(ZENIT News – Porta Luz / Rome, 10.10.2023).- The International Association of Exorcists (IAE) issued a press release reporting that their 14thInternational Convention was held from September 25-30, 2023, in the “Fraterna Domus” House of Spirituality of Sacrofano, in the province of Rome. 203 exorcist priests from all the Continents took part in this meeting, as well as some 100 auxiliary exorcists.
In his opening address, Father Francesco Bamonte, the Association’s outgoing President, recalled the origins of the IAE: its foundation and first meeting in 1991, the first International Convention in 1994, both organized by the then President, Father Gabriele Amorth. Many steps have been taken in the course of 30 years and, thanks to the IAE, pastoral sensibility to the exorcism ministry — of which Christ Jesus is source and model –, has increased markedly in the universal Church. The formation and updated courses for exorcists, in Italy and abroad, the publication of the Guidelines for the Exorcism Ministry (2019), as well as the Minutes of the National and International Conferences, together with the dissemination of the internal training subsidy Quaderni IAE (since 2015), reflect some of the Association’s achievements, reached or consolidated in the last decade. To be mentioned in addition is the Holy See’s canonical erection of the International Association of Exorcists as a private international association of the faithful, with the consequent approval of its Statute.
At present, the numbers are encouraging: of the 250 members that made up the Association in July 2012, there are now some 900 members. Father Bamonte announced that, on the eve of the Convention, the Association’s outgoing Governing Board decided that Saint Michel the Archangel is the Patron of the International Association of Exorcists together with the Virgin Mary. Father Bamonte, President since 2012, received the warm gratitude of the assembly for the work carried out in his two consecutive mandates.
The Report of the American Exorcist, Father Robert-Joel Cruz, analyzed the blessings and the sacramentals: real spiritual weapons “both defensive as well as offensive.” Through the Sacraments and sacramentals the Lord offers the gift of communion with Him. At the same time, each one is called to be vigilant, especially given the dangerous forms of alternative spirituality that the time of the pandemic fostered: we think of the exaggeration of the ecologist topic, leading to pantheistic cults, not to mention cults such as Wicca, Druidism and shamanism.
Father Bamonte also illustrated the story of Sister Tomasina Pozzi (1910-1944), native of the province of Sondrio, subjected to strong diabolic attacks during her life as a nun: a moving testimony of suffering.
Monsignor Karel Orlita, exorcist and canonist of the Czech Republic, gave a Report on a Bishop’s concession of the faculty to carry out exorcisms, stressing certain aspects of this faculty related to the territory, both from the point of view of the area in which an exorcist can and must exercise his office, as well as the people in need of his ministry.
Exorcist and Canonist Piermario Burgotalked about the possibility of pronouncing exorcisms on non-Catholics, whether Christians of other Confessions, believers of other religions or atheists. Once they have made a free request and having verified the real need, the Church offers her help, through the exorcist’s ministry, avoiding decidedly any proselytizing attitude towards the victims of the Evil One. In these cases, which due to the phenomenon of emigration are increasing in Europe and in the American Continent, the exorcist must always follow the indications of the Bishop on whom he depends.
Father Cristian Cabrini, of Argentina, reviewed the stages of his priestly and exorcist vocation. “Someone possessed is a poor one among the poor, often abandoned, not always recognized and accepted.” In the light of his experience, he said that careful, inter-disciplinary discernment of each case is desirable.
Dr Richard Gallagher, auxiliary in the ministry of exorcisms and American psychiatrist, mentioned the importance of the exorcist priest’s spiritual discernment, in face of a phenomenon — that of suffering caused by an extraordinary action of the Evil One — which often presents a complex clinical picture, framed in a “rarefied” ambit. The doctor collaborating with the exorcist priest must also take care that the person tormented by the Evil One doesn’t develop secondary pathologies.
Brazilian exorcist Monsignor Rubens Miraglia Zani, illustrated the psycho-therapeutic focus of German Bert Hellinger (1925-2019), theorist of the so-called “Family Constellations.” Psychologist Hellinger, former priest and Catholic missionary, later reduced to the lay state, proposed a therapeutic “prescription” of syncretistic content, taken from his experience in Africa and exposed to the dangers of spiritism, where the alleged link with past generations — to heal the relationship with ancestors –, lends itself to mediumistic drifts fuelled by theosophical implications. “People certainly do not need these ‘intergenerational’ beliefs, permeated with dark determinisms but, rather, a correct catechesis based on the genuinely liberating Word of God,” observed Monsignor Miraglia.
Professor Alberto Castaldini, auxiliary and University Professor of Philosophy, addressed the singular concurrence in the Modern Age of conversions to the Catholic faith and of possession. A phenomenon that generated individual suffering and social divisions between groups, where — as in Italy and France –, there were situations of religious opposition and political confrontations.
