Devil is at work in Vatican, says church's top exorcist
The growing clerical sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that the Devil is at work inside the Vatican, according to the Holy See's chief exorcist.
Father Gabriele Amorth said the Pope "fully believes in liberation from evil, because the Devil lodges in the Vatican. Naturally it is difficult to find proof, but you can see the consequences". Fr Amorth (85) has been the Vatican's chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession.
He said the "consequences" included internal Vatican power struggles as well as "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, bishops who are linked to the demon. When one speaks of 'the smoke of Satan' in the holy rooms, it is all true. Including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia".
The scandals included those involving the Irish, German and Dutch churches.
Fr Amorth, who recently published 'Memoirs of an Exorcist' -- a book of interviews with the Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti -- said the attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II in 1981 had been the work of the Devil, as had an incident last Christmas when a mentally ill woman threw herself at the Pope at the start of Midnight Mass, pulling him to the ground.
He is on record as saying that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were both possessed by the Devil.
Father Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Spanish exorcist based in Rome, said Fr Amorth had "gone well beyond the evidence" in claiming that Satan had infiltrated the Vatican.
"Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God," he said. Some Vatican officials were more pious than others, "but from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of satanic sects is an unacceptable distance".
Fr Amorth told 'La Repubblica', however, that the Devil was "pure spirit, invisible. But he manifests himself with blasphemies and afflictions in the person he possesses. He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, transform himself or appear to be agreeable. At times, he makes fun of me."
Meanwhile, in a separate development yesterday Pope Benedict XVI's older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, said in an interview with the 'Passauer Neue Presse' newspaper yesterday that he regretted slapping students when he was the director of the Regensburg Cathedral choir in Bavaria.
Mgr Ratzinger (86), who was director of the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, said he was sorry he used corporal punishment before it was outlawed in 1980, although he said allegations of sexual abuse that have emerged in the diocese were never raised while he was in office.
The Diocese of Regensburg, where Pope Benedict once taught as a professor of theology, this week cited two cases of sexual abuse in the cathedral choir from the late 1950s, part of a wave of abuse allegations that has emerged this year in Germany. (©The Times, London)