This is a fascinating, well-wrought book, detailing an extraordinary life.
The just-released official biography of Father Gabriele Amorth, subject of other books, a slew of articles, and now at least two major movies, details surprising observations from the world-famous exorcist, who died in 2016.
For one, there is Medjugorje. It turns out that the exorcist’s first visit to the apparition site — apparently there were more than one — was in April of 1984 and involved four of the six seers, Ivanka, Jakov, Marija, and Vicka.
Citing the “prayer and composure of the people,” unity in families, and feeling of peace, said Father Amorth: “If you ask us for an opinion, in a personal capacity, we repeat the saying of the Gospel: ‘A tree is known by its fruits.’ We didn’t go to see extraordinary things (and we didn’t see any) but we went to see if the fruits were good. We definitely answer yes.”
He could see, said the exorcist, why there are those who are skeptical (the apparitions, which began in June of 1981, have gone on for an extraordinarily long period), but, he said, “in response to such objections, Our Lady allegedly said that they are the final ones for humanity during this epoch.”
In fact, it turns out Father Amorth not only believed Mary was appearing at Medjugorje (where many are delivered from evil) but constantly defended and prompted it in a publication he edited called Madre di Dio.
Though there are accounts of clergy — including a cardinal — who didn’t believe in the existence of the devil (it isn’t taught at many seminaries), and thus resisted him, Father Amorth made clear that one who did believe was John Paul II, who he said fought several times directly against Satan — and still does.
“Satan once spoke to me at length about John Paul II,” said the exorcist. “I still remember the hoarse voice of the prince of darkness. He spoke to me just before he left the person he possessed. It was like a confession he wanted to make to me before I was able to drive him out with the power of Christ.
“Of course, his words may have been a lie. But they still deserve to be repeated because they tell us something. He said, ‘Karol Wojtyla, I hate him. We all hate him. Wojtyla destroyed my plans. I wanted to destroy the world, but it was he who made communism fall in Russia and Eastern Europe before I succeeded in my project.'”
Further, Father Amorth noted “when John Paul II is named during an exorcism, the possessed literally foams with anger. When Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is named, the devil goes mad and becomes furious and agitated.
“But when John Paul II is named, Satan becomes even more brutal and uncontrollable. Satan hates John Paul II and often says, ‘I hate him with greater intensity than Padre Pio.'” (Although, again: Saint Pio was very powerful when it came to the enemy.)
Meanwhile, according to the book — which we highly recommend — Benedict XVI was likewise potent against evil and did much for exorcists, noted Father Amorth. The devil feared this Pontiff, and not just because of his name. “The way in which Benedict XVI performs the liturgy, his respect for the rules, and his rigor and posture are very effective against Satan,” said the exorcist. “The liturgy celebrated by the Pontiff is powerful. Satan is wounded every time the Pope celebrated the Eucharist.”
Amorth recounted the time two people possessed by the devil were brought by two others to Saint Peter’s Square. “It is not a mystery that many of the Pope’s gestures and words infuriate Satan. It is no mystery that even the presence of the Pope alone disturbs and in some way helps the possessed in their battle against the one who possessed them.”
When Benedict arrived in the square, he said, the two began to fidget and shake, their teeth chattering.”
As the popemobile made its way through the square, they threw themselves on the ground, hit their heads on the stones, and uttered “frightening howls.”
At that point, said the priest, “Benedict turns around, but does not come near. He sees the two women and the two young men on the ground screaming, drooling, trembling, and enraged. He sees the hateful gaze of the two men directed at him. The Pope is not upset. He looks on from afar. He raises his arm and blesses the four. For the two possessed, it is a furious shock, like a whip cracked over their bodies. It is so strong they are knocked to the ground and fall three meters back.”
“Satan did not want Ratzinger to be Pope, and he had reason,” notes the biography. “But it is certainly not better with his successor, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He has often expressed himself clearly about the devil and his real presence in the world and in the Church itself. He has often expressed himself clearly about the devil and his real presence in the world and in the Church itself. Pope Francis stated that he is a present and personal being” — to be resisted at every turn.