Father Burgo addressed again the question whether it is licit or not to command demons without being an exorcist. Starting from data of theological anthropology, the speaker recalled how every man in God’s grace is hierarchically superior to all demons, without exception. Hence, a Christian is prohibited to be afraid of the devil, whom, on the contrary, he must despise. Therefore, in cases of need and emergency situations, knowing what is being done, it’s not improper and in itself dangerous to command the devil to cease his troubling action nor does the Church prohibit doing so. This does not authorize someone who isn’t an exorcist to make use of the Ritual of Exorcisms or to make us of Leo XIII’s Exorcism, as established at the time by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whereas, in order to alleviate suffering, it’s licit, for example, that a spouse or a parent, praying, trusting in the Lord and with the certainty that he is fulfilling his duty, commands the devil to cease his troubling action.
Friar Benigno Palilla, exorcist and formator, recalled the centrality of merciful divine love in pastoral exorcism care. As some evangelical episodes attest, the person liberated by Jesus, before intimately lacerated and bowed in his dignity, appears as reborn.
Mexican exorcist Father Andrés López Ruiz spoke about the phenomenon of mediumship, showing how the person, seduced by the possession of “faculties,” becomes an instrument, passive and habitual subject of the action of the Evil One, which demonic subjugation generates progressively, leading, among other things, to strong psychophysical deterioration. Discernment and accompaniment of these people is necessary, with catechesis and explicit and renewed renunciations on their part, geared to fostering a change of mentality.
Father Paolo Morocutti, exorcist and University Professor of Psychology, presented the secondary effects and addictions that generate occult practices, including their frequent pornographic framework, increasingly extended, from which the person emerges destroyed, broken both in his identity as well as his relationships.
Mario Mingardi, exorcist and Spiritual Assistant of the ‘Domus Familiae Padre Daniele,’ offered an updated view of the musical proposal for young people, pointing out its occultist and satanic contents (and of course not the impulse to beauty and joy), which foment the destruction of identity in its youngest listeners. It’s necessary to be vigilant as watchmen, capable of crying out where there are dangers,” he stressed.
In his intervention at the closing of the Conference, Father Aldo Buonaiuto, of the Pope John XXIII Community Association and exorcist, animator of the Anti-Sects Service, explained that the phenomenon of sects in the globalized world is increasingly more articulated and complex. The occult and satanic is a real “galaxy” (increasingly widespread on the Internet) and each sect is a context from which it’s often impossible to escape. The commission of crimes, murders (also of children), consolidates the belonging to the group, in a dimension of silence and secret cooperation of which it is very difficult to escape. Those that are opposed, consecrated persons and lay people, are a minority within the minority that, with heroic dedication, bring consolation to those that suffer. The sectarian world with its dynamics, including the political and economic, is a world that subjugates, imprisons and introduces in an experience made of magicians, gurus and little saints. Finally, Father Buonaiuto reflected on the social tragedy of the so-called “witch children” in Africa, subjected to unspeakable violence during the tribal pseudo-exorcisms or abandoned to their fate in suburbs, in streets and often obliged to live in dumps.
Some of the Eucharistic Celebrations during the Conference’s week of works were presided over by Bishops Monsignor Baldo Reina (Assistant Manager of the diocese of Rome), Monsignor Marco Salvi (Ordinary of the Civita Castellana diocese) and Monsignor Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira (Secretary of the Dicastery for the Clergy).
On Thursday, September 28, during the Conference — which in his message to the participants Pope Francis described as a “moment to reflect further on the ministry of exorcism, delicate and more necessary than ever –, the new leaders of the International Association of Exorcists were elected. Monsignor Karel Orlita , exorcist of the diocese of Brno (Czech Republic) was elected President, while Father Francesco Bamonte , exorcist of the diocese of Rome, described in the following day –during the final greetings by the Secretary of the Dicastery for the Clergy, Monsignor Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira –, as “the heart of the International Association of Exorcists,” was elected its Vice-President.
And the IAE was confirmed in turn as a strong and beating heart, closely united to the Hearts of Christ and the Virgin Mary, a heart that beats in unison in the fraternal sharing of its members and which is confirmed as a valid and effective instrument in the fight against Satan and the world of darkness, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of all His children.
For this reason, Pope Francis sent a telegram of good wishes and blessings:
ON THE OCCASION OF THE BIENNIAL CONGRESS OF THE INTERNATIONL ASSOCIATION OF EXORCISTS, THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS EXPRESSES TO THE ORGANIZERS, TO THE SPEAKERS AND TO ALL THE PARTICIPANTS HIS GOOD WISHES. HE HOPES HAT THE MOMENTS OF FURTHER REFLECTION ON THE MINISTRY OF EXORCISM, DELICATE AND VERY NEDESSAFRY, MAY FOSTER THE COMMITMENT TO ACCOMPANY WISELY THE FAITHFUL ESPECIALLY NEEDY OF HEALING AND SPIRITUAL LIBERATION. AT THE SAME TIME THAT HE ENCOURAGES YOU TO PUT THE WORD OF GOD AT THE CENTER OF YOUR MISSION TO PROCLAM THE MESSAGE OF SALVATION WITH RENEWED ARDOUR, HE IS PLEASED TO SEND YOU THE APOSTOLIC BLESSING.
CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN, SECRETARY OF STATE OF HIS HOLINESS.