Fr Gabriel Amorth, the exorcist of the Diocese of Rome who performed an estimated 70,000 exorcisms and drew worldwide attention to the practice, has died at the age of 91. The Catholic News Agency has the story.
His publisher, the San Paolo Group, said the Italian priest died on Friday at the Fondazione Santa Lucia clinic in Rome where he had been hospitalised some weeks ago "for lung complications," reports Deutsche Presse Agentur.
An outspoken conservative, Fr Amorth made headlines over the years for suggesting that Stalin, Hitler, and Islamic State terrorists were possessed by the devil, and also for condemning yoga, eastern spirituality, Harry Potter, and television as Satanic.
“Now he rests from his many battles with the devil,” Spanish theologian Fr Jose Antonio Fortea told CNA.
The priest first met Fr Amorth in 1995 during theological studies about exorcisms. “His doors were open for me and for all priests. There were no mysteries or grandstanding. I could see his work and his simplicity,” Fr Fortea said.
“His strong, vigorous voice spoke to millions of people about the action of the devil,” he continued. “He alone, one person, managed to revitalise the ministry in one country and then his influence reached everywhere in the Church. The means to achieve this was simply to tell what he had seen.”
In 1985, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome, appointed him exorcist of the diocese. He performed an estimated 70,000 exorcisms, often repeating the rite on the same persons.
Fr Amorth drew much publicity for his books explaining his work and his public statements on the demonic.
In an April 2015 Facebook post, he attributed the Islamic State group to demonic influence.
“ISIS is Satan. Things first happen in the spiritual realms, then they are made concrete on this earth,” he said. He added that evil is “disguised” in various political, cultural, and religious ways, with one source of inspiration in the devil.
In May 2013, he told CNA that Pope Francis had performed an exorcism in St Peter’s Square on a man said to be possessed, using a prayer of liberation instead of the ordinary rite.
Photo: Fr Gabriel Amorth in 2013 (CNA)
Best-known Vatican exorcist dead at 91 (DPA/Perth Now)
World famous exorcist dies in Rome (The Tablet)