological disorder to tumors and other physical ailments.
In fact, while Father Amorth said he always requested those seeking his assistance to first consult with a psychiatrist (to see if the issue could be resolved in that manner), and while he believed a good number of cases that came to him were psychiatric in nature, he also argues that many psychological problems are so similar to what demons cause that they are often mixed together. He quotes Saint Padre Pio, who, as Father Amorth puts it, "was convinced that many persons who were admitted to psychiatric hospitals and who remained there during their entire natural life were, in reality, possessed by the demon and an exorcism would have been enough to cure them."
Father Amorth notes that a "great apostle of psychiatric illnesses," the Carmelite Francis Palau from Spain, exorcised all the patients in one hospital, "curing many of them."
So thin is the line between "psychiatric" and "diabolical," and so similar are they, that it comes down, notes Father Amorth, to learned intuition and spiritual "discernment" -- as so many things in the mystical realm do (necessitating prayer and fasting).
And when a priest is not available, Amorth recommended those feeling attacked or oppressed to seek the counsel of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He believed that the apparition site of Medjugorje was not only authentic but a huge heavenly strategy to defeat the current onslaught of evil. He also urges use of the term "evil one" instead of just the generalized "evil" -- to personalize the battle, which makes deliverance more effective (including at the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer, where "evil one" was the original translation).
There is much more: his openness to the possibility of healing the family tree; his descriptions of especially intense cases of possession; his belief that priests can suffer from serious spiritual evils; his explanation on how various curses affect us -- often without our knowing it!
If you are going to read only one book on spiritual warfare this year, make it this one.
[resources: An Exorcist Explains the Demonic, free shipping]