Friday, 3 February 2012

Pope's blessing sends demons on their way

VATICAN CITY - A blessing by Pope Benedict XVI exorcised the devil from two howling men during a general audience in St. Peter's Square in 2009, a leading Catholic exorcist says in an upcoming book.
Extracts from the book by Gabriele Amorth, a well-known exorcist for the diocese of Rome who has already written two books on treating demonic afflictions, were published in Panorama magazine on Thursday.
The Vatican has stated that the pope did not perform a formal exorcism on the men.
Amorth said two of his helpers brought the men, known only as Giovanni and Marco, to the audience to see the pope, where they began to shake, becoming increasingly agitated and showing violent signs of being possessed.
When one of the helpers asked Giovanni to control himself, he said "I am not Giovanni" in a voice that was not his own, before throwing himself on the floor along with Marco when the pope's car arrived, Amorth said.
"The two possessed men fell to the floor and banged their heads on the ground. The Swiss guards watched but did nothing, perhaps they have seen how the possessed react when faced by the pope before?" Amorth said.
"The pope began to wave to the crowd and Giovanni and Marco started to howl, drool, shake and fly into a rage. The pope did not get flustered, he raised an arm and blessed the four people.
"The possessed were then hit by a wild jolt, their whole bodies were hit. They flew three metres backwards... and howled no longer," he said.
The Vatican's spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP that the pope had no idea who the men were or that they were there that day.
"Even if the facts are true, it's not correct to talk about a formal exorcism by the pope, who was not warned or aware of their presence. The pope had no intention to perform an exorcism," he said.
Exorcism is an ancient practice of evicting demons from a person or place, and exists in several religions.
Jean Paul II is said to have performed several exorcisms in the Vatican in 1982 and 2000.